Martes de Música: Marisol

On today’s Martes de Música, we visit a powerhouse cumbia voice belonging to the one, the only, Marisol. It is quite simple to recognize a Marisol song, one because she screams her name, but also because she has a very distinctive, powerful voice, that you can’t help but take notice of.

Marisol is quite popular, and regularly travels across the country belting out cumbia, and the occasional Huayno classic. In fact, at the beginning of June she was hired by Caraz’s largest school, Micelino Sandoval Torres, to perform during their anniversary celebration.

On a side note, anniversaries are very important here in Perú. While in the States, we usually only seem to celebrate the “important” anniversary years such as the ones ending in 0s and 5s (25th, 30th, 50th, etc.), in Perú, anniversaries are celebrated EVERY year. And anniversary celebrations are not a 1 day affair, oh no. Anniversary celebrations, especially for schools, tend to consist of a week long schedule of activities including sports tournaments, food fairs, several parades, masses and religious ceremonies, nice lunches, and of course, a final, big, all-out party (if they can afford it). While anniversaries are extremely fun, they do tend to disrupt classes, which isn’t so fun. Fortunately I have had the opportunity to witness and participate in several anniversary events here in Perú, and I can imagine I will be witness to several more before my service comes to an end a year from now.

Given the fact that I am a big cumbia fan and also work on environmental issues in the school, I of course attended the concert, which happened to be the day before my birthday. She blew the roof off the place, and even wished me a happy birthday thanks to the sneaky intervention of my friends. Well, I guess she didn’t exactly wish me a happy birthday since she said, “Felíz Cumpleaños al gringo que tiene un corazón caracino” (Happy Birthday to the gringo with a Caraz heart). Either way, it goes without saying that Marisol and her orquesta gave me a good start to my birthday.

Today’s song is essentially a break-up song. In it, Marisol sings about how she misses her love, how even seeing a photo of them together makes her cry, how listening to their songs pushes her to drinking; she wants to move on, but her heart won’t let her forget. If you can’t tell, it is a tad melodramatic, but such is the story of many Cumbia songs here in Perú.

So without further ado, here is Marisol singing Gitana, for your listening pleasure.

Hope you enjoyed the music and be sure to look out for 2 more posts this week since I missed out on my Foto Friday from the last.

Until next time,

MGB

Advertisements

Martes de Música: Reggaetón

So the musical genre Reggaetón is not a Peruvian innovation. In fact, when I asked my host uncle if there were any famous Peruvian Reggaetón songs, he simply said, “jaja no”. So if this blog is supposed to be about Perú, why am I talking about Reggaetón, you might ask?

Well, while Reggaetón did not come from Perú, it certainly came into Perú, and is currently one of the most popular musical genres among Peru’s jóvenes (young people). This past Friday, my local school held an event for Teacher Day, and I somehow got put in charge of the music (probably because I had my laptop). While I tried to get everyone interested in the english pop songs on my playlist or the few cumbia songs I had downloaded, within a short span of time I had about 15 different students come ask me to put on some Reggaetón.

So, what exactly is Reggaetón? Well, it is a genre that emerged from the fusion of Jamaican reggae music with pop music, first manifesting in Panamá and then hitting the mainstream and gaining popularity from further innovations in Puerto Rico. I would guess that most people are probably aware of the connection between Reggaetón and Puerto Rico, at least peripherally. Anyways, most Reggaetón music can be recognized by its killer beats, pulsing electronic sounds, and Spanish lyrics, which are generally rapped as opposed to being sung. Additionally, there is a sort of repetition to most Reggaetón songs, whether in beat or lyrics, which makes them great for dancing and quick to learn for those who want to sing along. If you were to hop into a nightclub anywhere in Perú, and possibly anywhere in Latin America, you would probably encounter several Reggaetón songs throughout the night.

So, to introduce you all to the world of Reggaetón, we have Ginza by J. Balvin which is the quintessential Reggaetón song of 2016. Seriously, absolutely ALL the jóvenes are listening to this song.

Hope you enjoyed the music!

Until next time,

MGB

Martes de Música: Rock Peruano

This week, I am once again late because this past Tuesday I was away all day visiting a school in another district of my province. Considering this trend, I might have to eventually change the name of this series to Miércoles de Música.

While most of the music I’ve been promoting so far has been traditional music, influenced by the diverse culture of Perú, this week we are highlighting a different musical genre of which I am sure many of you are quite familiar: rock music.

Rock music is very popular in many parts of Perú, and in fact when I arrived to live with my first host family in Lima, they were enormous fans of many famous rock groups like the Rolling Stones or AC/DC. So, it is only natural that a few rock groups eventually emerged in Perú to develop Perú’s very own rock music heritage.

Today, per recommendation of my host uncle, I am highlighting the Peruvian rock group, Mar de Copas, which formed in Lima back in 1992. They have released a few albums throughout the years, but today I am highlighting one of their earlier songs, Mujer de Noche (Night Woman, or Woman of the Night), at my host-uncle’s request. It’s quite catchy, and reminds me of another rock song in English, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

So without further ado, Mujer de Noche by Mar de Copas.

I hope you enjoyed the music.

Until next time,

MGB

Martes de Música: Huayno Ancashino

Once again, my Martes de Música comes a tad late, but internet isn’t always available, and so you do the best that you can.

This week we return to the world of Huayno, a type of Peruvian folk music from the Andes. The singer and song featured this week are fairly representative of Huaynos Ancashinos, or Huaynos from Áncash, the department where I work. While many younger people enjoy Cumbia and Reggaeton, most of the older population, especially in more rural areas, are fans of Huayno all the time. There are many radio stations that play puro huayno (only Huayno), and it is extremely common to hear Huayno on everyone’s radios as I walk around my community.

This style of music is also quite popular at town fiestas (parties), where everyone will dance Huayno along with the music. Dancing to Huaynos generally means casually stomping your feet while moving back and forth, never looking your dance partner in the eye, and then stomping more vigorously when the music gets more jovial, about 2/3 of the way through.

So for this week, enjoy a traditional Andean Huayno.

I must say, while at first I was not a fan of Huayno, the style quickly grew on me (and many other Volunteers).

I hope you enjoyed the music.

Until next time,

MGB

Martes de Música: No Te Vayas

This week’s Martes de Música, or rather Miércoles de Música since I’m a bit late, goes out to the Cumbia group, Grupo Ráfaga, which is actually from Argentina, and not Perú. The group found its start way back in 1994, and has been going quite strong, having produced over 14 different albums throughout the years.

However, despite having originated in another country, the group and their songs are quite popular here in Perú; you would be hard pressed to attend any cumbia concert here in Perú and NOT hear one of their popular songs, such as No Te Vayas or their recent hit, Una Cerveza (this will be shared for another time).

Today, I am spotlighting No Te Vayas (Don’t Go or Don’t Leave Me), again one of my favorites here in Perú and a staple of many “copy groups” or other Cumbia groups here in Perú. This song is essentially about love and heartbreak; a man telling his girlfriend not to leave him because she is “who fills him with passion, is his light, and his whole world”. Check out the lyrics here, and feel free to give them a good old Google translate.

Without further ado, No Te Vayas by Grupo Ráfaga!

Hope you enjoyed the music!

Until next time,

MGB

Martes de Música: Corazón Serrano

For today’s installment of Martes de Música, we return to the genre of Cumbia. This time, we will hear a song from one of Perú’s most popular Cumbia groups, Corazón Serrano, which means Sierra Heart or Heart of the Sierras.

The group originally formed in 1993 in Piura, a departamento (state) along the northern coast of Perú near the border with Ecuador. For the first 15 years, the group focused their concerts, image, and music around the northern coast of Perú. But around 2010, with the introduction of some new singers to the group, they became a “mainstream” hit in Perú, and quickly grew to widespread acclaim across the whole country.

Like most cumbia, the songs of Corazón Serrano are quite catchy, have a happy beat, and revolve around themes of love and alcohol. While most cumbia music sounds very similar, there is one easy way to recognize a Corazón Serrano song: a high pitched musical shoutout of the name, Corazón Serrano.

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a Corazón Serrano concert in Huaráz with two other Peace Corps Volunteers, where we had a great time singing along to our favorites such as the song I present today. For our first introduction into Corazón Serrano, I present to you all one of their classics “¿Cómo Pude Enamorarme?” (How Could I Fall in Love?). The song is essentially about a woman struggling with heartbreak after her boyfriend left her for another woman.

Enjoy!

Until next time,

MGB

Martes de Música: James Morrison

So after reading the title of this blog post, you might be thinking to yourself, “James Morrison? That doesn’t sound like a Peruvian name. What is Mark up to?”. Well, you would be correct, James Morrison is NOT Peruvian, although I cannot guarantee that there isn’t a Peruvian out there with the name James Morrison.

This week I am breaking tradition a bit, and instead of highlighting another song from Perú, I’ve decided to highlight an artist who has been very important to my Peace Corps experience.

Peace Corps is challenging. You find yourself committed to work in a foreign country for 2 years, a foreign country where you may or may not be familiar with the local language, where you probably won’t understand many of the local customs, where you will probably be stripped of your comfort zone, exposed, and forced to develop new strategies to cope with all of the new changes and challenges facing your life. A foreign country where you can’t just call your family whenever you feel like it to get advice, or call a friend to wish them a happy birthday, or even celebrate your own birthday with the people you care about from back in the U.S. A foreign county where the local food might put you out of commission for several days, where your host-family doesn’t understand that you sometimes just need time to be alone, even when you are sick, where your host country counterparts might forget about important meetings and activities that have been scheduled for a week. Peace Corps can be challenging.

Over the last 13 months here in Perú, I have had my fair share of ups and downs as I touched upon in my piece about hitting the 1 year mark here in Perú. However, one consistent factor which has guided me through both the good and the bad here in Perú has been music. Here in Perú, even more so than back in the U.S., I have turned to music to fjord the rough waters of service, and to release my emotional tensions and frustrations. I am proud to say I have enjoyed numerous solo jam sessions in my room, rocking out to Adele, George Ezra, Corazon Serrano, and of course, James Morrison, among others..

James Morrison hit the music scene back in 2005 with his debut album, Undiscovered, which touts one of my favorite songs, The Pieces Don’t Fit Anymore. Since then, he has released 3 further albums, each of which continues to feature his incredibly gritty, soul-filled, R&B sounds. His music is powerful, personal, and meaningful, and never fails to relax me and catalyze the processing of my pent up emotions and stresses, accumulated from my day to day activities as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

A few weeks ago I discovered that he had finally released a new album, and my joy effervesced. I immediately purchased the album, and subsequently listened to it about 10 different times. Once again, he hasn’t disappointed me, and his latest album was quickly added to my favorite playlist.

So, while this series will normally be focused on Peruvian music and sounds (which it will return to for next week’s installment), this week I felt obligated to highlight one of my absolute favorite artists who has helped me all throughout my Peace Corps experience thus far. I hope that all of you can appreciate his music as much as I have. James Morrison, some days I owe my calm and sanity to your music.

So, here is the titular song from his latest album, Higher Than Here, which I hope you will all enjoy as much as I do.

Other PCVs, what music or artists help you get through your service?

Until next time,

MGB