The early 1900s saw the coming-of-age township of South Omaha experience a new wave of immigrants;  namely, Mexicans. This population added to the already established European ethnic migrations from locations such as Germany, Poland, Croatia and Ireland, among others. A fresh wave of Mexican migration, however, brought a unique contribution to the emerging “Magic City”—music. Initially, these musical expressions which would become traditions, expressed themselves in closely-knit neighborhood gatherings, primarily in private homes.

As Mexican music was not available in stores nor played on the radio in those days, the local community relied on musicians to perform at gatherings, creating a continuity to their musical lifestyles. These evening entertainments afforded some balance to the daily hard work at the meatpacking plants. Before there were venues, Mexican friends and family would gather at house parties and halls to express their native musical heritage.

Latino Musical Traditions in South Omaha is the documentation and preservation of what Latino musicians have contributed to the Omaha fabric of life. This book represents an aspect of history that has not yet been discovered in Omaha and can be utlizied as a learning tool. It presents an illustrated history in photographs and documents of the individuals, families, musical groups, venues and celebrations that created the Latino Musical Traditions in South Omaha. 

South Omaha Arts  • southomahaarts@gmail.com