Berlin, Germany – This year’s WOMEX Award goes to Totó La Momposina. The Colombian singer’s entire life, has been dedicated to representing the music of her roots, while never shrinking from finding innovative ways of bringing it forward into the modern age.
Through teaching the Afro-Colombian traditions in the Caribbean, through composition, dance and performance, Totó’s artistry manifests the fertile meeting ground of richly varied Colombian cultures: the African, the indigenous Indian and the Spanish. And in her, that music has found not only a treasured champion, but its greatest interpreter.
“Totó La Momposina is one of those remarkable artists who brought Caribbean musical styles to the world even before the world-music market had been established. One could say that she was actually one of those who has helped to make it happen!
Although her first European album was released in 1985, it was the 1991 WOMAD tour which brought her to worldwide attention and led to her groundbreaking debut album for Real World, La Candela Viva. Since then I believe there is no concert or festival promoter who hasn’t had a wish to present her to their local audience. This looks set to continue as there are few artists who give so much passion, spontaneity and performance technique (which includes first class dancing) on stage.
Totó always claims that she presents traditional music of Colombia and it’s true that the listener gets an incredible variety of rhythms such as cumbia, bullerengue, chalupa, malupa, but there also elements of Cuban son, guaracha, rumba and bolero which can all be heard on the Colombian Atlantic coast. Pacanto, her release from 1998, is a beautiful example of how this one artist can connect to so many local styles and make them global inside 70 minutes.
Totó La Momposina is an artist with incredible talent but she also knows that talent is not enough for a lifelong music career. That is why she has always worked hard to improve her voice technique whenever she could. She was already respected enough to be asked to accompany Gabriel Garcia Marquez when he received the Nobel prize in 1982, but there was always more to come. With her never-ending wish for improvement alongside her honesty, personal charm and warmth, Totó’s music becomes greater than ever and so does her contribution to the legacy of Colombian, Latin and World music.”[laudation by Bogdan Benigar (WOMEX 2006 Jury Member)]
Since its introduction in 1999, the WOMEX Award has been honoring quality, creativity and success in World Music on the international level. Open to all proposals, and curated by the 7 Samurai of the WOMEX Jury, it pays homage to all kinds of achievement in the field: musical excellence, social effectiveness, commercial success, cultural or political impact, and lifetime achievement.
So far, WOMEX has honored Juan de Marcos and Nick Gold (1999), Mahotella Queens (2000), Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (2001) and Jivan Gasparyan (2002). Since 2003, WOMEX took two steps further. In 2003 it honored Freemuse – The World Forum on Music and Censorship, for the first time an institution rather than an individual. Followed by the sixth WOMEX Award in 2004 which was dedicated to Marc Hollander
and Crammed Discs for 25 years of pioneering label work in the field of world music. Last year’s Award was given to the almost hundred-years-old energetic Taarab singer Bi Kidude from Zanzibar.
Author: World Music Central News Department
World music news from the editors at World Music Central