by Susana Baca
New York, NY - Newly elected Peruvian President Ollanta Humala has named Susana Baca Cultural Minister of Peru. The acclaimed singer is the first black Peruvian to be appointed to a Presidential cabinet. Ms. Baca will serve for a term of five years.
Commenting to Peruvian RPP radio, Baca reported, "I have a difficult year ahead of me, with many concerts, but I have always been interested in working for Peru," she said. "I will work to ensure that culture is not something that is only enjoyed by the people who can afford it, but that it be democratic, and that it reaches everyone and is inclusive."
Known world-wide as the voice of the Afro-Peruvian community, the 67-year-old Baca won a Latin Grammy in 2002 for the album Lamento Negro, which she recorded nearly two decades earlier in Cuba. Baca's most recent recording Afrodiaspora is a song cycle comprised of the various rhythms that the African diaspora is responsible for in places across the globe. Of her new release, music critic Jim Fusilli of the Wall Street Journal comments, "Susana Baca delivers what is likely the sweetest and most appealing lesson in ethnomusicology we'll ever enjoy."
Baca has been an outspoken advocate for the Afro-Peruvian community for decades. In 1987, she was named Cultural Ambassador of Goodwill for UNICEF Peru. She has served as a director and supporter of nonprofit cultural organizations, including her own Black Continuum Institute in the town of Chorrillo. The center's mission is to foster the collection, preservation, and creation of Afro-Peruvian culture, music, and dance.
In a statement, outgoing minister Juan Ossio Acuña expressed his support for Baca, saying "I cannot express my joy I feel knowing that you will be my successor." Fellow artists have been quick to share their support with Eva Ayllón adding "She is ideally suited for the job and will do it well." Tego Calderon also tweeted his support of the appointment.
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