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Jun 26

Toto La Momposina: The Great Colombian Queen of Cumbia.

Toto la Momposina enjoying her Merengue


We’ve asked it before, but how exactly did Toto La Momposina not make it into the final 25 of the Great Colombian? We’d like to know what you feel about this – did she not deserve it? I haven’t heard Uribe sing, but I’m guessing he may not be quite as accomplished…

Well, before Sunday, this humble blogger may not have been too completely distraught about, but that’s before he experienced the mesmerising presence of the cantadora herself at a Bogota concert in La Candelaria’s Plaza Bolivar put on by the French, of all people. Merci.

Even though any song featuring this daughter of Mompos is enough to convince you of her impressive chops and traditional inventiveness, I reckon it’s only once you watch her walk on a stage and competely own it – along with the hearts of her audience – that you realise that when you’re listening to this woman’s voice, you’re listening to music royalty of the highest order. Her presence, her grace, and the intense, easy love she has for what she’s doing left the entire square – even the pigeons – in a delighted hip-swaying trance. It’s at about that point that I realised that her title, Queen of Cumbia, wasn’t bestowed lightly.



If she is, as I claim, royalty, she is palpably a Queen of the People. Although – due to her coming from a long line of traditional musicians and growing up immersed in it – nobody owns their music like Toto la Momposina does, she uses this gift to bring her crowds together, and to celebrate the rich, living tradition of intertwined African, Indigenous, and Spanish cultures that she – just like her Caribbean birthplace – is an enchanting manifestation of.

To watch her perform is to experience this rich, regal, Colombian, greatness for yourself. Have you been fortunate enough to be in the presence of real majesty?



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