Bogota tribute concert to celebrate African heritage

Bogota will celebrate Afro-Colombian and traditional culture and African heritage with a grand tribute concert on the country’s Independence Day, July 20.

Afro-Colombian artists and representatives of the country’s musical tradition will perform beginning at noon in the Bogota Sports Palace, paying tribute to four of the country’s most influential Afro-Colombian and traditional performers with a concert titled “Tribute to Afro-Colombian, black, traditional and palenquera culture.”

More than 2,300 people are expected to gather for the concert and to celebrate the day, which will honor traditional music genres such as bullerengue and palenquera, newspaper El Tiempo reported.

During the event, tribute will be paid to four famous and influential Afro-Colombian singers, Petrona Martinez, the “Queen of Bullerenque,” Leonor Gonzalez Mina, “La Negra Grande,” Graciela Salgado, a drummer and singer from San Basilio de Palenque, and Sonia Bazanta Vides, “Toto la Momposina.”

“La Negra Grande” was the first Afro-Colombian singer to succeed in the music world, and received a cultural merit award for her work in 2009, while “Toto la Momposina” is considered the world’s best known representative of Colombia’s traditional music, though she also integrates into the modern music scene. In 2010, Puerto Rican hip hop duo Calle 13 announced plans to record with the Bolivarian native.

The concert will also highlight the music most representative of the country’s different Afro-Colombian regions, with a virtual musical journey around the country, including music from the San Andres island, the Cauca Pacific region, the Valle del Cauca and Choco departments and the Caribbean Coast.

Traditional music will not, however, be the only music present at the event — the country’s current musical tendencies will also be on display, with one of Colombia’s best-known salsa bands, “La 33,” heading the modern side of show.

The event, sponsored by the capital city’s Culture Ministry, is one of a number of events celebrating African heritage around the country — and worldwide — over the course of what the United Nations (U.N.) has designated the International Year for People of African Descent.

According to Bogota Culture Minister Mariana Garces Cordoba, “the concert will be an opportunity to highlight the contributions that the Afro-Colombian community has given Colombia and that has contributed to the development of the country in different fields.”

“In this concert one will see how, in their voices, the histories of the black communities tie together, as well as their achievements and the memory of mother Africa,” said Garces Cordoba.

The International Year for People of African Descent aims to strengthen national policies and international cooperation to promote cultural rights, societal inclusion and respect for African heritage and culture.

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