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Felix Contreras

Felix Contreras is co-creator and host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering program about Latin Alternative music and Latino culture. It features music as well as interviews with many of the most well-known Latinx musicians, actors, filmmakers, and writers. He has hosted and produced Alt.Latino episodes from Mexico, Colombia, Cuba, and throughout the U.S. since the show started in 2010.

Previously, Contreras was a reporter and producer NPR's Arts Desk and, among other stories and projects, covered a series reported from Mexico on the musical movement called Latin Alternative; helped produce NPR's award-winning series 50 Great Voices; and reported a series of stories on the financial challenges aging jazz musicians face.

Contreras is a recovering television journalist who has worked for both NBC and Univision in Miami and California. He's a part-time musician who plays Afro-Cuban percussion with various jazz and Latin bands in the Washington, DC, area. He is also NPR Music's resident Deadhead.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple Music playlists at the bottom of the page.


American music can mean many things depending on the part of America you're experiencing. For much of the Southwest, the American sound includes accordions and cumbias — and that's just what we hear on American Music Vol. VII by Grupo Fantasma, a prolific nine-piece Latin funk outfit from Austin, Texas.

Years ago, Gina Chavez was a SXSW discovery for me: I'd tracked her down at some unofficial showcase and was immediately mesmerized by the Austin singer-songwriter. Since then, many good things have come her way, and she's developed into a major artist. On this Tiny Desk Family Hour video, recorded live at Austin's Central Presbyterian Church during SXSW last week, you can hear for yourself the voice that caught my attention back then — and has never let it go in the years since.

Attending SXSW is opportunistic in the sense that anyone can connect with other musicians and music enthusiasts in small bars, city stages and backyards around Austin. This year, Felix Contreras returned to Alt.Latino headquarters, aiming to balance out all the emotions of the festivals, as if his experiences came home with him.

I struggled to balance the conflicting emotions of enjoying the musical celebration that is the annual SXSW Festival with the pain of the devastating loss of life in Friday's terrorist attack in New Zealand. It was an emotional push and pull that I kept completely to myself.

Two South American countries have been in the news a lot lately. Venezuela's economy has collapsed in a political crisis and in Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, the country's new far-right president, has made racist comments and been accused of stoking anti-gay violence. For musicians in both those countries, the news is affecting their work.

Each week, Alt.Latino whips up a curated list of new favorites that emerge from the Latin music world. This week on Alt.Latino, explore Piñata Protest's new twist on conjunto punk, Los Tigres del Norte's tribute to legendary mariachi singer Vicente Fernandez and a diasporic folk ballad from La Doña.

Each week, Alt.Latino curates a list of songs and hidden gems from the Latin music world. This week's packed with new releases and premieres, many of which engage with self-reflection and inner confidence in a fun and catchy way. Below, hear the song premiere - the only song in Spanish - off Yawner's upcoming album Just Calm Down, VINILOVERSUS' recent headbanger and an altruistic sentiment to Ambar Lucid's "Younger Self."

Every week, Alt.Latino puts together a list of songs that celebrate emerging Latino artists in the music world. This week's picks include Tagua Tagua's Brazilian rock swinging in the spotlight and a celebratory party anthem off Amara La Negra's debut EP.

As part of a series of NPR Music's favorite Latin songs, we created a Spotify playlist to accompany the songs we write about. Listen along and read our hot takes below.

There is no denying the impact Roma has had on the movie going public on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border. The story of a young indigenous woman and her life as a live-in care taker for a middle class Mexican family in the mid-1970's is one of those rare instances that has crossed demographic lines and has people raving about from all quarters.

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