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November 1, 2020 80 min

Manuel Garcia Orozco is a GRAMMY® and Latin GRAMMY®-award winner who has dedicated his career to producing musical documents that preserve cultures in resistance under his label Chaco World Music. As a composer/performer, he has been featured in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Cannes Film Festival, Lincoln Center, Blue Note, and major TV networks such as Sony Entertainment and MTV. He is the author of two books and a digital educational platform for Afro-Colombian music. He has been granted various international awards by The Recording Academy, Latin GRAMMY® Foundation, ASCAP, and The Colombian Ministry of Culture. Currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology at Columbia University, and he holds Masters degrees from Columbia GSAS and NYU Steinhardt.

Bullerengue is an Afro-Colombian musical tradition, led and preserved by elderly women in Maroon communities across the Colombian Caribbean, a historically marginalized region. In the absence of official documents, bullerengue song itself serves as a historical vehicle for cantadoras (elderly traditional singers) who died in oblivion. Bullerengue song states biographical, local, and cultural information bearing the stamp of an Afro-descendant feminine sensibility; its performance at once encourages communal solidarity, asserts the forms of cantadoral matriarchy, and challenges the patriarchal hegemony of the nation-state. Through studying the intrinsic poetics of “El Cangrejito” as preserved and performed by bullerengue icon Petrona Martinez (b. 1939), Manuel’s paper explores how, in the midst of extreme marginalization, the cantadoras of the 1940s used their voices as a medium to express their own creativity, to poetically resist the oppressive social order, and to transmit their collective consciousness into the future. In other words, it was through song that cantadoras advocated for and left remnants of a type of matriarchy that is almost extinct today.

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