“Viva Palenque y viva Pambelé!” Exploring afro-colombian roots, the diverse regions of cumbia, and the great rivers and swamps of Colombia with Carlos Vives

Carlos Vives is a Grammy winning singer, actor, philanthropist, father and trailblazer that has solidified his place as one of Latin music’s biggest names by magnifying his country’s cultural heritage through his music and opening doors for the future generation of aspiring Colombian artists. Carlos recently won the Latin Grammy awards for Best Long Form Video, Best Contemporary/Tropical Fusion album, and Best Tropical Song!

His recent album ‘Cumbiana’ takes the history of cumbia to the modern era. With this album, Carlos explores his afro-colombian roots and returns to one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet: the region of cumbia and of the great rivers and swamps of Colombia. He discovers the amphibian origin of the most popular musical patterns in Colombia, such as vallenatos, cumbias and porros, those that left the world since immemorial time and returned in a more modern style, showing the power of diversity.

A little background on Carlos; at age 12, his family moved to Bogota where he first encountered rock n roll and took part in the local scene as a lead vocalist and guitarist in several garage bands. While studying at university, Carlos became interested in acting and in 1982 won a role in the Colombian films Tiempo Sin Huella and a Spanish-language remake of David Copperfield. Later, he extended his work to Puerto Rican television and more than a dozen films.

He is the founder of “Tras la Perla,” (Behind the Pearl) which is an initiative to improve people’s quality of life in his hometown of Santa Marta with educational and environmental programs. He is also the founder of the Rio Grande music school in Bogotá where children develop their artistic skills.

He released his documentary “El Mundo Perdido de Cumbiana,” which premiered on The Grammy Museum’s Digital Channel. It spotlights the history of the amphibian universe to better understand the origins of cumbia and vallenato music, as well as the ancestral spirits that inspired his latest album. It also shows the environmental challenges the Magdalena River ecosystem is facing. He stated: “(the documentary) was able to tell the story of a culture whose descendants still inhabit the territory and who are at the origin of who we are and who have been lost in our memory.”

Carlos has won numerous Latin Grammy’s and has been nominated more than 30 times. During this year’s Billboard Latin Music Conference, Carlos and Gustavo Dudamel will be participating in a virtual Q&A panel titled “From Local Inspiration to International Stage,” where the two will discuss the power of music, their approach to music education, and the arts as a global agent of change for a better world.

Carlos Vives: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

Accompanying information provided by Alena Joyiens.

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