Gondwana: Miami Creates a Space for Latin Reggae
Originally formed in 1987 in Santiago, Chile, Gondwana has remained one of the most successful Latin reggae bands in the game. But some might ask, what exactly is Latin reggae? As Bob Marley’s music took the world by storm in the 1970s, reggae music’s socially conscious philosophies spread to various areas of Latin America, becoming quite popular in Afro-Caribbean regions. Latin reggae artists convey the socially conscious messages of roots reggae in their music, but do so in their native languages of Spanish or Portuguese. Latin reggae also has a stylistic and cultural twist that infuses musical elements from various regions of Latin American into the reggae rhythms themselves.
As Latin reggae has grown more popular, Gondwana has experienced a spike in its appearances. Since the beginning of 2011, the group recorded their latest album, Pincoya Calipso, and has toured extensively throughout the Americas, showcasing new addition MC Jona as lead singer. Since 2003, Gondwana has undergone several changes in their lead singer, especially after Quique Neira left the group to pursue a solo career. Though Maxi Vargas was briefly featured as lead vocalist, he, too, left the group to pursue other projects. Despite such changes, Gondwana has prevailed as one of the leading Latin reggae bands.
Gondwana was scheduled to play at Bayside Rocks Festival, which would have marked the group’s first time performing in Miami. However, due to unforeseen circumstances with two of the headliners, the festival was postponed. Although disappointment was likely felt among scheduled performers and excited fans, it did not stop Gondwana or the Inity team from enjoying the beautiful day on Hollywood Beach.
Just as the Inity team was taking a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk, Gondwana happened to be sitting together on a concrete bench. Without hesitation, Inity team members took advantage of the chance encounter with Gondwana and excitedly introduced themselves to the group they were originally scheduled to interview at Bayside! Though not a full-fledged interview, band members graciously engaged in conversation with Inity about their tour which includes stops in Los Angeles and San Francisco. After a brief stint in the USA, Gondwana will be preparing for a four-city run in Mexico where the group will team up with two other well-known Latin reggae bands, Los Cafres (Argentina) and Cultura Profetica (Puerto Rico).
When asked where they have found the strongest following, members of Gondwana without hesitation spoke very highly of Argentina. In fact, it was in Buenos Aires where Gondwana recorded its first live DVD and CD live in 2010. Band members unanimously expressed their gratitude for such a welcoming Argentine crowd.
Despite the postponement of Bayside Rocks Festival, Inity was left uplifted after the beach encounter with Gondwana and the humble, yet positive demeanor that was felt from the band members. If you like the sound of roots reggae, rock and Latin rhythms, Gondwana is not a band to be overlooked! Be sure to check out Gondwana’s latest album, Pincoya Calipso, which features a combination of new songs and re-released versions of some of their greatest hits such as “Armonia de Amor” and “Sentimiento Original.” Gondwana is also featured on a Bob Marley tribute album where they cover “Could You Be Loved” and “Concrete Jungle.” - Gabriela Barbosa
For an introductory taste of Latin reggae, check out Putumayo’s Latin Reggae compilation which features Los Cafres, Cultural Profetica and Gondwana!