Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Godfather of Afro-Peruvian Music and Dance


Don Amador Ballumbrosio Mosquera

While planning my first trip to Perú back in October 2005, I was reading Moons Handbook Perú (a travel guide) where I found the information I was looking for; how to connect with Peru's Black community of El Carmen in the Province of Chincha. This is where I learned about the Godfather of Afro-Peruvian music and dance, Amador Ballumbrosio, a popular, well-known violinist and dancer. 


This CD, The Soul of Black Perú, inspired my trip to Perú
and wanting to connect with Perú's Black Community.

The passion of Black Peruvian music rests in the Ballumbrosio's comfortably cramped home where he and his wife Adelina raised more than 12 children. Many of their children are now musicians and dancers themselves; taking after their father in Peru’s black heartland, which gained international notoriety with the 1990s world music breakthrough of the Afro-Peruvian sound. There is no violin that animates the counterpoint of Afro-Peruvian tap dancing known as zapateo as that of Don Amador who is affectionately known as ”Champita.”  



Adelina Ballumbrosio, widow of Amador on her birthday.

To my very pleasant surprise, the travel book even published the address and phone number of the Ballumbrosio home. My motive for traveling to Perú in the first place was my love for a relatively new genre of music brought to my attention--Afro-Peruvian music. This was several years after I was introduced to the CD The Soul of Black Perú.

Some of the members of the Ballumbrosio family. I'm standing in the back (middle)

I picked up the phone and dialed the number listed in the travel guide because I wanted to be immersed in the language and culture. Amador's daughter Maribel picked up and I asked to speak with Amador, not knowing that he was wheelchair-bound and in bed getting his rest. Maribel spoke on his behalf as her demeanor was that of a long lost relative inviting me home. As we exchanged e-mails, she also gave me directions to her family's home.

Don Amador 

When I arrived at the Ballumbtosio home, I understood why Don Amador could not come to the phone. He was not only wheel-chair bound suffering from paralysis, but could barely speak as his committed and loving wife was taking care of him. We often shook hands and had dinner together along with the rest of the family, obviously, there was not much in terms of conversation. Just as everyone else who visits the Ballumbrosio home, I was made to feel like a very special guests. I was always invited to parties and social affairs in the community. However, I may be one of the few who felt such a strong attachment that I returned almost annually. Unfortunately, that was the last I saw of Amador. It was another four years, November 2009, when I returned to the Ballumbrosio home in El Carmen again, and I learned of his passing in June 2009 through his sons who became my Facebook friends. That's when I immediately wired some money to his widow Adelina as they made me feel like a part of the family.

Don Amador's performance

If you are interested visiting this humble community of El Carmen, please contact me by e-mail and I will give you the details and the contact person. They charge $10.00 per day for a modest room, breakfast, and dinner. English is not spoken here.