Latin Roots: Cuban Rumba | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : World Cafe

Latin Roots: Cuban Rumba

Play associated audio

Chicago-based journalist Catalina Maria Johnson hosts the 15th installment of World Cafe's Latin Roots music series. Johnson writes in Spanish and English for publications such as HOY, Revista Contratiempo, Gozamos and Nat Geo Music, and is a radio personality and host/producer for the radio program Beat Latino, which airs in Chicago, Mexico City and Berlin.

"Rumba is one of those very interesting words," Johnson says. "All over Latin America in several countries, it means 'party.' So you go to 'rumba,' you're going to party. But then there are all kinds of music genres that have that name."

Johnson says there's flamenco rumba from Spain, Catalan rumba that originates in Spain and France, Congolese rumba from Africa, and Cuban rumba, which features singing rooted in flamenco.

In the late 19th century, rumba started to emerge in the port city of Matanzas, an hour east of Havana in Cuba. Rumba is more than just a style of music — it's a unique cultural blend of rhythm, dance and poetry.

Cuban rumba begins with a chant upon which different elements are added. It's an important part of Afro-Cuban culture, and in its earliest forms served as a form of personal entertainment — the style was played in back yards or on the streets with family and friends — as well as an outlet for protest.

The music is held together by a clave beat, and melds Congolese drumming with traditional call-and-response in either flamenco or Moorish styles. Cuban rumba laid the foundation for many other distinct styles of Latin music, and even informs modern Latin hip-hop and salsa.

Listen to Catalina Maria Johnson's essential Cuban rumba playlist on Spotify.

This segment originally aired on July 26, 2012.

Copyright 2012 WXPN-FM. To see more, visit http://www.xpn.org/.

NPR

'Little House,' Big Demand: Never Underestimate Laura Ingalls Wilder

Wilder's memoir reveals that she witnessed more violence than you'd ever know from her children's books. The South Dakota State Historical Society can barely keep up with demand for the autobiography.
NPR

Coffee Horror: Parody Pokes At Environmental Absurdity Of K-Cups

The market for single-serving coffee pods is dominated by Keurig's K-Cups. But they aren't recyclable, and critics say that's making a monster of an environmental mess. Meet the K-Cup Godzilla.
WAMU 88.5

Maryland's Biggest Campaign Donors Didn't Get Results In 2014

A lot of dollars from big donors went toward Democrat Anthony Brown's loss in the gubernatorial election.

WAMU 88.5

Concerns About Digital Snooping Spur Bipartisan Legislative Push In Va.

Former state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and the ACLU are supporting legislation that would limit the ability of law-enforcement and regulatory agencies to collect information and build databases without a warrant.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.