Washington DC, USA -Smithsonian Folkways Recordings has released Jíbaro Hasta el Hueso: Mountain Music of Puerto Rico by Ecos de Borinquen. The record features a group led by Miguel Santiago Díaz, named Puerto Rico’s national troubadour in 1974, performing traditional music that is considered by many Puerto Ricans on the island and the mainland U.S. to be a source of cultural and national pride.
Dating as far back as the 1600s, música jíbara originated among the people living on small farms and towns along the mountainous spine of Puerto Rico. Consisting of improvised poetry sung over the seis and aguinaldo musical forms, the music transmits the rich cultural history of the Puerto Rican people. After having lost popularity in favor of pop music during the urban population explosion of the 1950s, música jíbara enjoyed a resurgence in the 1960s and 70s, when the currents of racial and cultural pride surging in the U.S. spread to the island.
Today, the mere sound of this music can provoke a cheer among Puerto Ricans, and is seen as a national musical flag. In the words of Karol Aurora De Jesús Reyes, the singer featured on this recording, the music “Will make us shine around the world, until the people hear the music and say, ‘Look, that is the music of Puerto Rico.'”
Reyes is joined by the rest of Ecos de Borinquen, a group of virtuoso jíbaro musicians assembled and directed by Miguel Santiago Diaz. Diaz emerged from the jíbaro resurgence of the 1970s as one of its premier performers, and was named the “national trovador of Puerto Rico” in 1974 by the Institute of Puerto Rican culture.