UW-Madison Prof. Publishes Biography

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For Immediate Release


Kristin Gilpatrick, Marketing Manager
Wisconsin Historical Society Press

Book Shares Migrant Farmer’s Story in Spanish and English

Del Campo al Escenario – the Spanish subtitle of a new Wisconsin Historical Society Press biography – notes the bookends of the continuing life journey of migrant farmer turned musician Cris Plata. Author Maia A. Surdam shares Plata’s inspiring story of hard work and great music with young readers in the first dual language addition to the Society Press’s Badger Biographies Series.


Cris Plata: From Fields to Stage/Del Campo al Escenario follows the Plata family from farming in Texas to the Astico farm in Wisconsin. It also discusses hardships that the Mexican-American family faced along the way, from poor working conditions and low wages to racial prejudice, and explains how music uplifted them. After long hours in the field, the family sang songs from Mexico, and Plata learned to play the guitar, accordion, and mandolin as early as age five. He now writes his own songs and performs throughout the Midwest.


Like his biography, Plata’s life has been written in two languages. Plata grew up speaking Spanish and playing Mexican music with his family and friends, but he also spoke English, went to school with mostly white children, and embraced both cultures.


Plata’s incredible farm and family journey from migrant fields to American stages writes a beautiful Wisconsin melody. An e-book edition of “Cris Plata: From Fields to Stage/Del Campo al Escenario” is also available.


Media: For review copies of this book, book photos, or event information, please contact Kristin Gilpatrick, Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 816 State St., Madison, WI 53706; 608-264-6465; email: kristin.gilpatrick@wisconsinhistory.org.

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About the Author:
Maia A. Surdam is an educator who has her PhD in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research explores farming, family, and community in the rural Midwest. Born and raised in a small Michigan town and educated in Ann Arbor and Madison, she is a Midwesterner at heart who currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina. 

Cris Plata and his band “Extra Hot” specialize in the South Texan music that influenced Plata’s early years. Plata describes his music as “Tex-Mex” with the “Tex” standing for Texas singer-songwriters and the “Mex” standing for the music of his Mexican roots. The band performs Plata-original music, including Tex-Mex polkas, country rock, swing tunes, Mexican ballads, and more. Plata lives in Columbus, Wisconsin.


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