|Cantadoras Juana María Angulo & Carlina Andrade, 2005.|
Photo: Michael Birenbaum Quintero
"A fundamental component in a marimba ensemble are the matronly female singers, called cantadoras. The cantadoras sing a repeated chorus in harmony as another cantadora sings the melody, improvising lyrics and borrowing others from other songs or from popular poetry, and making rhythmic variations and melodic adornments such as an occasional falsetto yodel. As they sing, the cantadoras rhythmically shake a bamboo tube with nails or wooden spikes driven through it, and seeds inside, called guasá." Source
Juana María Angulo (cantadora) was born in Guapi in 1931. Her parents had always taken Juana and her brother along to the arrullos. Juana recalls that one day her mother was singing at home, and young Juana sang back a traditional response. “‘Uy,’ my mother said, ‘You answered really well. You’re going to be a cantadora!’” Juana began singing in earnest at arrullos around Guapi. In Buenaventura in the mid-1970s, she joined the folkloric group Pascual de Andagoya, in which she sang alongside her friends, fellow cantadoras Ana Hernández and Carlina Andrade. In Ana’s words, they have been “making noise and laughing together” for more than thirty years. This group toured extensively and made some of the earliest recordings of the music of the Pacific coast.
After the dissolution of the group, the cantadoras joined Grupo Alfonso López Pumarejo, but the cantadoras and musicians eventually formed their own group, Los Mareños (The Sea People). The name was inspired by a song about the daily arrival in Guapi of fishermen at four in the afternoon, coming in from the ocean to sell the fish they had caught that day. In 1985, Ana, Juana, and Carlina were invited to Europe, where they toured extensively, singing unaccompanied. In the late 1980s, when some of the group’s members migrated to Cali, the group was reformed around that city’s Universidad Libre, and Juana, Ana, and Carlina continued to sing with the group, now joined by Gladys. At about this time, Juana, Ana, and Carlina recorded a night of traditional stories, jokes, and recitations and improvisations of rhymed poetry. Relatos de mar y selva (Tales of Sea and Forest), a book transcribing that evening, garnered the three cantadoras the Prize for Black Oral Literature from Colcultura, the Colombian state cultural institution. In 2000, Maky López approached Ana, Juana, Carlina, and Gladys to form Grupo Naidy for the Petronio Álvarez Festival. Juana remembers that she was trembling during Grupo Naidy’s performance, thinking how embarrassing it would be to lose. They won, and went on to record and tour internationally.
Print version ISSN 0121-7550
TRIANA, Gloria. Totó la momposina: Our transhumant singer. Nómadas[online]. 2008, n.28, pp. 164-179. ISSN 0121-7550.
This text walks through the vital and creative paths of one of the greatest cantadoras of the Colombian popular music. The singer tell us how her family played a decisive role in her process of becoming an artist; how the study and fandango meetings in the backyard of her house made her sensitive to singing and dancing; and how the knowledge of singing and rhythms that she learned from other women who were also cantadoras, and who came from towns by the shore of the river Magdalena, was a definitive point to the processes of recuperation and artistic creation.
Keywords : Totó la Momposina; popular music; cantadoras; Colombia; musical creation.
12 Days in May