Americas Award Winner
Palabras Urgentes on Real World Records
For five decades the queen of Peruvian singing has been performing protest songs in the name of South America’s marginalised peoples. International recognition came late (in her 50s) after her inclusion on the compilation Afro-Peruvian Classics: The Soul of Black Peru on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label, but she has since scooped up three Latin Grammy awards and in 2011 became her country’s minister of culture, the first person of African descent to occupy a Peruvian cabinet post.
At 77 years young, Baca’s voice has lost none of its dynamism and there is no diminution of the fire in her soul on her latest album, Palabras Urgentes (a Top of the World in the November 2021 issue, #172). She wrenches pure emotion out of songs that pay homage to South America’s female guerrilla fighters and trace Afro-Latin musical heritage through tango, milonga, cueca and landó. ‘Age casts a different light upon the world and this album seeks to express freely and honestly those things that I love most intensely,’ she writes in the album’s liner notes. The glory of her voice is perfectly framed by the sympathetic production of Snarky Puppy’s Michael League. “Susana is a pure artist,” he notes. “She sings with intention, she has a message and everyone who has met her and knows her work is in awe of her.”