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21 Days of Musica Latina: Colombia

Totó la Momposina
Courtesy of the artist
Totó la Momposina

Editor's Note: To commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month this year, World Cafe is going on a musical tour of Latin America. Every weekday from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, we'll spotlight the music of a different Latin American country with a curated playlist of essential tracks, fresh voices and wild cards.

We close out our musical tour of Latin America in "the land of a thousand rhythms," and there truly are so many that have come out of Colombia.

Chief among them, perhaps, is cumbia. A musical innovation that exemplifies Latinidad, cumbia is what happens when three distinct worlds collide. Now, this synthesis of African, American Indigenous and Spanish rhythms has flowed to every corner of Latin America.

This mix includes Colombian artists who were instrumental in the development and spread of cumbia like Lucho Bermúdez and Totó la Momposina, as well as students of its history like Bomba Estéreo.

Colombia also boasts some of the biggest stars in Latin American music. This playlist includes hits from Juanes, Carlos Vives, Shakira and Karol G, who broke streaming records this year with her album Mañana Será Bonito.

The story of rock in Colombia is woven into this mix, too, with Aterciopelados and the bevy of indie rock acts that have followed in their footsteps, like Mitú, Lika Nova and Revólver Plateado.

Colombia is also home to a rich world of pop and dance music, full of up-and-coming artists like Loyal Lobos, VALÉ and Sinego. And, while she probably doesn't qualify as an up-and-comer anymore, we had to include a cut from Kali Uchis' sumptuous 2023 record, Red Moon in Venus.

And that's a wrap! You can head to World Cafe's Latin Roots page to revisit the 500+ songs we've explored during these 21 Days of Musica Latina.

Copyright 2023 XPN

Miguel Perez
Miguel Perez is a radio producer for NPR's World Cafe, based out of WXPN in Philadelphia. Before that, he covered arts, music and culture for KERA in Dallas. He reported on everything from the rise of NFTs in the music industry to the enduring significance of gay and lesbian bars to the LGBTQ community in North Texas.
Byron Gonzalez
Guatemalan born and Los Angeles raised, Byron Gonzalez graduated from California State University, Northridge with a Bachelor's in journalism, with an emphasis on broadcast. Shortly thereafter, Gonzalez became the program director of Los Angeles' only 24-hour Latin Alternative radio station, The Latin Alt ( He's also a Latin Roots correspondent for NPR's World Cafe program. He has dedicated his career to highlighting a wide selection of music from established, emerging and independent artists with roots in Latin America, Brazil and Spain.