‘My mission has been accomplished’: how Susana Baca resurrected Afro-Peruvian music

Susana Baca has lived multiple lives in her 77 years. She is one of Peru’s most celebrated singers, and a champion of Afro-Peruvian music, amplified by a partnership with David Byrne’s Luaka Bop record label. She is trained as an ethnomusicologist and manages a cultural centre in Peru, and she was only the second Afro-Peruvian minister in the history of independent Peruvian government, serving as minister of culture in 2011.

“It was not an easy path to achieve all that I have,” Baca says, speaking over video call. She is draped in a black shawl, speaking via an interpreter, from her home in Cañete. “My parents used to play music all the time when I was a child – my earliest memories are of my father singing and my mother dancing – but when I decided that I wanted to be a singer, my mother was horrified. We were very poor and all the musicians she had heard of had died from tuberculosis. It was an extreme life.”

Read the interview in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 20/10/21]