Keeping Colombian Tradition Alive

Toto la Momposina -  La Bodega
Toto la Momposina – La Bodega
Toto la Momposina

La Bodega (Astar Artes, 2009)

Toto la Momposina is a national treasure in Colombia. She has spent most of her life researching the various folk traditions of Colombia. Her discography is not very prolific so it is a treat to listen to a new recording. Her latest if La Bodega. The album showcases the rich traditions of her land, primarily the sounds of the Caribbean coast.

In addition to her unique voice, Totó’s sound is characterized by drums specific to Colombia, indigenous cactus flutes, the use of salsa-style brass and the guitar. These instruments represent the melting pot of Colombia: indigenous music, Afro-Colombian rhythms and drums, Spanish instruments such as the guitar and the sounds of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean that arrived to Colombia through its northern ports.

The musical genres featured in La Bodega include well known Colombian styles such as cumbia, and the lesser known bullerenge, chalupa, garabato and mapale from Colombia’s Caribbean coast. There is also the Cuban influence in the form of Cuban son, guaracha, rumba and bolero.

Although some of Totó’s pieces are recreations of traditional songs, she also incorporates new material with lyrics that reflect social concern. She opens a discussion about the national debt and war, as well as the issue of emigration to Spain (Spanish dream), a country to which tens of thousands of Colombians migrated to in the past decade.

I make music to show to the world the expression of my soul, my heritage,” Totó muses, “the expression of what I feel without thinking in duality, without class conflict and politics. Without selfishness. True love—that is what I want to express.”

La Bodega showcases the powerful energy and passion of one of the most significant performers from South America.

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