Friday, October 16, 2009

Afro-Peruvian Singers Eva Ayllon and Susana Baca Honor Chabuca Granda

Posted By on 10.16.09 at 12:22 PM

Susana Baca
  • Susana Baca
I’m sure I’m not the only one who was introduced to Afro-Peruvian music when Luaka Bop Records released the compilation Afro-Peruvian Classics: the Soul of Black Peru in 1995. The label signed singer Susana Baca, who, for many in the U.S., became the face of Afro-Peruvian music, if only because she was the only person whose recordings you could easily find. Though veteran group Peru Negro was also releasing albums and occasionally touring, they didn’t have a single recognizable face like Baca—or an expert marketing campaign behind them.

Over the years I’ve realized that there’s more to the tradition than Baca—who, despite her success abroad, isn’t a major star in her homeland. In fact, singer Eva Ayllon, who also had a track on that Luaka Bop comp, is much more popular. In the past few years she’s finally had some recordings released in the U.S., including the recent Kimba Fá (Times Square). She’s more of a pure entertainer than Baca, who infuses all her work with a strong sense of ethnomusicological mission, and her stylistic range is much broader—she’s more concerned in general with musical criollismo.

This year they’re each saluting a pioneering Peruvian singer who was a huge influence on both of them: Chabuca Granda. Granda only began working with Afro-Peruvian material relatively late in her life (she died at 63 in 1983), but her reach was great and hasn’t diminished with her passing; in 1994 Caetano Veloso recorded her song “Fina Estampa.” It’s hard to find information about her in English, but the music I’ve heard is gorgeous.

Eva Ayllon
  • Eva Ayllon
On her recent EP Seis Poemas (Luaka Bop) Baca covers three Granda tunes; Ayllon, who’s regularly performed and recorded Granda songs throughout her career, has a couple on her new album too. On Sunday night Ayllon performs a concert devoted to Granda’s music at the Logan Square Auditorium; she has a forthcoming concert DVD that will feature the same program.

Today’s playlist:

Vittorio Ghielmi and Lorenzo Ghielmi Il Suonar Parlante, Johann Sebastian Bach: Die Kunst der Fuge (Winter & Winter)
Keletigui et Ses Tambourinins, The Syliphone Years (Sterns)
October Trio + Brad Turner, Looks Like It’s Going to Snow (Songlines)
Polwechsel & John Tilbury, Field (Hatology)
Robert Hampson, Vectors (Touch)

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