Catalina Maria Johnson

Photo by Carolina Sánchez

Catalina Maria Johnson Ph D1 cr Carolina Sanchez

Catalina Maria Johnson, Ph.D., is a music journalist passionate about sharing Latinx culture, history, and influence through music.

She is an enthusiastic and creative speaker who has been a speaker and panelist for programs at universities, libraries, and schools for at least 15 years. Her presentations address language, music, cultural studies, history, Latinx history and culture, and similar topics.

Presentation 1 of 2

Latin Hip Hop as a New Poetry

Latin hip hop artists are advancing the poetic traditions of their countries in unique ways. Ana Tijoux from Chile was raised on protest songs and Pablo Neruda; Residente from Calle 13, Puerto Rico spits out rhymes as carefully crafted as any poet’s; Niña Dioz from Mexico reads dictionaries to find the precise words to fit her ideas and rhymes; Xiutehzcatl from Boulder, Colorado rhymes in three languages: Spanish, English and Nahuatl–an ancient indigenous language. Nevertheless, academia and poetic circles have surprisingly not embraced and celebrated these artists as poets.

This program, with video and lyric examples, will make a case for hip hop as the new poetry with a focus on Latinos in the U.S. and the Americas. The presentation, paired with slides and a rich set of musical videos, is lively, light and fun, and focused on participation, discussion, and musical enjoyment!

Program Logistics

The presentation takes approximately 45 minutes, with extra time at the end for Q&A, making it approximately one hour.

Presentation 2 of 2

Latinos in Illinois and the USA: Music as a Cultural History

Music can be viewed and “read” as a tool that shares the cultural values, roots, and history of peoples. Numerous Latino musical genres share the concerns of Latinos throughout the years —from songs documenting daily life to celebration tunes to protest music and more— the music tells the stories of our lives.

This program focuses on a broad overview of milestones from the last several centuries years of music in the Latine U.S. as a way of understanding the history, roots, and concerns of Latines in this land, with a special emphasis on Latine populations that have profoundly marked the state of Illinois’ culture and music.

The presentation, paired with slides and musical samples, is lively and focused on participation, discussion, and exploration of complex topics through musical enjoyment!

Program Logistics

Available virtual and in-person, this presentation takes approximately 45 minutes, with extra time at the end for Q&A, making it approximately one hour. A projector and screen are required.


Catalina Maria Johnson, Ph.D. is a Chicago-based music journalist. She hosts and produces her own radio show, Beat Latino, which airs in Chicago on Vocalo (Chicago Public Media) and other USA cities as well as Berlin. Catalina is also a regular contributor to NPR, Songlines and other publications, and an editorial board member of Revista Contratiempo.

Catalina’s music journalism explores the extraordinary diversity of the global music scene with an emphasis on Latine music – from the most traditional roots music to cutting-edge electronic grooves.

Book this Road Scholar

Follow the steps below to book a presentation.
  1. Contact Catalina to schedule a date and time via email at or phone at (773) 960-8531.
  2. Once you and Catalina have agreed upon a date and time, complete the online Road Scholars Host Organization application.
Contact Us

Fairouz AbuGhazaleh
Director of Statewide Programs