Cumbia is a mixture of Spanish and African music, the latter brought by slaves. In the 19th century, slavery was abolished and Africans, Indians and other ethnic groups mixed more fully. Styles like bambuco, vallenato and porro was especially influential. When the waltz became popular in the 19th century, a Colombian version called pasillo was invented. International Latin, a type of pop ballad, and salsa music are best-represented by Charlie Zaa and Joey Arroyo, respectively.
Cumbia is a complex, rhythmic music which arose on Colombia's Atlantic coast. In its original form, cumbia bands included only percussion and vocals; modern groups include saxophones, trumpets, keyboards and trombones as well. It evolved out of native and African influences, combining both traditions. Some observers have claimed that the dance originally associated with cumbia arose as a depiction of an African man courting a native woman, while others point to the shuffling footwork as a survival from African slaves attempting to dance while fettered by iron chains around the ankle. Still others believe it is a direct import from Guinea, which has a popular cumbe dance form.
Cumbia's form was solidifed in the 1940s when it spread from the rural countryside to urban and middle-class audiences. Mamba, big band and porro brass band influences were combined by artists like Lucho Bermudez to form a refined form of cumbia that soon entered the Golden Age of Cumbia during the 1950s. Disco Fuentes, the largest and most influential record label in the country, was founded during this time. Fruko, known as the Godfather of Salsa, introduced Cuban salsa to Colombia and helped bring Discos Fuentes to national prominence by finding artists like La Sonora Dinamitra, who brought cumbia to Mexico, where it remains popular.
Salsa music was born among Cubans in New York City and Puerto Rico, and soon spread to Colombia, popularized by Fruko and Discos Fuentes. Artists like Joe Arroyo followed, inventing a distinctively Colombian form of salsa called musica tropical. Other influential Colombian salsa musicians include Grupo Niche, Alkimia, La Misma Gente, Los Titanes, Los Nemus del Pacifico, Orquesta Guayacan and Grupo Galeé.
Champeta and African music
Colombian has some communities, such as El Choco, Cartagena and Providence Island, have large African communities descended from slaves. Unlike most of the country, cultural mixing with native and European influences have been rare, and, especially in El Choto, music has changed little since being imported from West Africa. Providence Island is also home to a type of folk music which is closly related to mento, a Jamaican folk form. Most influentially, however, is the city of Cartagena and its champeta music which has been influenced by soukous, compas and ragga. Champeta musicians have included Luis Towers, El Pupy and Boogaloo, while others, like Elio Boom, have incorporated Jamaican raggamuffin music to champeta.
Musica de la interior
Musica de la interior is an indigenous form of music also known as bambuco. Its popularity has long been limited, but was extremely popular across Colombia from the mid-1920s to the late 1930s. Artists include Estudiantina, Jaime Llano González and the Morales Pino Trio.
Porro bands is an enthusiastic form of big band music that came from Sucre, Cordoba and Savanna de Bolivar. The brass ensembles are modelled after European military bands. Influential porros include Banda de 11 Enero, La Sonora Cienaguera, Orquesta Climaco Sarmiento and Pedro Laza y sus Pelayeros.
Musica llanera is a harp-led form of music from Los Llanos is popular throughout Colombia, and is known for verbal contests called contrapunteo. Past artists include Alfredo Ronaldo Ortiz, Alma Llanera, Cimarron, Luis Ariel Rey, Carlos Rojas, Sabor Llanero and Orlando Valdemarra.
Vallenato arose in Valledupar on Colombia's Atlantic Coast and only gained popularity elsewhere in the country in the 1980s. Its origins are shrouded in mystery but are said to have begun with Francisco el Hombre, who allegedly defeated Satan in a musical contest. Based around the accordion, vallenato has long been connected with cumbia. Influential artists include Alejo Duran and, more recently, Alfredo Gutierrez and Lisandro Meza. In addition to the accordion, the bass guitar has been a common part of vallenato ensembles since it was introduced by Caliya in the mid-1960s. The most recent modernization of vallenato occurred in 1993 when Carlos Vives released Clasicos de la Provincia, which made him into a star and changed the face of vallenato.
Vallenato has spawned several subgenres, including vallenato-protesta, which is known for socially aware lyrics, and charanga vallenata, which was invented by Cubans in the United States like progenitor Roberto Torres.
In the late 1950s, Mexican rock artists like Enrique Guzmán and Cesar Costa became very popular in Colombia. Soon, native rock bands like Los Speakers gained a wide following. Starting in 1967 (see 1967 in music), native bands like Genesis (unrelated to the more famous band of the same name) fused native musical forms (like cumbia) with rock.