Sometime in the year 2000 in my former life as a suburbanite far removed from Chicago’s cultural scene I walked into the former Borders bookstore in Oak Park and as I was purchasing a book I noticed in the checkout counter a Putamayo CD on display titled “Latinas”. I bought it and it instantly became my favorite. In this CD the performers were none that I recognized, but through the years of owning the CD one of them became the voice of who I am now. It turns out that that performer was none other than Toto la Momposina a woman that will become a personal tradition in my life as much as La Lupe, Celia Cruz, Graciela and others. Toto represented an area of Colombia that with the passage of time will become my second Patria. Tonight 17 years after that encounter in Borders I was face to face with the Caribbean Diva. As I heard her sing “Yo me llamo cumbia” in her unmistaken voice that at her age feels like a good wine, I was overcome by an emotion that only comes from loving Colombia as my own country.
Her performance was impeccable and she not only embodied her very regional musical genre she also personified the whole Caribbean in several of her titles. Her band was extremely polished and they had the command of a Cuban style that evoked a bygone era. I particularly enjoyed her porro numbers like “Los sabores del Porro” which evokes the memories of listening to Porro on the porch with my late father in law.
You can further enjoy the experience by viewing the images: https://charliebillupsphotographer.pixieset.com/totolamomposinamilleniumparkjaypritzkerpavillion/
You can also see her at the 2017 Colombian Fest in Chicago for more info click here: http://colombianfestchicago.com/