Earlier this week, the United States Postal Service teamed up with SXSW to present the Latin Music Legends Commemorative Stamps First-Day-of-Issue Ceremony at the Austin Convention Center during the festival thanks to LatinPointe and Sarah Chavez, who envisioned the USPS/SXSW ceremony partnership.The United States Postal Service unveiled Latino "forever" stamps at the South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin on March 16. The stamps go on sale in March.
La Prensa de San Antonio.- Earlier this week, the United States Postal Service teamed up with SXSW to present the Latin Music Legends Commemorative Stamps First-Day-of-Issue Ceremony at the Austin Convention Center during the festival thanks to LatinPointe and Sarah Chavez, who envisioned the USPS/SXSW ceremony partnership.The United States Postal Service unveiled Latino "forever" stamps at the South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin on March 16. The stamps go on sale in March.
By Angela Covo
Five Latino music legends were honored: Selena, Carlos Gardel, Carmen Miranda, Tito Puente, and Celia Cruz. Jim Rosenberg, the president of Families of Epiphone, presented each star;s family with a fabulous hand-painted commemorative guitar that featured each legend’s respective stamp; Selena's parents and brother A.B. Quintanilla and Celia Cruz's niece, Celia Cody, were there to participate in the event.
To top it off, Grupo Fantasma, an award-winning local Samba band played the grand finale for the ceremony at SXSW with songs by Celia Cruz and Tito Puente.
Commemorative stamps program began in 1847
USPS unveiled all the images in the 2011 commemorative stamp program, which started 163 years ago, last December.
“The stamps help to tell America’s story – they depict milestones in the evolution of our great country and the diversity of our culture,” USPS spokesperson Roy Betts said.
The program celebrates the people, events and cultural milestones that are unique to the history of our nation. The very first stamp honored Benjamin Franklin and number two honored George Washington.
“The USPS started this process in 1847,” he added.
From the legends of Latin music to a former U.S. president to the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500-mile auto race, the 2011 commemorative stamp program has something for everyone.
Among this year’s honorees are former President Ronald Reagan, legendary author Mark Twain, award-winning actor and actress Gregory Peck and Helen Hayes, and Latin music giants Celia Cruz, Selena, Carlos Gardel, Tito Puente and Carmen Miranda representing distinctive the musical genres and styles salsa, Tejano, tango, Latin jazz and samba.
The suggestions for all new stamps come from the American public and are then reviewed by the Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee. The Committee is made up of private citizens, historians, educators, and even an Olympian gold-medalist in swimming, Donna de Varona.
The Post Master General appoints those who serve on the Committee.
“The Committee looks at all the suggestions – thousands of them – and recommends 20 to 25 subjects each year to the Post Master General, who makes the final decisions,” Betts explained.
The artists are selected from a group who specialize in working in postage stamp size scale.
“We actually have a group of stamp artists we have worked with over the years.
Stamp designing is such a highly specialized skill because of the scale - illustrating to those dimensions is extremely challenging,” Betts said.
For the Legends of Latin Music stamps, artist Rafael Lopez of San Diego painted semi-realistic portraits of each musical artist designed to evoke their personality, vitality and even their sound. He selected a warm palette of colors—from brilliant yellows, pinks, and lime green to rich shades of purple and blue—to suggest the flavor and energy these artists brought to their work.
Each musician is depicted in mid-performance.
The images are so vivid and compelling one can almost hear Celia Cruz shout her trademark ¡Azucar! (Sugar!) or sense Tito Puente's rhythmic intensity as he performed one of his progressive arrangements on the timbales. Even Carlos Gardel, the iconic figure of the Tango, looks poised to deliver the nostalgic poetry and music of the romantic Argentine sound.
Art director Ethel Kessler of Maryland said, “My goal was that when you see the stamp, you hear the music.”
Just a quick look at the five selected artists and their respective images shows Kessler achieved her goal with this series.
Our own Selena Quintanilla-Perez (1971-1995)—known to fans simply as Selena—transformed and popularized Tejano music by integrating techno-hip-hop beats and disco-influenced dance movements with a captivating stage presence. A Grammy-award winning “Queen of Tejano” broke gender barriers with record sales and awards. Even after her tragic death, Selena remains an important representative of Latino culture with dedicated fans.
Carlos Gardel (c1890-1935), a fabulous and evocative singer and musician, was the most celebrated tango artists of all time. Raised in Argentina, he created the Tango furor in the US, across Europe and throughout Latin America with his heartfelt performances and recordings. “The man with the tear in his voice” also achieved fame as one of the stars of the early Spanish-language cinema. The romantic sound of the Tango (and the dance) is enjoying a resurgence in Buenos Aires with today’s youth and many current Tango artists enjoy sell-out crowds in the US.
Carmen Miranda (1909-1955), born in Portugal and raised in Brazil, achieved fame as a samba singer before moving to New York City, where she gained instant celebrity in theater, film and radio. The “Brazilian Bombshell” with the unforgettable headdress appeared in 14 Hollywood musicals and recorded more than 300 songs. Her exotic signature outfit and persona are an inexhaustible source of inspiration.
Tito Puente (1923-2000), born in New York City to Puerto Rican parents, was a musical virtuoso known as El Rey, “The King”. With dynamic solos on the timbales and orchestral arrangements that have become classics in Latin music and jazz, Puente helped bring Afro-Cuban and Caribbean sounds to mainstream audiences. The award-winning artist performed for more than 60 years and he left us more than 140 albums of his incredible work. His son, Tito Puente, Jr., continues his legacy of music.
Celia Cruz (1925-2003), the dazzling Cuban performer of many genres of Afro-Caribbean musichad a powerful contralto voice and a joyful, charismatic personality that endeared her to fans from across countries and even generations. Settling in the United States following the Cuban revolution, the “Queen of Salsa” performed for more than five decades and recorded more than 50 albums. "La Guarachera de Cuba" as she was affectionately known to her fans, was indisputably one of the most prominent females in Latin music.
The extensive commemorative stamp program also selected the former U.S. Congresswoman from Texas, Barbara Jordan, as the 2011 Black Heritage stamp honoree.
Forever Stamps are always equal to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price no matter when the stamps are purchased or used, regardless of future price increases. Since the first Forever Stamp featuring the Liberty Bell was issued in April 2007, 28 billion Forever Stamps have been sold resulting in $12.1 billion in total revenue. Now that the Postal Service offers coils, booklets and Holiday Forever Stamps, almost 85 percent of the stamp program is Forever.
The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations according to a press release from USPS.
Stamps may be purchased at local Post Offices, at The Postal Store website at www.usps.com/shop, or by calling 800-STAMP-24.