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| 7/22/2009 12:00:00 AM

Totó La Momposina: Colombia's Afro-Caribbean star

Jul 22--We have to hand it to Colombia: Some of the most popular Latin singers today hail from the South American nation, including pop/rock superstars Juanes and Shakira.

But traditional Colombian music has an entirely different sound, a joyous, festive mix drawing from indigenous flutes, African drums and Spanish/Moorish guitars.

Its most emblematic artist is the legendary Afro-Caribbean singer and dancer Totó La Momposina, who, after a five-year absence, will play at the 13th annual Chase Latino Cultural Festival, an 11-day music, film and performance fest at Queens Theatre in the Park that kicks off July 30.

“I am an artist not for the money or the marketing or to be a star,” La Momposina, 68, said in Spanish from Bogotá, where she lives, “but because I need to make the music of Colombia a star.”

Born into a family of musicians in Mompós, a town on the banks of the Magdalena River — hence La Momposina — she said her artistry dates to when she was “conceived.”

She started performing at 12, almost six decades ago, with a group headed by her mother, who was a singer and dancer.

Her African-rooted cumbias and porros, what she calls “música de la identidad” (identity music), blend traditional pre-Columbian flutes known as gaitas with the tiple, a guitar slightly smaller than the acoustic ones, and the drums brought by slaves.
 
Read more here.
 
Semana International delivers news about Colombia in English. Find more in our home.
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