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February 6, 2010

Rafael Cepeda "The Patriarch of the Bomba and Plena"

Rafael Cepeda Atiles a.k.a. "The Patriarch of the Bomba and Plena" (July 10, 1910 – July 21, 1996) was the patriarch of the Cepeda family, known internationally as the exponents of Puerto Rican-African folk music.  Cepeda was born in Puerta de Tierra, San JuanPuerto Rico, to Modesto Cepeda and Leonor Atiles.

 Cepeda was born into a family who have passed the traditional dances of the Bomba and Plena from generation to generation. The Bomba is a music, rhythm and dance that was brought to Puerto Rico by the West African slaves. The Plena is another form of folkloric music of Puerto Rico of African origin. According to Cepeda, he was born while his mother Leonor was in the middle of a Bomba dance. He attended San Augustin Catholic School until the 8th grade in San Juan. After Cepeda finished 8th grade he took up amateur boxing and worked as a carpenter. During his free time he continued to practice dancing the Bomba and Plena. Read more/source


Fly Girl said...

Oh the bomba and plena is so wonderful! I've seen it performed live many times in Chicago. Great post.

Ana said...

Cepeda was one of the masters. Rafael Cortijo,Tite Curet Alonso, Ismael Rivera and many more Puerto Rican singers also have taken la Bomba y la Plena to great international heights.

La Bomba y La Plena along with Afro Cuban beat have influenced Salsa music.
Salsa singers often give tributes in their shows to many of the great "pleneros".

I love the call and response nature of this music.

When Ismael Rivera composed the hit "Las caras lindas de mi gente negra"(the beautiful faces of my black people, a song similar to James Brown- I am black and proud) for the Spanish speaking black world , he said he was inspired by the beautiful black faces of his sisters,family and residents of his village.

La Bomba Y la Plena is very sweet, melodic, romantic,rhythmic,deep and spiritual.

Whenever Puerto Ricans and other Caribbean latinos here in NY city have parties, they would invite one of these musical bands(pleneros) to start and warm up their parties.

These musicians always begin honoring the ancestors then after would proceed with dance music.

Afro latinos believe that this music and those similar are carried in the blood.


Beauty Is Diverse said...

@Fly Girl- Lucky you.

@Ana - Thanks for the added information.


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