Susana Baca | Mayne Stage | International | Chicago Reader

Susana Baca All Ages Soundboard

When: Sat., Aug. 27, 7 & 9:30 p.m. 2011

Singer and activist Susana Baca has spent most of her career researching, preserving, and advocating for Afro-Peruvian culture, and her efforts have paid off. These days there's no shortage of international artists exploring its once-buried riches—from popular Peruvian singer Eva Ayllon to panglobal dance group Novalima. Her government has noticed, and new president Ollanta Humala named her Peru's Minister of Culture in late July, making her the country's first black government minister. On her terrific new album, Afrodiaspora (Luaka Bop), Baca takes a different approach than on previous recordings, drawing on her recent travels and academic studies to interpret songs of the African diaspora in the new world—not just Afro-Peruvian material but also tunes made famous by Cuban great Celia Cruz, the Meters/Neville Brothers classic "Hey Pocky Way," a piece by Mexican nuevo cancion singer Amparo Ochoa, and more. Eight of the eleven tracks feature guest musicians, who often color them with regional instruments—though the guests and the songs sometimes hail from entirely different regions (and despite the presence of Chicago blues harpist Billy Branch, there's no blues number on the album). Whether the music is from Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, or elsewhere, Baca's crack working band—bassist Oscar Huaranga, percussionist Hugo Bravo, and guitarist Ernesto Hermoza—give it an Afro-Peruvian foundation. They'll support her on this date, joined by violinist Maria Elena Pacheco. —Peter Margasak

Price: $30-$45

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