I am from Chorrillos, in the Southern part of Lima, which has changed a lot over the years, but when I grew up there where a lot of stables, farms and fisherman, fixing their nets, and a beach where rich people came to pass their vacations. I began to get interested there in Chorillos. On Sundays, Black families got together on their only day off and they would cook food and play music. People worked as laborers, doing wash, domestics, cooks etc and on Sundays they would come together as families to eat and to play the music they heard on the radio, Cuban music, Cumbias, Mexican songs, Tangos. I would be playing with the other kids but when they would start playing music I would leave the kids to join the adults.
There was Cuban music, boleros. Tangos, but there was little Peruvian music on the radio and people reached back to remember Danzas, Waltzes and other styles. This when I heard Celia Cruz play Palo Mayimbe, it felt like something very much ours, even though it was Cuban. This is how I feel about this record, it is our celebration of the African presence in the Americas and the way it has become a part of Latin America.
The culture, music, and our whole selves are all about the mixture of Spanish Indian and African cultures. The Spaniards that came to Peru encountered a very strong civilization even here in Lima that was the center of the Spanish influence. There was a strong Incan influence and the Africans that first came along with the conquistadors and then later as slaves brought to Cartagena, Columbia and then to the Peruvian Coast along with the other slaves on sugar and cotton plantations and they were property of the Spaniards and declared property of the church, Dominicans and Jesuits.
This record is a celebration of the African presence in the Americas, the experience of people that underwent this journey, where only the strong survived.
I feel the music of Cuba, Columbia, Ecuador, Argentina and Puerto Rico as if it were mine. It is my essence, like the drummers of Guatire from Venezuela. I feel like they are talking to my soul, even though I am not Venezuelan I feel a part of this.
I have traveled to many places where Afro Descendents live in Latin America, many of them poor and forgotten places, neglected and excluded by governments where there is a social exclusion but at the same time I feel that they have a spiritual strength to express the African presence. So I try to sing songs from these places, even though I left out a lot. I celebrate the shared blood and the way that the African presence has influenced Latin America.