About Us


Artistas y Músicos Latinoamericanos (AMLA) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) arts and artist’s organization founded in 2006 in North Philadelphia. It is a subsidiary corporation of Esperanza Inc. The mission of AMLA is to promote the development, dissemination and understanding of Latin America music and culture in the Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Region with a strong emphasis on youth.

AMLA draws on the history and programming of Asociación de Músicos Latinoamericanos (Asociación also formerly known as AMLA). This agency was founded by 125 Latino musicians in 1982 to counter the misrepresentation of Latino culture and to advocate for better working conditions for Latino musicians in the community. Asociación formed the Latin School for the Performing Arts (LSPA) for the development of artists and musicians, provided presentations and festivals for the community and became known for its specialized “Roots of Puerto Rican Music” workshops. This local success earned the organization national recognition including the national “Growing Up Taller” award (1997) for providing top level programming to at-risk youth, as well as Latin Beat magazine’s Siempre Salsa Special Recognition Award (2005) for extraordinary work in the field of Latin music education.

In 2006, founder Jesse Bermudez reached out to the Reverend Luis Cortés Jr, President of Esperanza to forge a strategic partnership. This relationship resulted in the creation of a new organization that draws upon the history and services of the former—and so AMLA (Artistas y Musicos Latino Americanos) was born in the Hunting Park neighborhood of Philadelphia.

Mission Statement

“AMLA promotes the development, dissemination, and understanding of Latin music and culture in the Philadelphia/Delaware Valley region with an emphasis on Youth.”


Board of Directors

Rev. Danny Cortés, Chair

Angel Ortiz, Vice Chair

Israel Colon, Treasurer

Michael Garcia

Juan Laureda

Natalia Alvarez-Figueroa

Steve Harner

Daniel de Jesús – Director of Music Education

Daniel de Jesús is an artist and educator based in Philadelphia, PA. Access to the arts for underserved communities is at the core of their work as a curator, educator, and practicing artist in Philadelphia. They were the Visual Arts Manager from 2007 – 2011 and Youth Artist Program manager from 2015 – 2021 at the Taller Puertorriqueño. They are now the Music Education & Community Relations Director for AMLA at Esperanza, a Latin Music School in the heart of North Philadelphia. 

They are a practicing multidisciplinary artist who works as a painter, composer, and songwriter versed in the worlds of visual & sonic tapestries. The themes of their work are often based on Latin American baroque stylings with a penchant for Electronic Beats and siren-like vocals. 

As an educator and administrator, de Jesús works to give youth access to experiences and opportunities to participate in the creative arts through inclusive programs in Philadelphia. As teaching artists, they work with organizations dedicated to uplifting our community’s youth to provide high-quality arts education. 


Teaching Artists


Mariano Medina – Percussion & Drums

Mariano has performed with artist such as Ray Sepulveda, Andy Montanez, NG2, Cano Estremera, Ismael Miranda, Grammy Award winner Ray DeLapaz and many more. His versatility has allowed him to evolve from a Latin percussionist to an all-around musician of pop, rock, jazz, hip hop and R&B. He is currently a member of La 95 and also works as an independent artist.



Stephen Lorek – Piano, Guitar, Bass, Vocals, Rock Band

Stephen Lorek is a singer-songwriter and an artist of rare form, cutting his teeth with modern Rock with his national touring band Shark tape and swooning audiences with his folk-influenced melodies and deep lyrics. Lorek has been featured on WXPN, performed with Phil Lesh, and won the John Lennon songwriter contest. Based in Philadelphia, he is a performer, teaching artist, and co-owner of the Doff and Tulip recording studio.


Emmanuel Lozada Mendez – Cuatro, Guitar, Piano, Vocals, Choir

Emmanuel Mendez, a Philly native and independent artist, wears multiple hats in the world of music. With a degree in Music Education from Temple University, he’s not just a multi-instrumentalist but also a dedicated teacher and producer. His musical journey is a fusion of genres, with a focus on Latin and Caribbean styles like Reggaeton and Latin Pop.



Zyra Gonzalez Monterrey – Piano, Choir Accompanist

Zyra Maria Gonzalez Monterrey, born and bred in Havana, Cuba, has a storied career that spans continents and various musical disciplines. A proud alumnus of the revered Havana University of the Arts, Zyra possesses a Bachelor’s Degree in both Piano Performance and Music History. Her initial foray into teaching piano commenced at the Cuban Conservatory, and her versatile talent made her a sought-after accompanist for the Cuban Opera Company for over seven seasons.



Richard Tucker – Guitar, Bass Guitar, Jr. Ensemble

Guitarist Richard Tucker is a native Philadelphian. His father introduced him to the guitar at the age of nine. He went on to study with Ron Henderson and Calvin Harris. By the age of 15, he was playing professionally. Richard is an active musician in Philadelphia, on tour, and works part-time as an educator and mentor to Philadelphia’s inner-city youth. Since 2009, he has taught guitar, bass, and beginner music theory at the AMLA School of Music and the Esperanza Academy.



Suzette Ortiz – Piano, Vocals, Harp

Suzzette Ortiz, a passionate pianist, composer, choral conductor, and educator has been serving her communities with the gift of music from her humble beginnings in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, to her many recent successes as a Pennsauken, New Jersey resident. She earned an undergraduate degree in piano performance at the Music Conservatory of Puerto Rico and has studied piano with Cesar “Pupi” Pedroso (of the world famous Cuban group, Los Van Van) and Elio Villafranca, Orlando Fiol, Sumi Tonooka, and the late Philadelphia jazz phenom, Jimmy Amadie.