Say, have you ever heard of Totó La Momposina? No? Well neither had I, until my editor put me onto her.
So I set out to see just who she was, and thanks to the modern marvel that is Google, within minutes my office was filled with tribal, Afro-Caribbean, and indigenous sounds from this excellent Colombian performer's website. Congos and distinctly island-style percussion thrummed and Toto's powerful voice resonated from my tiny desktop speakers. Backing vocals in the form of chanting echoed some of her lyrics while sidestepping others. And just like that, I was whisked back to the days when I lived next door to a santero family. All that was missing was the midnight bay of the sacrificial goat. The cleaning lady even poked her head in, her hand encircling a live chicken's neck.
"Where the hell did she get that?" I wondered after ushering her out with assurances that el babalao was not coming.
In any event, we could wax musicology all day about the similarities between what Totó does and the sounds of my native Cuba and then highlight the distinct nuances that separate her traditionally tinted Colombian grooves from the aforementioned. But you'd get a far better feel listening to it yourself.
Luckily, she's coming in concert Friday! If even a portion of the energy you hear on the tracks translates, we're in for one hell of a show.
Fri., Aug. 21, 2009