Genias in Music: La Lupe

La Lupe was a legendary Afro-Cuban singer who was once known as the “Queen of Latin Soul.” She was one of the top performers in Havana cabarets amid the Cuban Revolution and became a legendary figure in New York after fleeing Cuba. She worked with some of Latin music’s biggest names, including Tito Puente, and was known for explosive boleros like “Qué Te Pedí” and “La Tirana.” By the mid-1970s, Lupe’s label was acquired by Fania Records and she was pushed aside. She earned the reputation of being difficult to manage and there were rumors that she was a drug abuser, even though her family and friends have consistently denied these claims. Changing tastes in Latin music coupled with her strained reputation led her career to decline by the 80s. This episode of Latino USA is part of our Genias in Music series, remembering notable women and their contributions to their fields throughout history. We question some of the myths about La Lupe that attempted to delegitimize her music and look at how her identity as an Afrolatina influenced the racist and sexist characterizations of her as “possessed,” “crazy” and “on drugs.” But by singing and moving in the ways she was known for, she was resisting her erasure and claiming her space –– whether audiences understood it or not.

Om Podcasten

Latino USA offers insight into the lived experiences of Latino communities and is a window on the current and merging cultural, political and social ideas impacting Latinos and the nation.