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.

The popular Dominican merengue musician Johnny Ventura has died. According to Dominican news media, the 81-year-old musician died after a sudden heart attack in his home country on Wednesday. The news was later confirmed by Ventura's son on social media.

Johnny Pacheco, one of the founders of the iconic Latin music label Fania Records, died Monday at age 85.

Pacheco had been hospitalized in New Jersey for undisclosed reasons, according to Alex Masucci, the brother of Fania co-founder Jerry Masucci. No cause of death was provided.

It's Valentine's Day week here at Alt.Latino HQ. Hopefully you've known that dizzying feeling of falling in love; if you've ever been so fortunate, you know that conveying those complex emotions can be quite difficult. And to set those indescribable feelings to music? It's a tough task that's not for the faint of heart!

What we experienced in the U.S. this past week is upsetting on a number of levels. So as I've done before, here's some music to try help us cope and make sense of things.


The undercurrent of recent Latin Grammy award presentations has been defined by the push and pull between reggaeton and Latin trap artists, and the Latin Grammy establishment.

One of the casualties of the COVID-19 shutdown has been live music. When authorities banned large gatherings in March, the music industry as a whole came to a virtual standstill for several weeks.

Things slowly things started to change as artists began offering performances from their homes but venues still remain closed, major festivals have been canceled and tours large and small are on an indefinite hold.

Alt.Latino host Felix Contreras joins Weekend Edition host Lulu Garcia-Navarro for their monthly new music chat. The tracks featured this week come from several corners of the Latin music world and all center on themes of inspiration and emotional release, which Felix says is exactly what we need during these difficult times. Listen to the conversation in the audio player above and check out all of the tracks below.

Musician Jorge Santana, guitarist and a pioneer of the Latin rock sound of the early '70s through the Bay Area-based band Malo, has died. The 68-year-old musician died of natural causes on Thu., May 14 at his home in San Rafael, Calif., according to family.

In the interest of providing a much-needed musical balm, we redirect the upcoming weekly playlists toward indie musicians who are both reeling economically while dealing with the emotional impact of our current situation.

Sometimes we need to ponder deep thoughts, but other times we need to work out our anxieties through physical exercise on the dance floor — or our living rooms and kitchens, as it may be. We're here for you either way.

Listen to this playlist on Spotify or Apple Music.

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For four days in January, Getting Funky In Havana — the title of a musical exchange between Cuba's

In 2001, X Alfonso produced one of those kinds of key moments n Cuban music that reverberate long after the fact.

His album Moré, a tribute to iconic Cuban vocalist Beny Moré, made a huge impact on how compatible hip-hop was to Cuban music.

This past September, Alfonso launched a series of monthly single releases that will culminate this coming September in his first album in 10 years.

Last week, the New Orleans bands Tank and the Bangas and The Soul Rebels traveled to Havana to participate in a cultural exchange; it was meant to acknowledge the past by celebrating the present.

Listen to this playlist on Spotify or Apple Music.

Let it be known: Alt.Latino turns ten years old on June 15! We'll have a bunch of cool things to help us celebrate into June and beyond. But first, here's a batch of new music to kicks things off.


Listen to this playlist on Spotify or Apple Music.

Bundle up! We're getting ready for cold weather with new songs by Lido Pimienta, Dimelo Flow, Tiger Army and David Lawrence.


Ozuna has been teasing his third album Nibiru since November... of 2018.

It's almost always impossible to pinpoint an exact moment in music history when the plates shift. But looking back at the last decade in Latin music, it's easy, now, to see that the release of "Despacito" by Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi in early 2017 was just such a moment.

It was the face of a six-year-old boy that reminded me to honor those who have passed this year. He was the youngest victim of a mass shooting in Gilroy, Calif., this past July. His face has stayed with me; he looked like one of my sons looking back at me with his innocent smile.

Just when you think you know a lot about Cuban music, along comes a pair of musicians who tell me one that of the major influences on their pioneering jazz/rock/santeria band was Queen.

Yes, that Queen.

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