Perhaps the best-known bilingual children's singer, Jose-Luis Orozco quietly worked for decades to build the self-esteem of bilingual children. His simple, participatory songs have been taught by two generations of teachers, and his recordings remain classics in the bilingual genre.
Born in Mexico City but raised in over 34 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe, Orozco received a Master's degree in multicultural education. He first started performing in 1956, but didn't switch to performing for kids until 1961. From the beginning, Orozco made a point of including bilingual songs in his repertoire, even when much of his young audience did not speak Spanish. His pride in his culture was infectious.
In 1971, Orozco released what was to be the first of 12 volumes for children, Lirica Infantil: Latin American Children's Folklore, on the Bilingual Media Productions label. The album featured classic songs from Mexican, Central, and South American culture, including "Guantanamera" and "Los Pollitos." Though it was the climate of the time to often ignore those that did not speak English, Lirica Infantil was very well-received. The following year, Orozco started his own label, Arcoiris. Orozco released his subsequent volumes on that label, and, in later years, reissued them on CD.
Throughout the '70s, '80s, and '90s, Orozco kept up a vigorous touring schedule, often lending his support to the bilingual education movement in the United States. He produced a bilingual songbook, De Colores, which won an American Library Association Notable Award. In 1989, he was honored by the California Association for Bilingual Education; the Association of Mexican American Educators also honored him in 1995. ~ P.J. Swift