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Celebrate Hispanic Heritage with PBS Passport!

In Living Color painting

"Fiesta Tropical" by Dalia Garcia

It’s Hispanic Heritage Month and that has me thinking of my dear friend Dalia, a native South Carolinian born to Puerto Rican parents, who spent the better part of her childhood living in Spain. Her Spanish roots define so much of who Dalia is; as an accomplished singer, dancer, and artist, she embodies the multi-faceted richness of her heritage. She is also a genuinely kind and giving person—a lover and advocate of animals, humans, and nature alike. Today’s edition of “Handpicked by Heather” celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month and my bestie Dalia’s love of music and performance with PBS programming, available only with Passport!

Ariana De Bose

35th Hispanic Heritage Awards

This photo of actor Ariana DeBose reminds me so much of my friend Dalia. Both are beautiful, empowered, talented women of Puerto Rican descent who can mesmerize an audience with their amazing singing and dancing. DeBose was honored at the 35th Hispanic Heritage Awards in 2022—the same year she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her reprisal of the iconic role of Anita in the 2021 film West Side Story. Meet DeBose and fellow honorees including a Latina fighter pilot, a Marvel Studios executive, rock legends Los Lobos, a pair of agricultural entrepreneurs, and the “King of Reggaeton” when you tune in with your PBS Passport benefit to revisit the 35th awards program; then turn to WTIU on September 29 to see the broadcast premiere of this year’s ceremony.  


Melissa Rudresh on saxophone

Great Performances: Roots of Latin Jazz

A few years ago, my family had the good fortune to visit Cuba, where we learned firsthand how deeply embedded music is in the Hispanic experience. Everywhere we went, we heard music pouring out from the open doors of homes, restaurants, and clubs, on street corners, and blasting from car speakers. From Salsa and Merengue to Rock and Reggaeton, Latin music crosses myriad countries and cultures. Learn more when you watch the Roots of Latin Jazz episode of Great Performances as legendary drummer Sheila E. leads viewers on an aural tour of Cuba, Brazil, Peru, Spain, Cameroon, Venezuela, and Miami to explore the rhythms of Latin music.


Roni Benise

Benise: Fiesta!

The first time I met Dalia, she was performing with famed music arranger and musician Al De Lory at a music festival in Paducah, Kentucky—a place more closely associated with bluegrass music than with Salsa. Nonetheless, Al and his band, Salsa en Nashville with Dalia, brought the house down, and I have been a fan of Latin music ever since! The magic and energy of a live performance like that is hard to duplicate in a recorded version, but guitarist Roni Benise comes close. Celebrate the sounds of Latin music with your WTIU PBS Passport benefit as Benise brings fierce intensity to new interpretations of favorite rock anthems and traditional classics in the 2022 PBS special  recorded live at San Diego’s Old Mission.


Ballet Hispanico

Next at the Kennedy Center: Ballet Hispánico's Doña Perón

I referenced the mesmerizing power of dance earlier; whether it’s the Salsa that Dalia performs (and tried valiantly to teach me without much success!), Irish step dancing, or the Lindy Hop, it’s enthralling to watch good dancers do their thing. But perhaps no form of dance is as captivating as ballet. I just finished watching Ballet Hispánico's Doña Perón  from the most recent season of Next at the Kennedy Center. This explosive retelling of the life of Eva “Evita” Perón has been described as a masterpiece, surpassing “any previous attempts to bring the iconic Latina figure to the stage.” Discover this fresh take on Perón’s story as a rejected child who became a dancehall performer before becoming First Lady of Argentina. The lush music and the raw emotion of the dancers’ performances will have you entranced from the moment the curtain rises!


Gustavo Dudamel

 In Concert at the Hollywood Bowl

Here’s a fun fact about my friend: Dalia spent much of her singing career touring the world with none other than renowned Grammy award-winning singer Julio Iglesias, performing both as a back-up singer and in duets with the multi-platinum selling artist on stages spanning the globe. One of the stages where Dalia performed with Julio is the iconic Hollywood Bowl. Latin music has a deep history in Los Angeles, and despite the prevalence of segregation in much of 20th century L.A., the Hollywood Bowl was known as a sanctuary for Mexican and Mexican-American musicians and performers. Learn more about the Hollywood Bowl’s history with host Gustavo Dudamel, along with Rodrigo y Gabriela, Natalia Lafourcade, and La Santa Cecilia, all performing with the LA Philharmonic in this episode of In Concert at the Hollywood Bowl.