Celebrating its fifth season, the 2015 PBS Arts Fall Festival brings international music superstar Gloria Estefan back to television alongside top Hispanic artists including legendary Broadway star Chita Rivera and world-renowned percussionist Sheila E. The seven-time Grammy Award-winner hosts the Festival each Friday for eight weeks, starting October 9 at 9 p.m. ET (check local listings).
The series kicks off with the "Unity – The Latin Tribute to Michael Jackson," a passion project of Peruvian-born, Miami-raised producer/multi-instrumentalist/arranger Tony Succar, featuring Michael Jackson’s greatest hits interpreted by award-winning Latin artists in a concert hosted by celebrated percussionist Sheila E. "Unity" is said to be a passion project for Peruvian-born, Miami-raised producer and multi-instrumentalist Tony Succar, who also produced and arranged the chart-topping album of the same name. Signature Jackson songs like “Smooth Criminal,” “I Want You Back,” “Billie Jean” and others, will be "reimagined" by top musicians from throughout Latin America. Performers include Jon Secada, Tito Nieves, Michael Stuart, Obie Bermúdez, Jennifer Peña, Kevin Ceballo, Judith Hill, Jean Rodriguez, and more.
“The Unity Project began as an homage to Michael, and to underscore the key messages I always associated with his music: unity and love. These themes drive the album and the concert, and the resulting music has been remarkable,” said Succar. “Every song is true to the essence of the original, but I predict viewers will be inspired to find new moves in their living rooms as salsa and other Latin beats drive their favorite songs.”
“We are kicking off the fifth annual PBS Arts Fall Festival with a truly unique and special musical performance. Sheila E., Tony Succar, and all of the featured artists bring tremendous energy and talent to the stage, and you have never heard Michael Jackson’s songs sound quite like this,” said Donald Thoms, Vice President of Programming for PBS and festival curator. “[It’s] is a marvelous testament to the diversity of art and performances being created in the U.S., and we are delighted to showcase that diversity on PBS.”
PBS has released a trailer for the program, which is embedded at the bottom of this post.
The full Hispanic Heritage Month programming lineup is listed below:
AMERICAN MASTERS “Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey”
Discover the life and work of Mexican-American photographer Pedro E. Guerrero, who collaborated with Frank Lloyd Wright and sculptors Alexander Calder and Louise Nevelson. A special presentation of AMERICAN MASTERS and VOCES. —Friday, September 18, 9:00–10:00 p.m. ET
POV “Don’t Tell Anyone” (“No Le Digas a Nadie”)
Meet immigrant activist Angy Rivera, the country’s only advice columnist for undocumented youth. In a community where silence is often seen as necessary for survival, she steps out of the shadows to share her own parallel experiences of being undocumented and sexually abused. — Monday, September 21, 10:00–11:30 p.m. ET
ON TWO FRONTS – LATINOS & VIETNAM
Examine the Latino experience during a war that placed its heaviest burden on the working class. Framing the documentary are memoirs of two siblings who stood on opposite sides of the Vietnam War, one a POW and the other a protestor at home. —Tuesday, September 22, 10:00– 11:30 p.m. ET
THE WOMEN’S LIST: AMERICAN MASTERS
Meet 15 women who define contemporary American culture in Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ new “List” film featuring Madeleine Albright, Gloria Allred, Laurie Anderson, Sara Blakely, Margaret Cho, Edie Falco, Elizabeth Holmes, Betsey Johnson, Alicia Keys, Aimee Mullins, Nancy Pelosi, Rosie Perez, Shonda Rhimes, Wendy Williams and Nia Wordlaw. — Friday, September 25, 2015, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
PBS ARTS FALL FESTIVAL: UNITY – THE LATIN TRIBUTE TO MICHAEL JACKSON
World-class drummer and percussionist Sheila E. hosts a concert special that showcases award-winning Latin artists and a 37-piece orchestra performing Latin-infused arrangements of the songs on Tony Succar’s album Unity: The Latin Tribute to Michael Jackson. The concert features 10 classic songs from the hit 12-track album, such as “Smooth Criminal,” “I Want You Back” and “Billie Jean” re-imagined by musicians from all over Latin America. On its release in April 2015, the album topped the Amazon Latin World Music Charts, the iTunes World Music Charts and the Billboard Tropical Charts at #1. Produced by Unity Entertainment Corporation and Oregon Public Broadcasting in association with Universal Music Classics. — Friday, October 9, 9:00–10:00 p.m. ET
THE HISPANIC HERITAGE AWARDS
Join host Rita Moreno for a celebration of the country’s highest tribute to Latinos by Latinos. The program includes performances and appearances by celebrated Hispanic artists. Talent and honorees TBA. — Friday, October 9, 10:00 –11:00 p.m. ET
PBS ARTS FALL FESTIVAL: GREAT PERFORMANCES “Chita Rivera: A Lot of Livin’ to Do”
Legendary Broadway performer Chita Rivera has been lighting up international stages for more than 70 years. With starring roles in such iconic Broadway shows as West Side Story, Bye Bye Birdie and Chicago, Rivera returned to Broadway in 2015 to star in the final John Kander/Fred Ebb/Terrence McNally musical The Visit. In addition to archival clips from Rivera’s many shows and TV appearances, this career retrospective also features interviews with Dick Van Dyke, Ben Vereen, Carol Lawrence and many more to tell the story of Rivera’s peerless show biz virtuosity. —Friday, November 6, 9:00 –10:00 p.m. ET