Heidi Carolyn Feldman
Black Rhythms of Peru (Wesleyan Wesleyan University Press, 2006. ISBN: 0819568147)
In the past years there has been a growing interest in the music of black Perú. A key figure in international awareness is musician David Byrne, who compiled some of the key figures in a best selling album titled The Soul of Black Peru, Afro-Peruvian Classics. One of the artists "discovered" in that compilation, Susana Baca, became a household name in world music circles, touring worldwide.
For those who seek further information about the history and development of Afro-Peruvian music, Heidi Carolyn Feldman, a lecturer in the department of communication at the University of California at San Diego, has written a fascinating book titled Black Rhythms of Peru: Reviving African Musical Heritage in the Black Pacific.
Feldman goes beyond the familiar names of Susana Baca and another popular touring band, Peru Negro. She begins with a brief history of how black Africans arrived to Perú, settling primarily in the coastal areas. By the 20th century, Afro-Peruvian culture had nearly disappeared, diluted in the wider Peruvian Criollo (Creole) culture.
The book talks about how a new renaissance in the 1950s brought new pride and interest in Afro-Peruvian heritage. This led the way for today’s explosion of Afro-Peruvian sounds.
Black Rhythms of Peru provides insightful details about the musical instruments used in coastal Peru, a combination of instruments of Spanish origin and African drums, primarily the cajón, a wooden box which originally came from boxes used to carry fish.
Feldman dedicates space to Peruvian researchers, such as folklore professor José Durán, who investigated the origins of Afro-Peruvian culture and created the Pancho Fierro company, an influential pioneer in showcasing Afro-Peruvian music.
In the latter chapters, Black Rhythms of Peru explores the key musicians involved in the resurgence of black Peruvian music: the essential Santa Cruz family, the pioneering Perú Negro, the development of Susana Baca and several of the newer generations of Afro-Peruvian artists.