On Friday around 1:30pm I was sitting with a few other Peace Corps Volunteers at a restaurant eating lunch. Suddenly we realized that the restaurant was getting crowded with people watching the television. Big news had just broken: vallenato star Martín Elías had died after a major car crash earlier that day.
I immediately realized that this was going to have the same effect that the death – almost a year ago – of my Minneapolis’s beloved pop icon Prince.
While I haven’t yet heard about any 3-day dance party, there is currently a massive concert being played in and televised from Valledupar, the birthplace of vallenato and Martín Elías himself.
Born Díaz Acosta just under 27 years ago, he was born into the vallenato limelight: his father is the renowned Diomedes Díaz, the one icon of the genre that is mos revered. Even his name was a prediction of his future; he was named for his uncle, an accordionist (if this is confusing and you need some background on the genre, refer to this post).
Although he was young, Martín Elías had been in the game for years, thanks to his familial connections. He was loved by so many for his new-wave songs, for being a direct line to the people’s beloved Diomedes, for his truly adorable smile and good-nature on stage. His death serves as another reminder that life is short, so let’s live it up and be the best we can be as long as we’re here.