SUSANA BACA AT PIONEER WORKS, BROOKLYN
“Our greatest challenge is to find the one true rhythm of freedom—something like the wind that allows a bird to fly, or a new language more powerful than speech, which holds you.” Susana Baca
The Afro-Peruvian singer-songwriter Susana Baca made a rare appearance at PIONEER WORKS, a sprawling arts and exhibition space in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
She has come a long way since her interpretation of “Maria Lando” appeared on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop compilation, THE SOUL OF BLACK PERU (1995), which launched her career and sparked a revival of Afro-Peruvian music that is ongoing.
On the political front, she is a former Minister of Culture and President of the Commission of Culture for the Organization of American States (2011-2013).
Dressed in a bright blue outfit and backed by a spectacular 4-piece group that included a guitar, violin, bass and Afro-Peruvian percussion, Baca was the spitting image of the Yoruba Orisha, Yemaya, Goddess of the sea and mother of all. She performed poetic songs (with lyrics composed by some of Latin America’s premier poets, with whom she collaborates) and traditional and modern songs whose themes revolve around work, love, struggle, sorrow, and Black pride.
Susana Baca’s shows have as much to do with basking in her presence as they do with her music. She is a Diva, a consummate show-woman who knows how to work a crowd, convey her message and present centuries of passionate tradition in a way that brings people together.
Nothing tops seeing Baca in a small, intimate setting but watching her convert a large, noisy crowd – many of who were first time listeners – and turn them into “believers” was a sight to behold.
Kudos to guitarist Ernesto Hermoza, violinist Maria Elena Pacheco, bassist Oscar Huaranga, percussionist Hugo Brava and invited guest violinist Ali Bello for their artistry.
What’s next for Susana Baca? Given her fascinating past only she can answer that. Whatever the future holds, let’s hope it won’t be long before she returns to our area and graces us with her presence.
Also, to the WORLD MUSIC INSTITUTE and PIONEER WORKS for making the event possible.