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Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles is an all-female mariachi band. (Courtesy of the artist)

Latin Roots: Christmas Preview

Dec 13, 2012 (WXPN-FM)

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As the peak of the holiday season draws near, Latin Roots explores some sizzling renditions of well-known Christmas classics. Most people are familiar with the traditional "Little Drummer Boy," but many have yet to enjoy a very popular Cuban version of the song, interpreted by the band Los Papines. The band, commonly known as the "Kings of Rumba," uses deep, percussive sounds to tell the story of a child's perspective of the holiday season.

World Cafe host David Dye is joined by Catalina Maria Johnson — host of Beat Latino — as they discuss the musical traditions of Spain, and one particular Christmas song that has spread across all of Spain's former colonies: "Los Peces en el Rio."

Many Americans may not be familiar with the song, but throughout Latin America, singing it has become a household tradition. Nearly every country has its own rendition, and Catalina performs a mariachi version of the much-beloved tune.

While mariachi is typically a male-dominated genre in Latin America, Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles is an all-female band that defies stereotypes. The band offers a unique biblical perspective on "Los Peces en el Rio," which recounts the story of a fish watching the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus as they make their way along a river bank.

Listen to the Latin Roots Catalina Maria Johnson Christmas playlist on Spotify

Latin Roots from World Cafe is made possible by a grant from the Wyncote Foundation.

Copyright 2014 WXPN-FM. To see more, visit


  • Los Papines, "El Pequeño Tamborilero (The Little Drummer Boy)"
  • Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles, "Los Peces En El Río"

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