Late greats Tito Puente, Carmen Miranda, Selena, Carlos Gardel and Celia Cruz were honored with their own U.S. postage stamps as part of the “Latin Music Legends Series” for their invaluable contributions to the entertainment industry and international impact.
The stamps went on sale online on Wednesday.
“There is no doubt that the legends are deserving of this recognition,” says Roy Betts, manager of community relations for the U.S. Postal Service. “We are proud to be bringing them to life.
"They have made historic contributions," he added. "They are icons not only in the Latin community, but in a larger stage.”
Betts is not surprised that these entertainers were the chosen few for the prestigious honor. According to the spokesman, the tribute speaks volumes of the U.S. Latin American community.
“We received ten of thousands of suggestions," Betts says. "The selection process is all of the public sending in ideas in forms of letters and post cards.
"Recommendations come in from all over – from the public, organizations, even Congress, ” says Betts. “The Latino community is thriving and emerging as a major force and contributor. If anyone had any doubts about Latin music’s contributions to the world, those doubts should be erased.”
Recommendations sent to the U.S. Postal Service are reviewed by the Private Citizens Advisory Committee—a group who nominate the top 25 candidates of the year.
The committee is selected by the Postmaster General, who makes the final decision on which artists will receive their own stamp.
The selected artists also had special custom-made guitars made in their honor. A number of them were given as gifts to their respective families.
The musical instruments were handed out at a ceremony held at a South by Southwest restaurant in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday.
From April through October, the guitars will embark on a “Gibson Guitar Show Room” museum tour.
Upon completion, these will live in the Smithsonian museum in Washington, D.C.
“We wanted to tie the tour to Hispanic Heritage Month this upcoming September,” Betts says.
Ethel Kessler, an experienced art director who helped design the stamps, is delighted the images will also be seen enlarged on the guitars.
Rafael López, a Mexican-American musician and visual master, helped Kessler bring the performers to life.
“I greatly respect them [the artists] and love dancing Latin music,” Kessler says. “When they say Latin music I say, 'Boom-Chica-Boom-Boom!'”
Putting together the final image for the stamps was no easy task. Kessler said it included comparing tons of record album images and iconic photographs of the artists throughout their lifespan and career.
“You have to get all the power and elements in as small space as possible,” says Kessler. “I wanted to see the stamp and see them in their glory…hear the music.”
After two and a half years of planning, the product was complete. Kessler hopes that others will treasure the collection as much as she does.
“I appreciate the richness, the culture of these celebrities,” she says. “The stamp is miniature but the audience is huge.”
You can reach Alexandra Gratereaux at: Alexandra.Gratereaux@foxnewslatino.com