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Homenaje a las Grandes ()

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In Spanish, the word "homenaje" means "homage" or "tribute." When salsa/Latin jazz giant Tito Puente recorded an album titled Homenaje a Beny Moré in 1978, he was paying homage to one of the top Afro-Cuban bandleaders of the '40s and '50s -- he was saluting Beny Moré's accomplishments. Similarly, Mexican-American banda/corrido vocalist Jenni Rivera pays homage to some of the major Mexican singers -- specifically, female singers -- on Homenaje a las Grandes. The title Homenaje a las Grandes means "homage to the great ones," and Rivera salutes a variety of singers who have had a major impact on Mexican music -- including Mercedes Castro on "Ahora Vengo a Verte," Lucha Villa and Rocio Dúrcal on "Juro Que Nunca Volvere," and the late Lola Beltrán on a medley of "Por un Amor" and "Cucurrucucu Paloma." And Rivera, much to her credit, is smart enough to salute these "estrellas mexicanas" (Mexican female stars) on her own terms; she makes certain that her own vibrant personality shines through instead of actually emulating any of them. Rivera also salutes someone who most definitely isn't Mexican -- Diana Ross -- on an unlikely remake of the Supremes' "Where Did Our Love Go," which is the CD's only English-language track and lends itself surprisingly well to a banda/corrido makeover. You wouldn't expect to find a Ross/Supremes classic on what is primarily a tribute to Mexican singers, but then, classic soul has been tremendously popular among Mexican-Americans over the years -- and Ross has certainly sold a ton of albums in Chicano neighborhoods. So when you think about it, the inclusion of "Where Did Our Love Go" makes perfect sense for Rivera, whose Homenaje a las Grandes deserves to go down in history as one of the most thoughtful, well-organized Mexican releases of 2003. ~ Alex Henderson, Rovi Hide synopsis

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