Long before Susana Baca became one of international music’s essential stars, she ranked as one of the most important figures in the Afro-Peruvian revival. When Baca was a student in Chorrillos, in Lima, she began a lifelong journey as an ethnomusicologist, collecting and performing a vast repertoire of songs at the cultural crossroads of Africa, the Andes, and Spain. She takes “unique musical forms like the halting lando and lively festejo into the twenty-first century without diluting their essence,” declares the BBC. As she approaches the fifth decade of her career, Baca is renowned as much for her songs as for her graceful and commanding stage presence: surrounded by a band playing traditional Peruvian instruments, Baca dances barefoot as she sings.

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Updated January 17, 2019