Rhythm, Color, Flavor: Le Dije a Papa by Eva Ayllón

Ritmo, Color, y Sabor – Popular Afro Peruvian singer Eva Ayllon had that right when she sang her famous song. Musica Criolla – a type of music that is popular on the coast and is influenced by African, European, and Andean music – is filled with rhythm, color, and flavor. I mean, there is even an entire holiday to celebrate its importance to Peruvian culture. The guitar, the cajon, the soulful singing is something I can’t get enough of and, honestly, it is one of the best things about Peru. And dare I say that the genre is seriously underrated on the world music scene? And in the spirit of trying to spread the gospel of la musica criolla, I wanted to create a series of posts about some of my favorite songs. Learn about the artists and the story behind the lyrics, dance, and enjoy one of the best kept secrets of Peru!

Le Dije a Papá, a song originally performed by a man named Pepe Vasquez but popularized by legendary singer Eva Ayllón, is a must know and classic in the musica criolla world. It’s fun, it’s festive and it really just makes you want to get up and dance. More importantly, its a song about Afro Peruvian musical culture and an ode to a pioneer in Black Peruvian  music.

If your Spanish skills are any good, you’ll hear that it says, “The great Porfirio Vazquez did it with art and now I sing it.”  Well, Porfirio Vasquez was Pepe Vasquez’ father and is considered the patriarch of of Afro Peruvian music – he’s a big freakin’ deal. And as the song goes on, you’ll hear the it saying, “When I was little, I said to my father, ‘I want to sing, I want to play [cajon].’  I told my father, ‘I want to be like you.” 

What I like most about this song is that it’s short and simple but it has so much cultural significance behind it. It also tugs at my little heart strings because at the end of the day, its about how much a son loved and admired his father. Now before you drop a tear in the name of filial love, have a listen to Eva Ayllón make Porfirio and Pepe Vasquez prouder than proud.

Need more musica criolla songs for your iPod? Check out more of my favorites here.


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