This year’s commemorative stamps are out from the United States Postal Service, and there’s good news for fans of Latino pop music: iconic singers Celia Cruz and Selena are among a slew of Latino musicians to be recognized. Cruz was a legendary, Grammy-winning salsa performer who was born in Cuba and sang prolifically throughout her career until her death in 2003. Selena was a Tejano music star well on her way to the top of American music’s pop charts until she was tragically killed in 1995 at the age of 23. Her life was later immortalized in a self-named biopic that would eventually catapult actress and singer Jennifer Lopez to worldwide fame.
Selena Mural in Los Angeles’ Westlake District. (Photo: Jorge Rivas)
The collection also spotlights singers Carlos Gardel, Carmen Miranda, and Tito Puente. For Rafael Lopez, the artist who spent over two years creating the stamp’s vibrant artwork, the work was deeply personal. As he explains on his blog:
I am passionate about Latin music as it has fueled my work for decades. As a child growing up in Mexico City I was lucky to study guitar and South American instruments like the quena and cuatro with Folklorista Gerardo Tamez. My uncle had a musical radio program at UNAM that introduced folk and protest music from Latin America. I grew up in a household where my architect parents constantly played instruments and sang music. We were always dancing and I can’t bring myself to paint without music.
Lopez’s blog post is a must see. Not only does it document Lopez’s process, but it also includes several original sketches. The stamps are set to be available in March.