Graciela Salgado, a renowned singer and preserver of African and Afro-Colombian folklore died Saturday in Cartagena at the age of 83.
Born and raised in small northern Colombian town, San Basilio de Palenque, Graciela Salgado was the lead singer of the Colombian singing group, “Las Alegres Ambulancias,” who toured the world spreading African and Afro-Colombian music to city after city.
Salgado and the group were known for combining traditional African styles of singing with intense repetitive drumming which led cultural expert in the region, Manuel Perez to say that with the singer’s death, “heaven is now sounding its drums.”
“This is a great loss for culture and folklore, [but] her legacy will live on across Colombia and the Caribbean,” said Ayos Nacira Figueroa, director of the Culture and Heritage Institute of Cartagena. “Folklore has lost one of its most prolific songwriters and singers of recent times. She remains alive with her ancestral songs, traditions and rituals.”
Salgado died due to complications after sustaining a fall and a subsequent hip fracture last week.
Salgado was the last living original member of “Las Alegres Ambulancias,” which had been performing live for over 21 years. The group played a number of songs that were used in funerals and other traditional death-related ceremonies, one of the reasons why her home town, San Basilio de Palenque, played her music non-stop until her coffin delivered Salgado from Cartagena.
San Basilio de Palenque was designated by the UN in 2005 as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, and the village is known for allegedly being the first town in the Americas to have freed slaves from Africa.
- San Basilio de Palenque despidió a la cantaora Graciela Salgado (El Mundo)
- Muere en Cartagena la cantadora Graciela Salgado (El Universal)
- La Alcaldía a través del IPCC lamenta la muerte de Graciela Salgado (El Universal)