“People like cumbia, power bothers cumbia, because cumbia has power.” This is how the group La Tusa sings in the song El poder de la cumbia, which celebrates the scope that this genre has given them to talk about social issues.
The group was initially formed in 2013 in Santiago de Chile, where the majority are originally from, but it was until 2016 when they were officially formed under the line-up they currently have.
Having grown up in a turbulent socio-political climate, where they have suffered repression from the government and the Police, and demonstrations in favor of freedom of expression have been severely attacked, prompted them to use tropical music, especially cumbia, to provide to people a message of hope.
“We have been studying the history of this rhythm a bit, which travels from Africa to Latin America. In original tribal terms, the rhythm is like a desperate song that comes from the enslaved people, and today it appears as a new platform through which people have reached that same connection ”, shared César Torres, leader of the group, in an interview with The Sun of Mexico.
However, his work has not gone unnoticed by those media and authorities who do not want to keep these issues in the public conversation. Throughout their almost ten-year career, they have faced censorship in some radio stations in their country, who have chosen to remove their songs from their programming, and have even had problems being on stage.
“I imagine that within their editorial line they do not consider that there are songs in a tropical rhythm that dedicate lyrics to issues of social struggle, as we do. Also several times they have taken us down from the stage by the police force, and other times they have tried but they have not been able, ”added César.
Topics such as El circo del congreso and It seems that they are shitting us are some of those that have caused discomfort in their country, but at the same time they have opened the doors in other Latin American countries, and even in Spain, with which they have reaffirmed their commitment to continue singing on social issues.
Johnny Alarcón, vocalist of the group, thanked the impulse that social networks have given them, as he assures that they came as a lifeline for artists who make protest music.
“We have already reached 70 thousand views, we started with our YouTube channel a year ago, and with the production of the second album that we are working on, we got that amount of views. On the other hand, Facebook and Instagram allow us to communicate directly and talk with our followers ”, he explains.
As part of the monthly releases they plan for this year, on Friday, April 30, they present a cover of the song A Birthright by Natalia Lafourcade, which they heard for the first time in 2018, and immediately felt the connection with the lyrics.
The musicians detail that the repressions they suffer in Chile by the government, coupled with the growing violence towards indigenous communities, led them to resume this “song of hope”, as they themselves describe it.
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“The issue covers the whole of Latin America, which is why we are living in these moments, and more so now in a pandemic, that the violence is noticeable much more and with greater force,” said Johnny.
With great pride, they spoke that Natalia was very flattered by her decision to reverse her composition, and they hope that her work will allow the message to resonate with new audiences, both in her country and in Mexico.