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NPR Arts & Life

Latin Roots: Javiera Mena

This July, on a beautiful summer day just after the sun set, Chile's Javiera Mena took the outdoor stage to perform her first show in the city of Philadelphia. Mena is a Latin Grammy and MTV Europe Award nominee whose been cranking out indie electro-pop for the past decade.

Mena released her debut album, Esquemas Juveniles, in 2006. At the beginning of that year, Chile elected its first female president, Michelle Bachelet. By the end of that year, former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet died. There is no overstating the ruthless horrors of Pinochet's rule from 1973 to 1990 — he is remembered as a brutal dictator whose regime was responsible for torturing and killing thousands. The shadow his legacy cast over the country left a young generation with the need and desire for creative expression.

There was a groundswell of musicians that rose out of Chile in the 1990s, and by the early 2000s, the overwhelming desire for expressing fun through music was creating a movement that would lead to Chile being dubbed something of a pop paradise. Javiera Mena's music is part of that movement – the independent expression of fun and joy.

This year at Nuevofest in Philadelphia, she brought the fun in spades, along with the dancers to prove it. We're going to dive into a mini-concert courtesy of Mena, beginning with the title track to her 2014 album, Otra Era. Hear it in the player above.

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Corrected: August 17, 2017 at 12:00 AM EDT
An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Augusto Pinochet as a Cuban dictator. He was a Chilean dictator.