I stumbled across Maía (that’s Ma-EE-a, not Ma-ya) while looking for popular champeta artists to highlight. Maía is not a champeta artist. She just sang a song with a popular champeta artist and then made a dance music video. I saw the video on a champeta Facebook page and thought, “This isn’t the typical stuff; what else does she do?” As I fell down the Google rabbit-hole, I learned that she is from the town where I live and knew immediately that I needed to feature her!
Maía is a 33 year-old from a neighborhood between me and Barranquilla who got her big break at the age of 15 when she won a contest that Sony put on called “Colombia suena bien” (Colombia Sounds Good). While that win in 1998 got her a record deal, her first album wasn’t released until 2004. The double-platinum single from that album was the title song, Niña Bonita. This video was recorded about 10 years after the single release; it didn’t originally have any rapping at the beginning.
Overall, I would call Maía’s music Latin pop. She has some salsa rhythms, she throws in some vallenato accordian sometimes, and some cumbia gaita other times. She stays true to her roots without taking on any one genre over the others. In a press interview earlier this year, Maía spoke of her 2012 release Instinto saying that it was much more romantic and didn’t stay close to her Caribbean roots. I checked out the top single from that album (“No quererte“) and found it to be boring and bland. But her second single, “Antídoto” does still have that percussion that I’ve become accustomed to in the music here. The video was apparently filmed in Galapa, a municipio south of mine (I had to find that out because while I didn’t recognize any of the locations in the video, it looked like familiar landscape).
This year’s release, a self-titled album, is a big embrace of Caribbean rhythms, but is still far more poppy than what you normally hear out and about.
The video for “Esta noche hay fiesta” was shot in Bogotá and makes me want to travel to that neighborhood immediately.
Finally, I leave you with the video that first led me to Maía, a little champeta-infused number called “¿Tú qué traes?” I’ll be posting more champeta in the future, but this is just a little little sip of that afro-Colombian style.
Unrelated note: while I was writing this, Youtube started playing an advertisement…in Arabic! A) Cool but B) I didn’t know the population of Arabic-speaking people would be large enough here to warrant that investment.