Saturday, February 20, 2016

Afro- Peruvian Singer Susana Baca - Maria Lando (information & examples)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents information about the internationally esteemed Afro-Peruvian singer Susana Baca. This post also showcases two examples of the now classic Peruvian song "Maria Lando" which made Susana Baca world famous. An English language explanation of that song is also included in this post.

The content of this post is presented for cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Susana Baca for her musical legacy and thanks to Chabuca Granda for her composition of the song "Maria Lando". Thanks also to David Byrne for his work in promoting Afro-Peruvian music and thanks to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publishers of these examples on YouTube.

"Susana Esther Baca de la Colina... born Chorrillos, Lima Province, Peru, 24 May 1944) is a prominent Peruvian singer-songwriter, school teacher, folklorist, ethnomusicologist and two-times Latin Grammy Award winner. She has been a key figure in the revival of Afro-Peruvian music.

In July 2011, she was named Peru's Minister of Culture in the Ollanta Humala government,[1] becoming the second Afro-Peruvian cabinet minister in the history of independent Peru.[2]
Baca grew up in a coastal fishing village Chorrillos, a district of the Lima Province of Peru, and part of greater Lima.[3] Her music is a mixture of traditional and contemporary. Her backing band features indigenous Peruvian instruments such as the cajón ("wooden box", whose origins lie in an upturned fruit crate), udu (clay pot), and quijada (jawbone of a burro) cheko a dried gourd, as well as acoustic guitar and electric upright baby bass. Although many of her songs are based on traditional forms such as the landó or vals, she also incorporates elements of Cuban and Brazilian music. Her debut CD for Luaka Bop, produced by Greg Landau, brought her to the attention of World Music audiences worldwide.

Her songs are poetic (with lyrics composed by some of Latin America's premier poets, with whom she collaborates), rich with evocative imagery, and her voice is delicate yet soulful. She has an elegant and engaging stage presence, gliding gracefully about the stage while singing. Her delivery is so deeply felt and emotion-filled as to project a spiritual character, even in songs that are not expressly religious in subject matter.

Baca is an important figure in the revival of Afro-Peruvian music within Peru (see, for example, dancers from the Perú Negro troupe, as well as "Festejo" music), which, like the culture that produced it, had previously been little recognized, but which is now regarded as an important part of Peruvian culture. Baca has contributed much to its international popularity, which began in 1995 with the release of the compilation CD Afro-Peruvian Classics: The Soul of Black Peru. The album, which features the Baca song "Maria Lando", was released by the Luaka Bop record label, which belongs to ex-Talking Heads frontman David Byrne.[4]
In November 2011 she was elected to the Organization of American States (OAS) as the President of the Commission of Culture for the period 2011–13."

"To listen to Susana Baca’s music is to become immersed in the history of her people, the descendants of enslaved Africans in the country of Peru. Some of Susana’s repertoire is recent, but a lot of it is years and years old. Baca says that she chooses the songs she sings not just because she likes them, but also to honor both those who wrote the songs and those who the songs are about. You might say that Susana Baca’s music catalog is the world’s most beautiful, and funkiest, history lesson.

Baca’s personal history is as fascinating as her music. From her beginnings, growing up in a servant’s alley in Lima, Peru, to her current status as a internationally-known diva of song, it’s been an inspiring and unlikely journey....

[Susana Baca speaking]

I was born in Lima and grew up in a small town in Peru called Chorrillos. It was a very small place, a resort where rich people used to spend the summer. There were lovely big houses that faced the ocean, a port, and the population was made up of fishermen and people who worked the fields. A lot of people were from the mountains. The city had five streets and then there were small farms. My father was a chauffeur for a wealthy family and my mother worked as a cook and sometimes washed clothes.

I grew up with music all around me. My father played the guitar. In Lima we lived on a small street, really more of an alleyway where many servants lived, off the main streets past the fancy neighborhoods. My father was the official musician of the alley. Whenever there was a neighborhood party, he would be called to play. He played serranitas which are tales of the Golondrinos, people who came from Los Andes near the coast in the time of cotton-picking. My father learned the serranitas from them in his childhood...

My parents didn’t support this idea [of me being a professional singer] in the beginning. My father was strongly opposed to the idea, and my mother originally wanted me to be a teacher. Women in Peru weren’t supposed to sing on stage. Chabuca Granda told me that she used pseudonyms for her first compositions. Her name did not appear anywhere, otherwise, she would have been ostracized by her family. It was terrible for a woman to be an artist. It was seen as a lowly profession, like prostitution. I tried not to become a professional singer, mainly for my mother’s sake. She thought I wouldn’t be able to earn a living. That’s my mother’s image of musicians. My mother told me many stories about musicians who were not famous like Felipe Pingo, a renowned musician and composer who died of tuberculosis. She said, “This is the destiny of my daughter,” and she pushed me to become a teacher. I liked studying to be a teacher; I dedicated myself to being a singer later.”....

Example #1: Susana Baca - Maria Lando

Harold Navarro, Uploaded on May 27, 2009

This is the first song from the compilation "The Soul of Black Perú" that gathers an amazing group of afro-peruvian music artists compiled by David Byrne (the ex-lead singer of the well known rock band Talking Heads). In a way the compilation works for an introduction to black/creole music that emerged during the Colonial Period which combines basically African, Spanish and Andean influences.

This is the song that led to Bacas international fame, the song begins with a description of the early morning hours in a small town of Perú:

"The dawn breaks like a statue
Like a winged statue spreading across the city
And the noon rings, a bell made of water
A golden singing bell that keeps us from feeling alone"

The rest of the song talks about a servant girl named María Landó, for whom "there is no dawn", "there is no noon", "there is only lack of sleep", "suffering", "and work for others". In general describes the way slaves lived and worked on the sugar fields during the Colonial Period. The song was composed by Chabuca Granda, a noted Peruvian composer who Baca often mentions as one of her heroes and mentors.

This is the first of a couple of videos i intend to brought up for all of you lovers of traditional music, better known as world music. Enjoy!
The Spanish lyrics for this song are shown on this example's screen.

Example #2: Susana Baca - Maria Lando - Encuentro en el Estudio [HD]

EncuentroenelEstudio, Published on Jun 6, 2013

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