News 88.9 KNPR
Classical 89.7 KCNV

member station

Discover Music

Alt.Latino's Sonic Altar For Día De Los Muertos


The Día de los Muertos altar in the <em>Alt.Latino</em> World Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Felix Contreras, NPR

The Día de los Muertos altar in the Alt.Latino World Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

It was the face of a six-year-old boy that reminded me to honor those who have passed this year. He was the youngest victim of a mass shooting in Gilroy, Calif., this past July. His face has stayed with me; he looked like one of my sons looking back at me with his innocent smile.

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) has pre-Columbian, Mesoamerican roots based on indigenous philosophies about death and the hereafter. That outlook reaches through the centuries and fuels a celebration that has caught on here in the U.S. There's even a Disney movie.

But it's the music that surfaces the meaning behind the celebrations and face paintings. In what's become an annual tradition on Alt.Latino, we remember those we've lost through song with reverence and a little joy. It's a reminder to embrace life and embrace our loved ones even closer, especially our children.

Support comes from

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit
More from

You won’t find a paywall here. Come as often as you like — we’re not counting. You’ve found a like-minded tribe that cherishes what a free press stands for.  If you can spend another couple of minutes making a pledge of as little as $5, you’ll feel like a superhero defending democracy for less than the cost of a month of Netflix.

More Stories