Latin Grammy award for Petrona Martínez´s ANCESTRAS.
(Best Folk Album, 2021)
The album features Angelique Kidjo, Susana Baca, Aymée Nuviola, Flor de Toloache, among 14 women of African descent.
"An awe-inspiring drum circle stretching far beyond Colombia’s Caribbean coast to include women singers, musicians, visual artists, and sound engineers from across the African diaspora (...) A living document of the generational wisdom of women, particularly Black women, and an effusive invitation for more to join the circle."
The 82-year-old matriarch and bandleader Petrona Martinez received the news from her great-grandchildren. The family celebrated to the beats of bullerengue, an ancestral tradition led by Afrodescendant elderly women in Caribbean Colombia. Ancestras marks Martinez’s first win and third Latin Grammy nomination for Best Folk Album. It features collaborations with 14 African diaspora women—including Angelique Kidjo, Susana Baca, and Aymée Nuviola. As such, the Afro-Colombian legend puts the bullerengue tradition in dialogue with different genres (afrobeat, jazz, mariachi, rumba, timba, Dominican salve, etc.), and tongues of the global south (Fon, Garífuna, Palenquero, Wayu, Bahian Portuguese, etc.)
Petrona Martinez built her international reputation by breaking boundaries. Against all odds, the matriarch went from a simple life in her rural surroundings to traveling the world and gaining three Latin-Grammy nominations while projecting the legacies of her ancestresses. "It's nice that after the colors I gave my songs, [they bring] other colors [that] make them roll forward," Petrona Martinez stated. For the bandleader, bullerengue is a site that preserves her ancestresses' legacies of love and resistance. Through intercultural dialogues, Ancestras raise awareness of the female voices' significance in different traditions where music and poetry are essential to exercise and exemplify the leading role of women in humanity. As the producer, García-Orozco asserts in the 40-page booklet, "Ancestras privileges the voice, ear, and oralities as a politics of expression, preservation, and dissemination of thought for the octogenarian matriarch and other women."
Ancestras is a byproduct of Petrona Martinez’s extensive international career. For instance, Martinez and Susana Baca met in Barcelona around 1999. Later, they were nominated for the same Latin Grammy Award in 2002, and now they published a duet together with an outstanding stop-motion animated video, “El Niño Roncón.” “My respect for Ms. Petrona Martinez is infinite,” affirms Susana Baca, one of the most iconic voices in Latin America and the first Afro-descendant woman to occupy a ministry in Peru. Martinez and Baca share a common conscience as identity icons of their respective countries after gaining accolades and political recognition for their Afrodiasporic cultural heritages in international spheres. Moreover, they both were able to publicly question and overcome the historical discriminations based on race and gender in the Americas and Europe.
Ancestras was produced between Bogotá, the Caribbean, and New York by Grammy-nominee Manuel García-Orozco, and co-produced by Mayte Montero. Like previous Chaco World Music releases, Ancestras assumes a documentary character and includes academic writings, visual works, and an interactive packaging which complement Martinez’s compositions and oral testimonies. The album is the product of an interdisciplinary team made up mostly of women. The team includes visual artists (Lido Pimienta, Isaura Angulo, Ledania, Karen Flórez), sound engineers (María Elisa Ayerbe, Soular, María Triana), Afrofeminist-writers (Ochy Curiel, Mónica Carrillo, Natalia Santiesteban), and designers Cactus Taller Gráfico.
Petrona Martinez and Susana Baca present “El Niño Roncón,”
an animated video with lots of wool and ancestral nuances.
The stop-motion animation piece was produced in New York by Chaco World Music and directed by Esteban García Vernaza. Its staging stands out for a contemplative, expressionist, and anachronistic style, elevating Petrona Martinez’s oral memories and symbolizing two crucial points in her voice development. First, when Martinez composed her first song after seeing two piglets running around. The second was a meeting with her ancestress Nemecita Cañates, who transmitted her oral memories before she passed away at 102.
Ancestras constitutes Martinez’s latest recordings, as health issues keep her away from the stage. However, Petrona Martinez -the group- performed Ancestras virtually during the Afro-Latino Festival in New York last summer and last November at Cartagena’s Theater. The heiress Joselina Llerena Martinez assumes the lead vocals, sometimes joined by Susana Baca, Enerolisa Nunez, and other guests.
On July 25th, 2021, Petrona Martinez received the Great Order of the Colombian Ministry of Culture in recognition of her career as a composer and guard of ancestral knowledge.
ANCESTRAS is available on digital platforms and as CD through CD Baby. The research will also be published at bullerengue.com, an educational platform through which the producer shares his creative projects and research.
Produced by Manuel García-Orozco
Co-produced by Mayte Montero
Mixing Engineers: María Elisa Ayerbe (Miami), Soular (Brooklyn, NY).
Mastering Engineer: María Triana (Amsterdam)
Recorded in Bogotá, the Caribbean, and New York by Mauricio Cano, Kiko Castro, Manuel García-Orozco.
Special Guests: Susana Baca (Perú), Nidia Góngora (Timbiquí), Angelique Kidjo (Benin, África), Aymée Nuviola (Cuba), Flor de Toloache (Nueva York), Xênia França (Brasil), Enerolisa Nuñez (República Dominicana), Neta (Honduras), Yomira John (Panamá), Eryen Korath (Buenaventura), Brianna Thomas (Nueva York), Anggie Bryan (San Andrés), Mónica Carrillo (Perú), Mai Elka Prado (Panamá).
Art Directors: Isaura Angulo, Carlos Dussan, Karen Flórez, Manuel García-Orozco, Juliana Jaramillo, Ledania, Lido Pimienta.
Packaging by Cactus Taller Gráfico.
PETRONA MARTINEZ are:
Petrona Martinez Villa- Cantadora (Lead Vocals)
Joselina Llerena Martínez, backing vocals, claps, totuma.
Nilda Llerena Martínez, backing vocals, claps.
Janer Amarís Orozco, tambor alegre, claps.
Guillermo Valencia Hernández, llamador, claps.
Stanly Montero, maracas, backing vocals, claps.
Javier Ramírez, guacho, catá, backing vocals.
Yoel Londoño, tambora.
Mayte Montero, musical director, backing vocals, claps, maracas.
Chaco, musical director, arranger, claps, guitars (5), llamador (7,10,16), water drum (11).
Susana Baca, Nidia Góngora, Eryen Korath (marimba de chonta), Angelique Kidjo (lengua fon), Aymée Nuviola, Joselina Llerena Martínez, Enerolisa Nuñez, Anggie Bryan, Mónica Carrillo, Mai Elka Prado, Neta (lengua garífuna), Xênia França (portugués), Yomira John, Flor de Toloache, Brianna Thomas.
Marlon de la Peña: caña de millo (5).
Lali de la Hoz, Yaya Blanco, Jorge Aguilar, María Linares:Coros.
Ricardo Matute:tambor hembra (15), (16). Percusión menor (9). Percusión afrocolombiana, campana, y clave (7).
maracas (2), palmas.
Jenn del Tambó: palmas.
Gregorio Uribe: marímbula (3).
Jhon Eric Ibarguen Segura: percusión del Pacífico (3).
Bayron Alexis Castillo Portocarrero: percusión del Pacífico
(3).Althea SullyCole: kora (4), (5).
Oscar Convers: bajo (5).
Elkin Pautt: guitarra (5).
Adam Alesi: batería (5), (16).
Conun Pappas: piano jazz (16).
Brandão: contrabajo (16).
David Chebair: guitarra (16).
Milly Blades: tambor repicador panameño (10).
Mariano Martínez: tambor garífuna (10).