Calixto Ochoa, the legendary vallenato singer, accordionist and composer, passed away on Nov. 18 at his home in Sincelejo, Colombia, at the age of 81.
Born in the village of Valencia de Jesus in northern Colombia, Ochoa rose to popularity after joining the group Corraleros de Majagual in the ‘60s and appearing on many well-received releases for the great Discos Fuentes record label. Ochoa, best known for his work in the vallenato genre, also released the cumbia hit “El Africano” in 1984. Vallenato has origins in romantic ballads that, in turn, can be traced back to griot storytelling from West Africa. Vallenato emerged when the accordion was introduced to the Caribbean coast in the late 19th century. You can read more about the story of vallenato in our interview with ethnomusicologist Peter Wade. And below, hear the Calixto classic “Charanga Campesina”: