Afro-Andean Funk is Peruvian singer Araceli Poma and American multi-instrumentalist Matt Geraghty. The New York City-based band fuses Afro-Peruvian musical traditions with American R&B and a world of influences.
- Afro-Andean Funk plays Andean cumbia for dancing at the Bryant Park Dance party on Wednesday, May 10, 2023 at 7pm. Free. 🇵🇪
Afro-Andean Funk is a Latin Grammy-nominated band rooted in Afro-Peruvian tradition, but fused with R&B, rock and jazz. Their self-titled album was made with Argentine electronic artist Grod and Haitian Creole vocalist Manno Beats.
The record is sung in Spanish, Quechua, Haitian Creole and English. That makes it All-American: North American, South American and the Caribbean. Welcome to New York! 🇵🇪 🇦🇷 🇭🇹 🇺🇸
Being a woman, a Latin woman, an Indigenous woman and an African Diaspora woman can work against you, but Araceli Poma turns all that into strength. She is a warrior, but not in the old way.
Poma is a culture warrior. Her grandparents speak Quechua, the language of the great Inca Civilization of the Andes. By sharing the rich and subtle nuances of her heritage, Araceli gives audiences a chance to recognize our common humanity.
Poma’s Peruvian heritage reaches to the Quechua of the Andes, the Indigenous peoples of the Amazon highlands, the African Diaspora of the old coastal plantations, Asians after abolition, and the Spanish colonial legacy.
Honestly, Araceli Poma reminds us of Violeta Parra, the great Chilean folk singer who reinvigorated Chilean folk music and spread it around the world (“Gracias a la vida”). Poma and Parra are both champions of the people, the regular people of the pueblo.
When they took away the drum in what became the United States, the African Diaspora created Jazz, Country, Swing, Rock, R&B, and Hip-Hop. Indigenous and African drums still live south of the U.S. border in Central America, the Caribbean and Latin America. Afro-Andean Funk brings it all back together.
In a way, Geraghty is doing with Latin music what Ry Cooder did in Cuba with Buena Vista Social Club. He’s digging into the roots to see what’s still there and how it relates to now. Matt is the founder of the “Just Play” international collaboration and musical documentary series. justplay.world
Geraghty’s explorations are more than musical. He holds music in the context of daily life, which is where it actually lives in the Latin world. Latin music’s natural habitat is the living room, the backyard, the patio, the plaza, or an empty field. And it’s not just entertainment. Latin music marks and enriches all the phases of traditional life. In traditional cultures, music is still sacred.
Matt is smart to build the Afro-Andean Funk project around a female singer, because women are the guardians of culture. Geraghty met Araceli Poma in a recording studio in Peru while working on his video project “The Warrior Women of Afro-Peruvian Music.”
The Sacred Leaf
The album features electronic artist Grod, from Buenos Aires, and Haitian Creole singer Manno Beats.
“The Sacred Leaf” brings ritual traditions into the music. The “Sacred Leaf” is the coca leaf which is deeply embedded in day-to-day Andean life. The album also touches on the Amazonian ayahuasca which is used in sacred ceremonies of self-discovery.
Traditional cultures have a shaman who is the community doctor, psychologist, holy person, keeper of traditions, and usually the best dancer. The shaman’s healing power is very present in this music. Another way to describe Afro-Andean Funk is Latin music with a lot of Soul.
The work that Poma and Geraghty are doing to both preserve and carry forward traditional culture is more important than ever. Social media is smothering traditional culture and the Covid pandemic took out the elder generation of cultural guardians.
Araceli Poma’s and Matt Geraghty’s Afro-Andean Funk is a project worth following. It’s fun teasing out their world of musical influences. With a Latin Grammy nomination under their belt, we are pretty sure, Afro-Andean Funk is just getting started.
- Bryant Park
- Minton’s Playhouse