Cumbia music by country

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Due to the diversity of Latin America, Colombian and Panamanian cumbia music has undergone major changes as it mixed with the regional music styles of several countries (especially in Ecuador, Peru and Mexico). There are several distinct variations of the music:


Peruvian cumbia, particularly from 1960s to mid-1990s, is generally known as "Chicha", although this definition is quite problematic as both Peruvian cumbia and Chicha currently co-exist and influence each other (good examples include Agua Marina's popular cover of Los Eco's "Paloma Ajena" and Grupo Nectar's cover of Guinda's "Cerveza, Ron y Guinda"). Peruvian cumbia started in the 1960s with groups such as Los Destellos, and later with Juaneco Y Su Combo, Los Mirlos, Los Shapis, Cuarteto Continental, Los Diablos Rojos, Pintura Roja, Chacalon y la Nueva Crema and Grupo Nectar. Some musical groups that play Peruvian cumbia today are: Agua Marina, Armonia 10, Agua Bella, and Grupo 5. These groups would be classified as Cumbia but often take songs and techniques from Chicha and Huayno (Andean Music) in their stylings or as songs (see Armonia 10's "Quise Morir"). Grupo Fantasma was a Peruvian-Mexican cumbia group. Andean Cumbia, is a style that combines Andean music and cumbia. This style has even become popular in Mexico, as some groups like Grupo Saya claim to be Cumbia andina mexicana, Mexican Andean Cumbia.


Today traditional cumbia is preserved and considered representative of the Colombian identity, especially on the northern Caribbean coast. The best representation of traditional Cumbia is shown every year on Festival de la Cumbia in El Banco, Magdalena. This festival was created by one of the most important Colombian Cumbia composers, Jose Barros, in order to preserve the original rhythms of traditional Cumbia music. It is also associated with the Carnival of Baranquilla and the Christmas parties ALL over Colombia. Modern forms of cumbia are also combined with other genres such as vallenato, electronica or rock. This mixing of genres is found in the music of modern artists such as Carlos Vives, Bomba Estéreo, Andres Cabas, Humberto Pernett.

Since the 1980s, in the city of Medellín, there has been growing interest among young and middle-aged people in "rescuing" the masterpieces of the '50s. This is the only city in Colombia where ballroom numbers of Cumbia, Porro and Gaita (orchestrated variant of Porro Pelayero or "Palitiao") are still widely enjoyed and danced to by all ages of all social classes.

Costa Rica[edit]

A very famous song in the Costa Rican cumbia, known around the world, is "Jugo de Piña". Modern cumbia cover versions of the song exist with today's instruments.


Nicaragua became a stronghold of Cumbia music during the 1950s and 1960s. The country has its own variation of cumbia music and dance.[1] Mostly known for its cumbia chinandegana in the Northwestern section of the country, it has also seen a rise in cumbia music artists on the Caribbean coast like Gustavo Layton.


Panamanian cumbia is found specially in the provinces of Veraguas, Los Santos, Herrera, Panama, (cumbia chorrerana) and Darién (cumbia darienita) and the precursor of modern popular folk music. In this country, cumbia is played with pujador (or llamador) drum, caja drum, accordion, violin, pito flute and mejoranera guitar. The female cumbia dancers wear polleras and usually dance with ignited candle in the hand. Out of the borders of Colombia, Panama is the only country where the cumbia is a dance with strictly folklore and cultural character.


Main article: Mexican cumbia

In the 1940s Colombian singer Luis Carlos Meyer Castandet, emigrated to Mexico where he worked with the Mexican orchestra director Rafael de Paz. He recorded what many people think was the first cumbia recorded outside of Colombia, La Cumbia Cienaguera. He recorded other hits like Mi gallo tuerto, Caprichito, and Nochebuena . This is when Cumbia began to be popularized in Mexico. From 1952 to 1954 Lucho Bermúdez lived in Mexico City where he met and recorded with Perez Prado and Benny More. Carmen Rivero was one of the first Mexican singers to record Cumbias, with new elements, imported from the Cuban scene.

In the 1960s Mike Laure included rock and roll elements into the Cumbia, to create a new style.

In the 1970s Aniceto Molina also emigrated to Mexico, where he joined the group from Guerrero, La Luz Roja de San Marcos, and recorded many popular tropical cumbias like La Cumbia Sampuesana, El Campanero, El Gallo Mojado, El Peluquero, and La Mariscada. Also in the 70s Rigo Tovar became very popular with his fusion of Cumbia with ballad.

Other popular Mexican Cumbia composers and interpreters are Efrén David, Super Grupo Colombia, Grupo Kual, La Tropa Vallenata, Celso Piña Y su Ronda Bogotá, Fito Olivares, Grupo Cañaveral, Los Angeles Azules, Alberto Pedraza, Los Angeles de Charli, Los Caminantes, and Grupo Bronco to name a few.

Nowadays Mexican Cumbia is played in many other different ways: Cumbia andina mexicana, Cumbia Norteña, Tecno-Cumbia, Cumbia sonidera, Cumbia with Ska and Reggae, Cumbia Lagunera, Cumbia Movida.


Main article: Argentine cumbia

In Argentina, due to its identity crisis, there is a social divide that is exemplified by the cumbia villera phenomenon that represents and resonates with the poor and marginalized dwellers of villas miseria, (shanty towns, and slums). Argentinian cumbia lyrics typically glorify theft and drug abuse. Pablo Lezcano, ex-member of Amar Azul and founder of Flor Piedra and Damas Gratis is known to be the creator of the cumbia villera "sound". However, a lighter form of cumbia enjoyed widespread popularity in Argentina during the 1990s (see Argentine cumbia). Antonio Rios (ex-Grupo Sombras, ex-Malagata) is a good representative of the Argentinian cumbia from the 1990s. The emergence of cumbia as a massively popular form of music in Argentina came perhaps with the release of Tarjetita de Invitacion by Adrian y Los Dados Negros (from Jujuy, northern Argentina) in 1988 which was certified platinum, a first back then for a cumbia act.


The cumbia sound from Bolivia usually incorporates Afro-Bolivian Saya beats and tecnocumbia. Another important cumbia band from Bolivia that peaked in popularity in the 1990s but remains highly popular is the band Maroyu.


It is one of the most popular dance forms in the country. It is widely danced at parties and gatherings. Chile has a long development history of its own style: the Chilean Cumbia. Sonora Palacios is one of the most successful orchestras of this genre, along with Viking 5, Giolito y su Combo and later La Sonora de Tommy Rey. However, Cumbia's popularity has been declining since the success of reggaetón in early 2000s, losing part of the preferences of the popular sectors of society. However, it regained popularity and identity in late 2010s thanks to the new rhythms like "Nueva Cumbia Chilena" (a particular fusion of cumbia and punk-rock styles), and the, resilient cumbia style from early 1990s, the Chilean technocumbia, sometimes called as "Sound" (A style partially based on the Peruvian, Bolivian and Mexican cumbia with some andinean styles, although it has his own identity based on a faster beat and better arrangements).

Nowadays, Cumbia is gaining new attention as a result of emergence of acts formed by younger musicians usually labelled as "La Nueva Cumbia Chilena" (The new Chilean Cumbia), including bands such as Chico Trujillo, Banda Conmocion, Juana Fe, Sonora Barón, Sonora de Llegar, Chorizo Salvaje, Sonora Tomo como Rey, Villa Cariño among others. These new bands offer some of the classic tones and sounds of Chilean cumbia blended with Rock or other folk Latin American styles.[2] La Noche and Americo are also very popular acts, although they perform a more traditional style of Chilean cumbia, in some extend related to the style that dominated during the 90s. The other substyle of the Chilean cumbia is called "sound" and was and continues being the most popular cumbia style in the northern part of the country (from XV region of Arica and Parinacota to V Region of Valparaíso and some regions of Southern Chile), it's better exponents actually are: Amerika'n Sound, Alegria, Amanecer and Pazkual y su Alegria, although into the late 90s and early 2000s there were dozens of groups that died with the style's crisis in mid 2005s.

El Salvador[edit]

Orchestras such as Orchestra San Vicente, Los Hermanos Flores and Grupo Bravo perform cumbia with basic instrumentation, replacing accordion with brass instruments and woodwinds, and using traditional percussion and electric bass.

"Chanchona" is a neologism to describe a musical band that follows a cumbia rhythm and uses instruments such as the accordion, electric bass, conga, güira, and the occasional keyboard. This genre is popularized by artists such as La Chanchona de Tito Mira and La Chanchona de Arcadio. Chanchona sometimes also features a marimba, made famous in the genre by Fidel Funes.

United States[edit]

Summer of Cumbia, Los Lobos, Locos Por Juana, Ozomatli, Los Gran Reyes De La Musica, Grupo Fantasma, Super Reyes, Nando y Solja Kingz, La Internacional Sonora Show, Chicha Libre, Kumbia Kings, Selena y Los Dinos, Los Reyes Del Sabor, Sabor Kolombia, Candelaria cumbia dub, Barrio Kings are famous musicians based in the United States that have performed and/or specialize in Mexican cumbia. Tucson "desert rock" musician Gabriel Sullivan works significant cumbia elements into his 2012 album None of This Is Mine.[3]