WRUR 88.5 Different Radio

Catalina Maria Johnson

The village of El Clavo lies just an hour bus-ride from the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, practically hidden in the lushness of the jungle. Centuries ago, the settlement was founded by rebel Africans who set up secret free communities deep in the brush of the region.

Several years ago, Julián Salazar — at the time guitar player for internationally-renowned band Bomba Estereo — spent some time on the Pacific coast of Columbia, an experience that motivated him to capture the lush, entrancing sonic landscapes of the jungle in his compositions.

About eight years ago, in a small club in Copenhagen, a then-unknown band named Bomba Estéreo grabbed us by the musical jugular. Singer Liliana Saumet strode across the stage as the group wrapped her incendiary vocals in a startlingly fresh mix of Colombian roots, propelled by a punk-psychedelic sensibility.

These days, Bomba Estéreo occupies a privileged space in the Latinx musical universe — it composed one of the most iconic anthems of Latinx identity, "Soy Yo." (Its video now has over 23 million views.)

If you've ever wondered what the soundtrack to a film set in Detroit, Havana and Mexico City might sound like, Jessica Hernandez has an answer for you. With a dusky-to-piercing voice and Amy Winehouse's way of hang-gliding on phrases, Hernandez — along with her band, The Deltas — has been a powerhouse act on the Detroit scene for some time.

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