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Meet Nidia Góngora, The Afro-Colombian Singer Mixing Folkloric Traditions With Electronic Vibes
Nidia Góngora

Photo Courtesy of the Artist

interview

Meet Nidia Góngora, The Afro-Colombian Singer Mixing Folkloric Traditions With Electronic Vibes

On 'La Ñapa,' a collaborative EP with French trumpeter and producer Etienne Sevet, Nidia Góngora creates a dancefloor-ready intercultural dialogue.

GRAMMYs/May 4, 2022 - 05:11 pm

For Colombian singer/songwriter Nidia Góngora, performing isn’t only about showcasing her talents. "I feel pride in being able to present another side of Colombia, the Pacific region, which is also Colombia and is hardly ever shown," she says, speaking via Zoom from the remote town of Timbiquí.

Góngora, who grew up in Timbiquí, is a champion of the Pacific coast’s Afro-Colombian cultural heritage. With her band, Canalón de Timbiquí, and as a solo artist, Góngora highlights the region’s traditional folk music — a genre known as curralao, which is performed with marimba and percussion. 

On 2021's Almas Conectadas, a collaboration with the English producer Quantic, Góngora fused her folkloric style with electronic music. The result was a breathtaking work that fostered intercultural dialogue — and more new collaborators. Through Quantic, Góngora met French trumpeter and producer, Etienne Sevet, who performs as the Bongo Hop.  

La Ñapa, out May 6, is the third release with Sevet. In the standout titular track — which features a booming brass section and showcases Sevet's talent for dancefloor-ready arrangements — Góngora sings about an angry street vendor. Introducing the audience to Colombian slang, Góngora addresses, with humor, the reality of hustling in a city where people thrive to make ends meet.

"The shopkeeper has a long list of borrowers that won’t pay, so when people go and ask for ñapa, a little extra product, he will refuse to barter," Góngora explains, laughing. "So in this video, when I go shopping, I ask him to not get mad at me, because I came there to pay."

Below, Nidia Góngora speaks with GRAMMY.com about her activism, musical roots, and the sounds of her hometown.

How did you become interested in singing, and how did you start making music?

I come from a family of songstresses from Timbiquí, and I was raised on my mother’s side with the influence of traditional music and on my father’s side, listening to music from all over the world. Without a doubt, my family cultivated my love of music. 

Timbiquí is a very musical town; music there plays a very important role in people’s lives and our traditions. I always had a strong bond with music, since I was a child, and so I first focused on playing traditional folk music. 

Can you tell us a little more about Timbiquí’s traditional music?

Timbiquí’s traditional music is a sound that comes from the jungle, and the sea, it’s a sound that represents the natural elements. So we have the marimba de chonta [a percussion instrument], which sounds like rain, we have the bombo and the cununo [Indigenous percussion instruments], which are drums that represent the thunder, the strength, and power that inhabits the jungle. All of them are made with materials found there. That’s why the music made in the Pacific region is always reminding us that we live amongst nature, and we have to live in harmony with it. 

Singing is also part of that, women learn to harmonize, and through singing collectively, our voices preserve an ancestral oral tradition. Our music is music that has been passed amongst generations; they are ritual spaces where we sing to nature, life, and even death. Well, we sing to anything and everything that moves! [Laughs]

In past interviews, you've said that this tradition has been kept alive by women, in spite of men.

There is a strong leadership despite machismo, but there is also a strong matriarchal movement in the Pacific, centered around women, and our grandmothers. They are the ones who keep the stories, anecdotes, and wisdom. They are the elders (we call them mayoras), and they raise us with the idea that we are keepers of our traditions. Therefore, we are women that edify our community. 

Women are the ones in charge of organizing cultural and religious events, and political and social gatherings, and we are also in charge of raising the children, farming, and mining for gold. We are in every space and in every process, not only in strengthening and community action but in everything that has to do with empowering ourselves. And we do that through singing, poetry, and ancestral practices like medicine and gastronomy. So it is truly women… who keep alive the strength and spirit amongst local communities. 

Is that strength what inspired you to lead your group, Canalón de Timbiquí?

Canalón de Timbiquí is a process of musical relay between generations. It is a process of transmission of knowledge that we, as women, have dedicated to replicating. Our duty as cantoras [songstresses] is to not let the tradition die and to promote it, transmitting it to younger generations. 

We have done a huge amount of labor to make our music known internationally, but we have also generated strong local spaces where music is still needed. We believe the traditional music of the Pacific and all of this knowledge is super relevant because it’s music that heals, and has transformative power. The music we are showing to the world speaks of a territory that has been ostracized, and impoverished, but we speak of its powerful elements. We speak of our ability to move forward, as a Black community, and as a community that has contributed to the growth of this country and to its society as a whole. 

How did you leap from making traditional folk music to electronic music?

I started working with electronic fusion when I met Quantic, a British producer in 2017. At first, it was… difficult for our elders to understand that our music would leave its natural structure, its home, so they said the music would be diluted. They were worried I was somehow renouncing our musical roots. 

So my idea was to explain that our music is full of power and that it is important to explore it through different sonorities. Just as we open our hearts to give, we open our hearts to receive. I felt refusing to receive is refusing to learn to expand our culture and become known. It was always a dream of mine to take the music of the Pacific to the rest of the world and to explore other musical universes through it. That is how I met Etienne [the Bongo Hop].

What do you like the best about collaborating with the Bongo Hop?

I really appreciate Etienne’s work and his curiosity to learn about all sorts of music. I really love this project because it’s music that gives me a lot of joy, that also connects me with African roots, and mixes three different cultures in one musical act. 

With it, we can bring music to new audiences and connect through music as a universal language. It is incredible to be able to collaborate together, even being in different countries, and to be able to show Timbiquí’s music. It’s something we rarely get a chance to do: To shout out loud that we are here, and that we are also part of Colombia.

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Positive Vibes Only: Tye Tribbett Leads A Funk-Filled Onstage Dance Party With An Irrepressible Performance Of "Get Up"
Tye Tribbett

Photo: Jami Films

video

Positive Vibes Only: Tye Tribbett Leads A Funk-Filled Onstage Dance Party With An Irrepressible Performance Of "Get Up"

GRAMMY-winning gospel singer Tye Tribbett leads a full band in a danceable, joy-filled performance of "Get Up" in this feel-good live performance video.

GRAMMYs/Oct 2, 2022 - 05:30 pm

Tye Tribbett leads a stage full of performers and dancers in this electrifying live performance of "Get Up," the second track from his Tribbett's eighth album to date, All Things New, released last summer.

In this episode of Positive Vibes Only, grab a front-row seat to Tribbett's funky, feel-good show, which celebrates the feel-good joy of faith. 

From start to finish, this performance is an onstage, high-energy dance party. It begins with a dazzling light show, chorus vocals and a crowd of dancers, before a horn section kicks in to crank up the energy even further.

All Things New embraces genre-blending and collaboration for an epic tracklist. Tribbett says it's all about embracing joy — especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, when fans and musicians alike were unable to join together.

"I made this album to fight against the feeling of defeat in light of everything we have all been through these past few years," the singer explains. "I wanted to put a joyful experience out in the world to remind not just me but all of us that there is still beauty to the world."

The jubilant mood of the album translates perfectly to the live version of "Get Up," which taps a funky horn section and bass line to round out the proceedings. The crowd, too, is an integral part of the performance — with a number of close-ups of fans filming, dancing and grooving.

Press play on the video above to immerse yourself in the joy of Tribbett's  "Get Up" performance, and keep checking GRAMMY.com every Sunday for more new episodes of Positive Vibes Only.

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GRAMMY Rewind: Rosalía Thanks Female Trailblazers Who Inspired Her As She Accepts A Latin GRAMMY For "Malamente" In 2018
Rosalía

video

GRAMMY Rewind: Rosalía Thanks Female Trailblazers Who Inspired Her As She Accepts A Latin GRAMMY For "Malamente" In 2018

As she stepped onstage to claim her Best Urban/Fusion Performance trophy at the 2018 Latin GRAMMYs, Rosalía thanked the women who came before her in the music industry — and proved that it pays off to go your own way.

GRAMMYs/Sep 30, 2022 - 07:49 pm

2018 was a banner year for Rosalía at the Latin GRAMMY Awards: She brought home her first Latin GRAMMYs at the ceremony — both for "Malamente," the first single off of her second album, El Mal Querer.

In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, let's turn back the clock to that big night in November at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, and revisit the moment when Rosalía's name was called as the winner of a Latin GRAMMY in the Best Urban/Fusion Performance category. 

The visibly stunned singer gradually made her way to the stage amid audience applause, and when she arrived at the podium, she was quick to thank those who helped her shape her sound.

"This is incredible. It's like a dream," she told the crowd in Spanish. "Thank you for all the love. Thank you for all this recognition."

Of course, fans and family were foremost on the list of people that Rosalía mentioned in her acceptance speech. Still, she also made special mention of some musical acts who've come before her.

Specifically, she wanted to thank the female artists across all genres who have inspired her, over the course of her career, to make music on her own terms. "I take pride in always leading in my projects and making music that represents me — taking risks, and sharing it with the world, and being here," Rosalía reflected.

"I want to thank women like Lauryn Hill, WondaGurl, Björk, Kate Bush, Ali Tamposi, Ninja," she went on to list. "All the women in the industry who've taught me that it can be done, because I'm here because of them. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. For real."

Press play above to watch Rosalía's full acceptance speech, and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com every Friday for more episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.

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Behind The Board: Alex Kline Traces Her Journey To Becoming An In-Demand Nashville Producer And Songwriter

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Behind The Board: Alex Kline Traces Her Journey To Becoming An In-Demand Nashville Producer And Songwriter

The Nashville-based songwriter and producer explains why working on music behind the scenes with an artist is her "happy place," and discusses the song she produced that made history at country radio.

GRAMMYs/Sep 30, 2022 - 06:59 pm

Songwriter and producer Alex Kline is one of the most in-demand collaborators in Nashville's country music industry today — but she says her career actually started when she fell in love with a Red Hot Chili Peppers hit.

"I picked up the guitar when I was 13 because I heard "Under the Bridge" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and something about that guitar intro made me wanna learn how to play guitar," Kline explains in the newest interview of Behind the Board.

Those early interests ultimately led her to Nashville, where she began to work with country legends like Ronnie Dunn and Reba McEntire as well as the younger generation of country stars, such as Mitchell Tenpenny, Cassadee Pope and Meghan Patrick. Her work with Tenille Arts, on Arts' single "Somebody Like That," even led her to a historic No. 1 hit on the Mediabase Country Music charts.

"We actually made history as the first all-female team to have a No. 1," Kline continues. "I was the first solo female producer in country music to have a No. 1. Which is kinda crazy, that it took until 2021 to have a female do that."

Kline says she loves the collaborative work that goes into producing an artist's music. "That's really my happy place — developing with an artist and creating the sound, going from the ground all the way up," she explains, adding that she's even learned to embrace compromise over the course of her career.

"I'll usually have an idea of something, and I'll think that a certain song sounds perfect, and then the artist will say, 'Oh, I want...' something that's maybe 10 percent different than what I would hear. And I sometimes don't necessarily at first think that they're right, but then I always usually come around," Kline continues.

"I think it's just good to be open and flexible," she adds with a laugh, "and as a producer, remember that it's the artist's name on the project, and not my name in big letters with my picture on it. So they have to be in love with it."

Press play on the video above to learn more about Kline's journey towards being a Nashville songwriter and producer, and keep checking GRAMMY.com for more episodes of Behind the Board.

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Everything We Know About Paramore’s New Album, 'This Is Why'
Hayley Williams of Paramore

Photo: C Flanigan / Contributor

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Everything We Know About Paramore’s New Album, 'This Is Why'

Five years after the release of their last studio album, Paramore will embark on an intimate North American tour before dropping their highly anticipated new album, 'This Is Why.' Here’s everything to know about the new album, out on Feb. 10, 2023.

GRAMMYs/Sep 30, 2022 - 04:30 pm

Paramore fans are used to waiting a while between records, but the five-year break following After Laughter is the longest hiatus the band has taken since its inception.

Luckily, the wait for new music from their faves was coming to an end.

When the group’s website and social media profile photos were updated in early September, fans went hunting for clues about new music — and they weren’t disappointed. Paramore lead singer Hayley Williams, guitarist Taylor York and drummer Zac Farro had planted a few online Easter eggs to tease the release of "This Is Why" — the title track for their forthcoming album.

Then on Sept. 28, the group surprised fans by announcing the release date for their new album and dropping the single concurrently with a new music video. "It was the very last song we wrote for the album. To be honest, I was so tired of writing lyrics, but Taylor convinced Zac and I both that we should work on this last idea. What came out of it was the title track for the whole album," Williams said in a statement. "It summarizes the plethora of ridiculous emotions, the rollercoaster of being alive in 2022, having survived even just the last three or four years."

Ahead of their upcoming tour — which begins Oct. 2 in California and ends Nov. 19 in Mexico — here are four things to know about Paramore’s forthcoming album, This Is Why, out on Feb. 10, 2023. 

The Band Has Been Teasing A Comeback For A While

In an interview with NME in May 2020, Williams hinted at the band’s next era. "We’ve thought about [the next Paramore album]," she said. "Taylor’s mentioned things like: ‘Oh, God – I miss guitars. We’ve found ourselves listening to a lot of older music that we grew up being inspired by. T and I liked stuff that was a bit more ratty sounding: The Rapture, Yeah Yeah Yeahs. All three of us loved Queens Of The Stone Age’s Songs For The Deaf."

In a July 2022 interview with Music Connection, GRAMMY-winning mixing engineer Manny Marroquin revealed that Paramore’s new album, also called P6 by fans, had been completed.The news spread through social media like wildfire. 

Two months later, the group kicked off the promo cycle by posting a range of cryptic dates on their website, causing fans to channel their inner Sherlock to decipher the clues — 9.1 discord, 9.7 blank, 9.9 wr0ng, 9.12 LA, 9.16 - pre-save t.i.w., 9.19 - NY and 9.28. Each clue represented a mini-milestone for the band’s new era, including the launch of a new Discord, the wiping of their social media pages to signal a new era, fall concert dates, a preview of the new single, and updated profile pics on social media.   

The Trio Will Return To Their Guitar-Driven Roots

This Is Why will be a return to Paramore's rock roots — but not the emo-pop-rock sound first heard on their 2005 debut, All We Know Is Falling. (On a recent episode of her new podcast "Everything Is Emo," Williams revealed that the indie rock band Bloc Party played an integral role in helping Paramore figure out the energy of their music.)

With Williams’ signature belt and a riffy, rocking chorus, "This Is Why" is a bit of a departure from the band’s synth-pop and new-wave-infused 2017 effort, After Laughter. The track bears a bit of a resemblance to some of the ‘80s pop heard on Williams’ solo album, Petals for Armor," leaving fans to speculate about whether or not the group will ever return to the rock sound that brought them initial success. However, Paramore has gone on record about their intentions to get back to guitar-driven music, so other songs on P6 may lean further into their rock roots than the title track.

But change can be good, and experimenting with new sounds can yield magic — as was the case with After Laughter, which itself was a sonic departure from their eclectic 2013 self-titled album. According to Williams, experimentation is essential because it keeps things fresh. The singer told Rolling Stone that the band was pleasantly surprised by the album’s production process and had no plans to make a carbon copy of their previous material.

"The music we were first excited by wasn’t exactly the kind of music we went on to make," Williams said. "Our output has always been all over the place, and with this project, it’s not that different. We’re still in the thick of it, but some things have remained consistent from the start. 1) More emphasis back on the guitar, and 2) Zac should go as Animal as he wants with drum takes."

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For P6, Paramore reunited with longtime collaborator Carlos De la Garza, who previously produced the band’s self-titled album, After Laughter, and Williams’ solo projects Petals for Armor and Flowers For Vases/descansos. (Fun fact: De la Garza is the father of two members of the LA-based punk band the Linda Lindas — guitarist Lucia and drummer Mila — who count Paramore among their music heroes.)

To ensure a cohesive sonic experience for This Is Why, the trio recruited 11-time GRAMMY-winning mixer Manny Marroquin, who has mixed tracks for Kanye West, Lizzo, Rihanna, Megan Thee Stallion, and Selena Gomez, among others. 

The Group May Play New Music On Their Fall Concert Tour

In October, the trio is hitting the road for a limited fall tour through North America, and there’s a possibility that they’ll preview some new music for fans in attendance. This time around, the GRAMMY-winning rockers are skipping the arenas in favor of cozier venues to provide fans with a more intimate experience — and they’re taking a few up-and-coming bands along for the ride, including Young the Giant and Japanese Breakfast.

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