The Warren Morrow Latin Music Festival (WMLMF) is the first Latin Music Festival in Iowa! And it brings a variety of Latin music bands with genres that include Rock en Español, salsa, cumbia, regional Mexican, samba, Afro-Cuban and Caribbean rhythms to Des Moines!
WMLMF was founded to honor the life of Warren Morrow, a Latino community leader, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and mentor who died unexpectedly at the age of 34. Warren was a music lover and wanted to bring more live Latin music to Des Moines. His wife and friends wanted to continue his legacy by founding a Latin music concert in his memory on his birthday weekend in 2012.
In 2017 the concert grew to an all-day, all-ages Latin music festival. Backed by generous individual and corporate support, WMLMF showcases local Latin bands such as the Brazilian 2wins and Parranderos Latin Combo, as well as national acts like La Santa Cecilia, a Grammy-winning Latin band, Quitapenas, a California band that has performed at Coachella, and Making Movies with music on three Billboard Charts.
Warren Morrow, 2018 IOWA LATINO HALL OF FAME inductee
How WMLMF Began
“I met Warren in 2008 when he sponsored my first ever Spanish rock event, Que Viva El Rock. It was downtown, Des Moines, at La Roca. Warren provided us sponsorship money and asked for nothing in return. That was my very first impression of Warren, one of giving. That impression has remained with me ever since. Throughout the years I would occasionally run into Warren at places like Dos Rios or The Copacabana and we’d always have friendly conversations. When he passed away unexpectedly in 2012, I attended his funeral and it was one of a kind. Amidst the sounds of live music, everyone shared their fondest memories and personal stories about Warren that ranged from his musical interests to the many of his tremendous accomplishments within the community, which was a considerable list given his young age. It was beyond inspiring.
Christina Fernandez-Morrow and I talked about one month after his passing and decided we wanted to pay homage to Warren, who truly embodied what it took to be a great local hero. We scouted the best Latino talent in Des Moines: Miriam De Dios Woodward, Felipe Gallardo, Mayra De Catalan, Maria Paredes, Justin Gross, Fernando Aveiga and got to work. This is how the very first Warren Memorial Concert originated. We wanted to keep Warren’s legacy alive, his community advocacy; his emphasis towards educating and empowering youth; his commitment to increasing the quality of life for underserved communities; and his passion for bringing live Spanish music to Des Moines. When you have good intentions, success is inevitable. That motto is exemplary of Warren and the work he left behind that we still benefit from to this day.
We are now no longer the small concert we started as. We’ve grown and evolved now into the Warren Morrow Latin Music Festival. Organized by a new team, comprised of different yet equally dedicated members that are continuously striving for this event to carry on Warren’s legacy, vision, advocacy, and philanthropy. By being a part of the Latino Arts Initiative, a non-profit organization started by this committee, we will continue to expand our efforts towards becoming an invaluable art resource for our community. I feel very fortunate to play a small role in something so special and significant. We hope that young boys and girls see Warren as a local hero and that they desire to build upon the legacy he created and pursue what he showed us all is very possible through passion and commitment.”
— Amner Martinez, Festival Co-Founder
View our past festivals.