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Cumbia [ˈkumbja] is a dance-oriented music genre popular throughout Latin America. It began as a courtship dance practiced among the African population on the Caribbean coasts of Colombia. It later mixed with Amerindian and European instruments, steps and musical characteristics and spread throughout Latin America and abroad.[1][need quotation to verify] While other genres of Latin American music have remained associated with specific countries or regions, cumbia has grown to be one of the most widespread and unifying musical genres to emerge from Latin America.[2]

Cumbia across Latin America[edit]

The diverse types of cumbia throughout Latin America


By the 1940s cumbia began spreading from the coast to other parts of Colombia alongside other costeña form of music, like porro and vallenato. Clarinetist Lucho Bermúdez helped bring cumbia into the country's interior. By the 1950s cumbia was migrating across Colombia's northern and southern borders, first to Ecuador and Peru, then Mexico and Argentina, and eventually into the rest of Spanish-speaking Central and South America.[3][page needed] The early spread of cumbia internationally was helped by the number of record companies located on the coast. Originally a working-class populist music, cumbia was frowned upon by the elites, but as the music pervaded class association with the music subsided in Colombia and cumbia became a shared music in every sector of society.[2]

Today, the best representation of traditional cumbia is shown every year on the Festival de la Cumbia in El Banco, Magdalena.[4][relevant? ]


As Colombia's southern neighbor, Ecuador was among the first countries to adopt cumbia as a native genre. Ecuadorian cumbia initially drew heavily upon the Meztizo music of the Andes and gradually absorbed more Afro-Cuban instrumentation and rhythm throughout the 1960s and 70s.[3][page needed]


Nicaragua became a stronghold of cumbia music during the 1950s and 1960s. The country has its own variation of cumbia music and dance.[5]

Cumbia in the United States[edit]

Cumbia first came to the U.S. from Colombia and Central America in the mid-20th century and/or during the 1980s. Another wave of enthusiasm for and knowledge of the music arrived with the Colombian immigrants fleeing the turmoil of the 1980s. Since then, cumbia music scenes have grown up and thrived in U.S. cities within the significant Latin American populations of Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Corpus Christi. Cumbia music has also caught on with musicians beyond the Latina Diaspora, resulting in fusions of cumbia with other genres such as Afrobeat, rock, Chinese, and brass band music.[3][page needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Luis Vitale. Música popular e identidad Latinoamericana.
  2. ^ a b Garsd, Jasmine (Feb 18, 2015). "Cumbia: The Musical Backbone Of Latin America". National Public Radio. Alt Latino. Retrieved 18 May 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c Hernandez, Deborah Pacini (2010). Oye Como Va!: Hybridity and Identity in Latino Popular Music. Temple University Press. ISBN 9781439900918. 
  4. ^ Narvaez, Robert (February 3, 2016). "CARNAVAL: The Cumbia Serenade 2016". Barranquilla Life. Sixteen contestants, represented by the various towns in the Department of Atlantico, competed for the title and had an opportunity to represent the Department of Atlantico in the Festival de la Cumbia in Banco, Magdalena. 
  5. ^ National Geographic Cumbia Music

External links[edit]