Agúzate is dedicated to the advocacy and promotion of independent Latin music in Chicago, with an emphasis on Afro-Latin culture. Founded in 2003 by Puerto Rico-born Omar Torres-Kortright as a small live salsa and Latin jazz calendar, Agúzate has now evolved to a unique multi-arts approach that helps facilitate some of the highest quality Latin music projects in the city. For the last 10 years Agúzate has collaborated with the most distinguished programmers in Chicago, including The Old Town School of Folk Music, Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, Sound Culture, The Chicago Cultural Center, The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, The Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture and more.
As an online platform, Agúzate has expanded its scope of coverage to include not only music with African and Afro-Latin roots, but also art, food and other manifestations of cultural expression. Don Macica, a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Arte y Vida, El Béisman and other cultural journals, was brought on in 2014 as principal writer and content manager. In addition to original writing, Agúzate uses its social media reach to highlight activity by both Chicago-based and visiting artists and musicians.
Agúzate’s signature event, the decade-old Annual Tribute to the Improvisational Singer has inspired a number of subsequent projects, including the documentary “Alive and Kicking: La Historia de Chamaco Ramírez” and the Annual Afro-Caribbean Improvised Music Festival.
Why do we call ourselves Agúzate?
In Latin American Spanish Agúzate is a call to action: “Be aware”, “Stay sharp” or “Don’t miss out” are all good definitions of the word. Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz’s album Agúzate made its mark in Latin music history in 1970. Along with other seminal works of that rich musical period, Agúzate propelled the world phenomenon that we now call Salsa. A mix of Jazz, R&B and Afro-Caribbean music, Salsa brought together a broad mix of musicians, dancers and enthusiasts with diverse cultural backgrounds. In keeping with that unifying tradition, Agúzate celebrates the diversity of our city through innovative programing and partnerships with the most respected artistic and cultural organizations in the Chicago area and beyond.