6. Lila Downs. With fifteen years of experience, the singer, songwriter, and producer; one of the most influential artists of a new sound with folk roots and contemporary sounds. In her latest album “Balas y Chocolate”, the artist continues to redefine the cultural and popular imagination of Mexico today, with a message as festive as it is social. Miscegenation is her language to dialogue with the folklore of the region and the urban sounds of Latin America. Her voice is capable of mutating in every song, from the sentimentality of the ranchera on the border that earned her the nickname of the ‘heir to Chavela Vargas’, through the festive flavor of the ‘comadritas’ in the market and the nasal sound of cumbia, to the testimonial gravity that reminds Mercedes Sosa or the urgent and rapper song of ‘Calle 13’.
5. Mariana Baraj. Her strength is musicality and her gaze towards the roots. Born into a family of musicians, she had an instrumental background and a stint in rock and jazz bands that gave her folklore a particular sound. Her reinterpretation of classics of the Argentine folk genre combined with new creations, her particular interpretive phrasing closer to that of the ‘copleras’ of northern Argentina, rock power and rhythmic power, gave Mariana Baraj her weight within the music scene. The release of her seventh solo album ‘Vallista’, not only claims a region, a repertoire, a way of singing and even a way of being for the woman of the high-altitude peoples, but she also dives into an organic and cosmic sound like the one in the ‘baguala’. Mariana recreates the Valladolid atmosphere from the musicality of the woods and patches, the seeds, the reeds, the loops, and ‘charangos’, accompanied by friends like Gustavo Santaolalla; and manages to reflect an essential and essential voice of the current folklore map.
4. Ileana Mercedes Cabra. The singer, known within the Calle 13 group as PG 13, was always the secret musical weapon behind the overwhelming presence of René and her visiting brother. Her first solo project “Ilevitable” has a strong incidence of boleros and a Caribbean sound, inspired by emblematic and transgressive figures. However, whether from her active participation in the ‘Calle 13’ group, or the advances of her particular versions of torn boleros, “iLe” (as she was renamed for her solo project), looks as intense and sharp as when she sings in ‘Calle 13’ hymns as “Latinoamerica”. In her solo format, the singer leans towards a retro aesthetic, between the bolero and the folkloric figure of yesteryear from the fifties, but who has a wild and current attitude.
3. Camila Moreno. Intimate and noisy. Fair and poetic. Camila Moreno appeared on the Chilean scene to awaken consciences and fall in love, all at the same time. Her folkloric scratches with a pulse of cueca and her muffled phrasing reminiscent of the young Violeta Parra, her melodicism and hypnotic pop cadence with references to Juana Molina and her sonic spells that reflect the new musical trends of the global village, positioned her as one of the iconic figures of the new Chilean song. She was the series leader of the “Ruidosa festival”, which brought together trans-Andean female rock, promoted by Francisca Valenzuela and where, among others, Fakuta, Mariners, Paz Court, Natisú, Planta Carnivora and Javiera Mena participated. Her latest album “Mala Madre” (2015), accentuated that path of international projection that took her career from the reception that had her debut album “Almismotiempo” of 2009. Grammy-nominated and that promoted one of her first hymns and hits “Millones”, against corporations. Camila Moreno constantly surprises, in the cover art of her latest album she appears naked, she released the album for a day online and her powerful songs do not go unnoticed, sometimes written as a personal diary and others denouncing the social context. There is a poetic intensity in those folk melodies, an artistic truth that brings a fresh breeze from the mountains.
2. Totó la Momposina. For fifty years, she has been the pioneer and largest representative of traditional Colombian music in the world. Totó and her musicians work to recover, mix and create new expressions of traditional music, through the mixing of instruments and feelings from the different regions of the country in one sound, in a single song of Colombian cultural identity. The Colombian singer, originally from the island of Mompox, learned the art of music, singing and dancing from her parents and a very young age became “Totó” when she listened to the sound of the drum to which she rhythmically responded “To-to”. She comes from a family of musicians, artists and shoemakers and with them she formed, in 1964, the first musical group with which she began a long career full of triumphs and satisfactions. The artist presents “Tambolero”, a review of the work of Toto, the Afro-indigenous muse, who captivated Peter Gabriel who introduced her to the world through his RealWorld label in 1991 and where hymns of his career were as “The fisherman”.
1. Natalia Lafourcade. With her album “Hasta la raíz”, the Mexican devastated the last Latin Grammy ceremony, taking five statuettes. For the artist, the recognition was not only to the album but to a repertoire of her creations with a folk pulse and pop cadence, produced by Cachorro López. As a rising figure in Mexican pop rock, the singer found in her new material, the sixth of her career, an identity trait that perfectly combined with her current sound and her urban pulse. After making an album dedicated to the work of Agustín Lara, the Veracruz artist released a handful of works from her vintage that have the current sound of colleagues like ‘Café Tacuba’, the indie spirit of artists like Carla Morrison, the songwriter Jorge Drexler and the deep roots of artists such as Violeta Parra, Simón Díaz and Chavela Vargas, who marked their path. The album “Hasta la raíz”, is the best sound document of its current pop, indie and folk.
Mercedes Sosa. The voice of human rights and life in Latin America. The Argentine singer assumed the commitment of the most vulnerable and defenseless and managed to become the collective cry for freedom, justice, truth, and dignity. She ended up defining herself as “a ‘cantora’ rather than a singer because the singer is the one who can sing and the ‘cantor’ is the one who must.” A descendant of emigrants and indigenous people, this mixture made her known as ‘La Negra’, for her black hair and her marked features, but also as ‘The voice of Latin America’ and ‘The voice of the voiceless’ for her style and its protest and denunciation lyrics.
Celia Cruz. Her presence in this list does not need explanations; the Cuban who made more history with her smile and personality, as well as with her music. A star that conquered everyone to the rhythm of ¡Azúcar! and that carried in her soul, until her last days, the passion for salsa, imposing a unique style in front of her audience.
Selena. Without a doubt the perfect combination of talent, beauty and passion. Her voice, charisma and beauty make her one of the most unforgettable Latin artists to this day. And, as we all know, Selena is second to none in any respect.