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.
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.