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Supporters aim to build a museum dedicated to salsa music in the Bronx

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PEDRO NAVAJA")

RUBEN BLADES AND WILLIE COLON: (Singing in Spanish).

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Salsa music has its roots in multiple places, but it's the Bronx in New York City that could soon be home to the first-ever International Salsa Museum. But what is salsa exactly? Here's Willy Rodriguez, the museum's co-founder.

WILLY RODRIGUEZ: The origins of salsa came from Africa, with its unique percussive rhythms, and made its way through the Atlantic into the Caribbean. And from there it became mambo, guaracha, guaguanco, son montuno, rumba.

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Rodriguez is a prolific pianist. He says salsa is part of who he is.

RODRIGUEZ: It's deeply embedded into our DNA as Latinos and as African Americans. There currently isn't a salsa museum. If we don't preserve this, we're definitely going to lose the essence of where this music came from.

FADEL: Now, the museum's permanent space likely won't be here until 2029. Its founders hope to put it inside a decommissioned armory. In the meantime, they're building awareness.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LAS CARAS LINDAS")

ISMAEL RIVERA: (Singing in Spanish).

JANICE TORRES: We fully exist already. We are doing and have been doing virtual events, pop-up events and showing up in our community, whether it's a book bag giveaway or sponsoring a scholarship.

MARTÍNEZ: That's Janice Torres, a member of the museum's advisory board. She says the legacy of salsa should be preserved in the place it was popularized. The Bronx is known as El Condado de la Salsa, or the Borough of Salsa.

TORRES: There's a museum for every genre - for rock, jazz. There's even a museum for trap music in Atlanta. But yet there is no museum celebrating the roots of Latin music history.

FADEL: According to Torres, the museum will include music and dance programs and a recording studio, along with traditional exhibits. Their first pop-up happened last year in New York, where salseros came together to dance and learn about the history of salsa.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PERIODICO DE AYER")

HECTOR LAVOE: (Singing in Spanish).

MARTÍNEZ: Shawnick Rodriguez is a Puerto Rican artist who was featured at the event.

SHAWNICK RODRIGUEZ: When I think of Puerto Rico, I think of old-school salsa. Even when it comes to, like, listening to salsa, you just think of that authentic, like, home-cooked meal.

MARTÍNEZ: The second annual International Salsa Museum pop-up is happening Labor Day weekend at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PERIODICO DE AYER")

LAVOE: (Singing in Spanish). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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