From maudlin boleros to classic banda, many iconas of Latin American music were shaped by their experiences of motherhood. For one, Elza Soares, the Afro-Brazilian queen of samba, gave birth to her first son at 13, and mothered four more children by the age of 21. As Pitchfork reported last year, it’s rumored that Soares appeared on the radio show Calouros em Desfile to earn money for her sick child. Soares went on to define Brazilian folk music for the next few decades.
To celebrate Mother’s Day and honor the contributions of mothers in the canon of Latin American music, we put together this eclectic, 25-track playlist. Our selections hop from generation to generation, with hits from icons like Totó la Momposina to indie favorites like Raquel Berrios from Buscabulla. From exotica classics by Yma Sumac to the eerie occult machinations of Juana Molina, here’s our tribute to las reinas de la música latina. Press play and explore six decades of mothers in Latin American music.