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Peruvian Minister of Culture to Bless Mayne Stage

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 20, 2011 3:00PM

Jose Loo
The music of Peruvian singer Susana Baca is both timeless and contemporary. Influenced by the family gatherings in her hometown of Chorillos, Baca's music incorporates traditional Peruvian instruments as the cajón, udu, dried gourds and quijada, the jawbone of a dead burro, with contemporary instruments like keyboards, guitar and bass.

Baca's voice is simultaneously fragile and full of soul, and her stage presence -- gliding across the stage as if floating just above it -- has reduced music halls the size of Sumphony Center to living room hootenannies. Baca is also a noted ethnomusicologist. She and her husband Ricardo Pereyra founded the Instituto Negrocontinuo (Black Continuum Institute) dedicated to the research, collection and preservation of Afro-Peruvian music, dance and culture. Baca's research gives her a rich foundation of music from which to draw, but she also weaves elements of Cuban and Brazilian music into her style. Baca has also covered Bjork's "Anchor Song" and Damien Rice's "Volcano." Her long association with David Byrne through his Luaka Bop label has led to fruitful associations from John Medeski and Marc Ribot.

Baca's work led to her being appointed Peruvian Minister of Culture by newly elected Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, making her the first black Peruvian to be appointed to a Presidential cabinet, which only adds another layer to the press for her new album Afrodiaspora. The tour for that album brings Baca and her longtime band to Chicago for two shows next Saturday at Mayne Stage. It will be her only Chicago appearance before she resumes her new duties.

Susana Baca plays at Mayne Stage Aug. 27. Showtimes are at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Tickets are available at or by calling 773-381-4551.