Writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez once famously called his novel 100 Years of Solititude a “350-page vallenato.” Colombia’s storytelling country music was born in the valleys of the country’s farm country. Traveling troubadours brought the news in song to isolated towns and ranches in the early 1900s. From those wandering origins, vallenato went on to travel the world.
The music’s emblematic accordion sound accompanied romantic ballads, and was speeded up for dancing; it evolved to suit more modern, urban tastes. Most famously, Carlos Vives gave vallenato pop-star status, taking it to the charts and the Grammys. Artists have since used vallenato rhythms as the framework for their own fusions.