The Unique Music Genres of Colombia

Colombia has several styles of music that originated from its territory long ago and remain popular to this day...

Vallenato: Born in the city of Valledupar (Cesar) from which its name is derived, this folkloric style of music is especially popular in the country's Caribbean region. It owes much of its rhythms to the slaves brought from Africa in centuries past. Carlos Vives is vallenato's biggest star. Valledupar hosts an annual "Legends of vallenato" festival. Folks from the Caribbean region have the odd custom of installing huge speakers on their porches and blasting vallenato at top volume day or night. Nobody complains!

Guasca: Folk music from Antioquia, where the town of Betania considered the "capital" of the genre. The lyrics are typically vulgar and humorous. It's biggest star, Octavio Mesa, died recently. International pop star Juanes has said much of his inspiration came from the latter.

Llanera: Music from the "llanos", or plains, of eastern Colombia. It's distinguishing characteristic is its very original use of the harp, producing sounds that are decidedly not classical. Villavicencio, in Meta, is the capital of this music genre.

While in Colombia, you'll hear all three styles on a daily basis, whether it be in taxis and buses, or bars. Colombians love their music and can't seem to get enough of it. Other popular music styles didn't originate from Colombia: cumbia, reggaeton and Mexican rancheras. You'll hear more Vicente Fernandez tunes here than in Mexico! On the pop scene, native son Juanes is more popular than native daughter Shakira, the international phenomenon.

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