Venezuela: The Rise of Afro-Venezuelan Music to the Present Day Hugo Chavez Era

Venezuela has the longest Caribbean coastline of any nation, and yet the vibrant African musical heritage thriving along that coast has been largely ignored by the nation’s media and music industry, and remains under-recognized internationally. That is now changing rapidly. Long sidelined as a realm of quaint relics and exotic folklore, Afro-Venezuelan culture is becoming a larger part of the national life of this petroleum-rich nation. The controversial Hugo Chávez Frías is Venezuela’s first president with acknowledged African heritage. His rise has triggered intense self-examination of Venezuela’s stark social and ethnic divisions, and a cultural renaissance as well. In this Hip Deep program, ethnomusicologist T.M. Scruggs guides us through the history and music behind the present upsurge in Afro-Venezuelan consciousness.