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Cumbia Colombiana from surprising sources

by Bernard O'Shea

A popular music genre in Colombia and other parts of South and Central America is cumbia. Funnily enough, my first introduction to it came from Sailor, an English pop band with a Norwegian-born singer and guitarist, Georg Kajanus. Although Sailor are best known for their mid-1970s hits A Glass of Champagne and Girls, Girls, Girls (great songs), they have always seemed to have an interest in Latin rhythms – for example, on songs such as Panama and Vera from Veracruz.

Here is Sailor’s take on cumbia, La Cumbia, one of their more popular songs from the period after they reunited in the late 1980s. It’s very catchy but the videoclip is showing its age.

The Spanish lyrics in La Cumbia

Cumbia. Para el deseo.  (For desire)
Para la pasion. (For Passion)
Para la pena del corazon. (For the pain of the heart/heartache)
Siempre contigo. (Always with you)
Siempre el amor. (Always love)
Para momentos de mas calor.  (For hotter moments).

Cumbia. Para todala noche. (For all night long)
Para mi obsesion. (For my obsession) 
Como latidos del corazon. (Like heartbeats)
Siempre contigo. (Always with you)
Siempre el amor. (Always love)
Para momentos de mas calor.  (For hotter moments).

The origins of cumbia

The website Sounds and Colours, which covers South American culture in depth, offers an interesting examination of the evolution of cumbia here.

That article sings the praises of Lucho Bermudez (1912-1994), so here is a medley of some of Lucho’s most popular compositions. Most probably you will recognise some of the tunes.

Modern cumbia, of course, takes advantage of the latest sound recording technology and its loud, boom boom beats are great for when you’re at a party with a drink in hand and feeling buoyant.

But it is also a classic dance form that doesn’t need blaring speakers and modern instruments, as the performance below illustrates. It’s by a troupe from Barranquilla, the city that hosts Colombia’s best know carnival.

Related reading on My Five Romances

You can read about other types of music and singers from the Spanish-speaking world here. M5R

Image at top of page by OpenClipart-Vectors on Pixabay

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