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Cover of Petrona Martinez's new album, "Ancestras".
Cover of Petrona Martinez's new album, Ancestras. Cover: Chaco World Music

'Ancestras,' the new release from Afro-Colombian legend Petrona Martinez

Petrona Martinez's latest, Ancestras, brings together 14 music legends and celebrates the power of women of African descent.

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The queen of bullerengue, Petrona Martínez, has brought together the best female voices of traditional music in Ancestras, her latest production. The new album features the collaboration of 14 women of African descent, such as Susana Baca, Lido Pimienta, Nidia Góngora, Aymée Nuviola, Xênia França, Flor de Toloache, among other great representatives of the African diaspora. 

With the project, Petrona and her bullerengue pay tribute to the legacy of love and resistance of her ancestors while speaking with rhythms, such as Afrobeat, jazz, mariachi, rumba and Cuban timba; and in languages like Fon (Africa), Garífuna (Central America), Portuguese (Brazil), Palenquero (Colombia), and other native languages of the continent.

"It is nice that after the tonality that I give to my songs, there are others that make them roll pa'lante," said the singer.

The album Ancestras is one of Petrona's latest recordings and projects, as she has been away from the stage due to health problems.

However, as a group, Petrona Martínez, presented her new album in a virtual concert during the Afrolatino Festival in New York this Summer, where heiress Joselina Llerena Martínez assumed the lead vocals along with Susana Baca and other guests.

“La reina del bullerengue”  was recognized as a preponderant female voice by the City Council of Madrid in 2003 and with a "Life and Work Award" from the Ministry of Culture in 2015.

Mónica Carrillo, Afro-Peruvian activist, says that "Petrona represents the Afro-Diasporic woman for her constant relationship with her ancestors: matriarchal women, resilient and perpetuators of traditions that re-germinate until they become the legacy we value today."

At 82-years-old, Martínez is the bearer of knowledge, musical traditions and ancestral memories that have led her to compose more than a hundred of her own works and establish herself as a reference among Colombian bullerengue singers.

In commemoration of the International Day of Afro-Latin, Afro-Caribbean and Diaspora Women on July 26, the Teatro Colón was the stage for the awarding of the "Gran Orden del Ministerio de Cultura" to Martínez,for her contributions to promote Colombian arts and culture nationally and internationally. It was also to honor her 50-year career.

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