Singer Araceli Pomawho is part of the group Afro-Andean Funk next to the bass player Matt Geraghty, has put Peru on high for the second time. The national artist has been nominated in the Latin Grammy 2022 in the category ‘Best Alternative Music Album‘for his work on ‘The Sacred Leaf‘, competing against great international artists.
“We are very happy because I know that we are spreading the music of my roots, I am proud of them. The music of Peru is becoming known, becoming visible throughout the world”, he told us from New York, where he has lived for years, but with Peru always present in his heart.
In interview with Infobae, Araceli Poma He tells us about his second nomination for the most important music awards in Latin America and about the main objective of ‘The Sacred Leaf‘, which includes music in Spanish and Quechua in an unprecedented modern fusion.
Araceli, congratulations on your second nomination. This time you represent Peru with ‘The sacred leaf’…
Yes. We are grateful for it, it is a great moment and we have to continue working hard. Music is a path of great constancy.
Tell me a little more about the album, what does it consist of?
The album is in Quechua and Spanish. Lead single ‘The Sacred Leaf’ is a collaboration with Haitian artist Manno Beats. For me it has been very important to make that album with songs that include indigenous languages because it seems relevant and necessary to make visible the original languages that, unfortunately, are being lost. And better if it’s through music, I think that’s how it will reach the new generations.
Do you think your work is valued in Peru?
I think that over time there are some things that have been changing for the better, and I think that now we are much more aware of the importance of our original languages, of the importance of spreading culture, of generating this bond with the new generations, of loving what is ours and also respect other cultures.
And for you, why is it important to rescue the original languages?
In Peru there is a large part of Quechua speakers and Quechua is one of the 48 indigenous languages that our country has. Doing this generates inclusion and, in addition, it is important to give continuity to a culture. We must remember that we have other languages, not just Spanish.
Is there a way to do it, beyond music?
Yes, not only can it be rescued through songs, but also by applying them to a restaurant menu, to an airport sign. In this way we are also including many people from different cultures, and that seems to me to be an urgent and necessary issue.
What motivates you?
My main inspiration has always been my grandparents. My paternal grandmother is 90 years old, she is a Quechua speaker, raised in Huancayo. I heard a lot about her, that her parents didn’t teach her to speak Quechua. Despite the fact that she lived in a place where most of her was a Quechua speaker, her parents did not want to teach her or her siblings the language. They were afraid that her children would grow up discriminated against. Inevitably, my grandmother learned the language of the people, but she grew up with the same thought.
So how did you learn to speak Quechua?
Look, my grandmother didn’t teach her children Quechua. My dad understands some things, but he doesn’t speak it. In my case, I have grown up with the Quechua songs of my paternal grandmother, the language came to me through music. That is why it is so important for me to sing in Quechua. I don’t want the culture of my grandmother and of millions of people to be forgotten.
Within the album, is there a theme that is your favorite?
All the songs have a lot of passion because they are all our compositions, but I have a special connection with ‘water of oblivion‘ because it is a song in which a shaman participated that I love very much and she has put her voice on the album through a ritual song.
Three other Peruvians, Nicole Zignago, Eva Ayllón and Susana Baca, have been nominated for the Latin Grammy 2022, what are your views on them?
I feel very proud. In the case of Nicole, she is such a young artist that she is raising the name of the country. In addition, she is a young woman who has been working a lot, I know that many of the people do not know all the work behind the artist. It has also helped me a lot to be able to listen to her music a little more, I think she is a great artist who is shining with her own light. And well, for me, Susana Baca and Eva Ayllón are teachers of teachers. They have always been a great musical reference. I feel honored to belong to that generation.
Another great figure in Peruvian music is Bartola, who recently caused controversy for his statements about Afro-Peruvians…
I know Bartola for her musical career, I also admire her a lot, but she has her opinions, I respect them but I don’t share them. I do want to have an identity and each artist has the way of thinking about it.
You have lived in New York for years, how do you feel as a Peruvian in a city as big as this?
I feel very comfortable in this city. New York is a city where you can find yourself in a single train car with 40 different languages, including indigenous ones. It is wonderful to connect with so many cultures. I have had the opportunity to meet Quechua-speaking people from Ecuador and Argentina, you really connect with many people here.
What do you miss about Peru?
I miss my family, of course, but we are always in touch. My bitches. I would also tell you that the love that is found in many traditional Lima clubs. It is not the same to have the physical hug of the grandmother, but let’s say that technology makes us miss less and dedicate ourselves more to work. I miss everything, but I think my case is particular because I work with Peru, I feel that I am Peru, I have it in my heart.
How do you feel the reaction of your fans to your nomination has been?
I have a small community, but super big for me. They are always sending me the vibes and a lot of love, for me that is worth a lot because they help me get ahead. Making a musical career is not easy, neither in Peru nor in the United States. But the affection of the public has helped me a lot to continue fighting it.
The Latin Grammy 2022 will be held in November and you will compete against Rosalía, Bomba Estéreo and other greats, do you feel nervous?
More than nervous, I feel proud because already being nominated as a band is something big for me. In 2020 we were nominated with Juanes and more world stars, we were aware of who we were competing with, but you still get nervous because you already sense… Now, Rosalía has fame and coverage, she is a star. Honestly, I’m not so nervous right now, we’re working hard on our projects.
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Araceli Poma, the Peruvian who will compete against Rosalía at the Latin Grammy 2022: “Proud of my roots”
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