Five legendary musicians and performers of the Latin sound whose contributions have had a lasting impact on American music —Selena, Carlos Gardel, Carmen Miranda, Tito Puente, and Celia Cruz – will be honored on stamps. Among the distinctive musical genres and styles represented are Tejano, tango, samba, Latin jazz, and salsa. The stamps go on sale in March.
For these stamps, artist Rafael Lopez, of San Diego, CA, painted semi-realistic portraits of each musical artist designed to evoke their personality, vitality, and even their sound. He used a warm palette of colors—from brilliant yellows, pinks, and lime green to rich shades of purple and blue—to suggest the flavor and energy these artists brought to their work. Each musician is depicted in mid-performance. One can almost hear Celia Cruz shout her trademark rallying cry ¡Azucar! (Sugar!) or sense Tito Puente’s rhythmic intensity as he performed one of his progressive arrangements on the timbales. Art director Ethel Kessler, of Bethesda, Maryland, says, “My goal was that when you see the stamp, you hear the music.”
Lopez’s first project for the U.S. Postal Service was the Merengue design for the 2005 Let’s Dance/Bailemos stamp pane, followed in 2007 with the Mendez v. Westminster stamp…