J-Lo has always made an effort to stay humble since she rose to prominence in the 1990s, first as a Fly Girl on In Living Color and then for her portrayal of the late Selena Quintanilla. From club bangers like ‘Get Right’ to the summer hit ‘I Luh Ya Papi’, J-Lo has always kept it real. Ten albums later, she still has not lost touch with her Bronx roots. On June 4, 2014, Lopez hosted a free concert for her hometown fans at Orchard Beach in Pelham Bay Park, proving she’s still ‘Jenny From the Block’.
Born and raised in the Bronx to a Dominican father and Puerto Rican mother, Romeo Santos developed a deep interest in bachata, Dominican music made in the spirit of the working class. Today, he is known as ‘The King of Bachata’. In 2014 alone, Santos became the first Latino to headline a show at Yankees Stadium, playing to sold-out audiences two nights in a row. A major force in music since his 2011 debut Formula, Vol. 1, Santos has made a smooth crossover into the mainstream. He is even preparing to make his film debut this spring in Furious 7.
Born in Chicago, Scott-Heron moved to the Bronx when he was 12 to live with his mother, and the influence the borough had on him is palpable in the revolutionary music he created. He released his 1970 spoken-word LP Small Talk at 125th and Lenox before delving into a more musical approach. Arguably the most pervasive influence throughout hip-hop, Gil Scott-Heron’s music acted as something of a megaphone, discussing all the issues affecting the black community in America and the world at large. He remains one of the most powerful indications that musicians can indeed be vehicles for social change.
Though she was born in Soviet Moscow in 1980, Regina Spektor soon emigrated to the Bronx with her family. Spektor is living proof of how multicultural the borough really is and it was this kind of diversity that exposed her to a variety of music in her youth. Her music is thematically complex and, just like Spektor herself, it’s a unique product of the myriad cultures and styles ingrained in her over the years in New York.
Deeming Luther Vandross a legend seems insufficient considering his prolific career. Vandross began performing as a teenager and even took the stage at the Apollo Theater when he was in high school. Before his solo career took off, Vandross lent his voice to the likes of Roberta Flack and Diana Ross among others. Vandross’s released his first solo record in 1980 and the rest is history. He recorded a slew of hits like ‘A House Is Not A Home’ and ‘Power of Love/Love Power’ for decades. Shortly before his death in 2005, Vandross walked away with four Grammys, mostly for his single, ‘Dance With My Father’.
By Will Speros
A recent graduate of Fordham University, Will Speros is an aspiring journalist proudly living in Harlem. In addition to living and breathing music and film, Will maintains an active interest in politics and social justice. He hopes to eventually pursue a career as a writer of cultural critique.