ChocQuibTown is set to take the 53rd Grammy awards by storm this Sunday, as they set the stage for a pre telecast performance and are the odds favorite to take Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album of the year. Their journey has not always been an easy one and their rise represents the hope of a particular community in Colombia that often battles against racism and indifference.
In their first-ever interview in Los Angeles, ChocQuibTown sat down with Cuéntame to explore everything from the success of their Grammy nominated album Oro, the roots of their culture and music to a passion for speaking out on Afro-Latino issues in Colombia and around the world:
"Part of what ChocQuibTown wants to do is to include the Afro communities of Latin America and to share it all with other people who may also have a strong background and culture with African roots as we do," says Goyo front vocalist for the band. This is precisely the roots of ChocQuibTown's success and unlikely journey from the depths of Colombian Afro Latino community to prominence and center stage in the music capital of the world - the power and poignancy of their words and music has something to say and somewhere to go. They don't hold back - and neither does their art - as such the rewards come fast and seemingly though deceptively easy.
It's no wonder that if you navigate through their Facebook page you will find ardent support from their fans and followers - with comments expressing pride and joy as they follow one of their own and shine light to an Afro-identity often shunned in many Latino nations - like Colombia.
While one third of Colombians are of African descent, these roots are not always reflected in the country's national cultural identity. Through Choc Quib Town's positive energy and socially-conscious message, the group looks to spread awareness about a culture that is often ignored. "Music from the Pacific coast is sort of lost among the things people generally associate with Colombia - cocaine, coffee, salsa, cumbia - they don't know much about what we call 'the Africa inside Colombia,'" Tostao explains. "You turn on the TV in Colombia and you don't see many Afro-Colombians. We are narrating a Colombia that does not appear in the mass media."
Their Cuéntame interview is sure to be the first of many to come and on Sunday they will be carrying many hearts and minds with them. If music as an art is to be an expression of passion, identity and social experience then ChocQuibTown are the perfect example of how to do it.
Follow Axel W. Caballero on Twitter: www.twitter.com/cuentamefb