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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Soulful Cali (Colombia)

 Cali, Colombia—the salsa music capital of the world

While on the way home, I was listening to a popular song by the salsa music icon from Venezuela, Oscar De Leon, entitled “Cali.” For you hip-hop fans, he was not singing about California, LOL! He was singing about Cali, Colombia, the salsa music capital of the world, and how he and others are heading there to party.

I thought how sorry I was that I didn't listen to my supervisor at work who happens to be Colombian when he advised me to visit Cali because he knows that I am a salsa music lover. I was clueless in those days and thought that Cali didn't have enough black folks. Thus, I didn't I did not take his advice.

After making a choice between Colombian cities that I knew have a strong black presence, I chose Cartagena, the hometown of one of my favorite boxers, the former middleweight champion Rodrigo Valdez. From there, I visited an African village about two hours south of Cartagena called San Basillo de Palenque. A town that won its freedom from Spanish rule over 200 years before the rest of South America. 

Next time, as the song goes by Oscar De Leon, “yo me voy pa' Cali” (I'm going to Cali),  a city I later learned is the Afro-Colombian capital. Yeah, I heard that Caleños (i.e. people of Cali,) live and breath salsa. A Colombian contact says to me, “imagine the whole city dancing on the streets to free concerts from major salsa groups.”

My favorite salsa groups from Colombia are all based in Cali; Grupo Niche, Grupo Caneo, and Sonora Carruseles.

Afro Venezuelan salsa star Oscar De Leon 
sings his big hit “Cali”