Carlos Vives continues educating his fans on cumbia music, joining the 2021 Midem Latin American Forum on Friday (March 12).
During the nearly 40-minute virtual event, moderated by Joel Moya, Remezcla’s director of artists and label relations, the Colombian artist opened up about his roots, the evolution of Latin and Colombian music, and the growing impact it has globally today, amongst other topics.
“We can create, from our music, our identity, from our things, something very original and new but attaching it to something very old,” Vives said, referring to his Latin Grammy-winning album Cumbiana. “Folklore for me is not something from the past but more like a living being that is mutating.”
Below, read more highlights from Midem’s “Artist talk with Carlos Vives.”
On being from Santa Marta, Colombia: “It’s a mix of culture and stories. We are educated under the bolero regime. Later, Mexican music also came to us very strongly. But since we are a banana plantation, we also received music from Europe, North America, the Caribbean coast. We are a mix of things. Latin American music, in general.”
On the origins of cumbia: “Cumbia is the Colombia tropic, it’s what we call Bajo Magdalena, although, in reality, it’s much more. Our rivers, especially the Magdalena, have these characteristics where we find the first origins of cumbia, which are of Chimilas origins, of cultures that we can say Andean but of the ‘flat land’ from the tropics, from the valleys of the great rivers at the foot of the great mountains, there’s cumbia. Cumbia had its origin and knowing the nature of that origin of everything that occurred, we understand why today it is or continues to be a power within urban music.”
On cumbia’s global impact: “I believe that cumbia stayed around the world because it has an American heart, a native heart, and the arrival of Europe and the African fusions, that gave cumbia a unique endemic sound in its origin. There’s something that connects us as Americans, from Alaska to Patagonia, that culture of ours that we carry in our brood from the Andean cultures, from the original cultures, from the first emigrations to this American continent, there’s something of that spirituality that’s in cumbia. That’s why it stays with people.”
On the new generation of artists: “We all have our talents, our virtues, our paths, but I think that cultivating, understanding the territory, understanding our continent, our relationship with Europe, our true identity will give us many tools, it always gives us tools for creativity. In the end, this is a job of surprising, this is a job of being creative, this is a game. The new generation can’t be afraid of culture. We need that story, that essence, to be creative.”