This fifteenth installment of World Cafe's Latin Roots music series is hosted by Chicago-based journalist Catalina Maria Johnson. She writes in Spanish and English for publications such as HOY, Revista Contratiempo, Gozamos and Nat Geo Music. and is a regular radio personality and hosts/producer for the radio program Beat Latino, which airs in Chicago, Mexico City and Berlin.
In the late 19th century, Rumba started to emerge in the port city of Matanzas, an hour east of Havana. Rumba is more than just a style of music. It is a unique cultural blend of ryhtym, dance, and poetry. Cuban rumba begins with a chant upon which different elements are added. It is an important part of Afro-Cuban culture, and in its earliest forms served as a form of personal entertainment - the style was played in backyards or on the streets with family and friends - and often times an outlet for protest. The music is held together by a clave beat and melds congolese drumming with traditional call-and-response in either flamenco or Moorish styles. Cuban Rumba laid the foundation for many other distinct styles of Latin music and informs modern Latin hip-hop and salsa. Las Krudas are an Austin-based hip-hop act that incorporate many cuban rumba elements.