On Dec. 4, the sound of drumming and singing will fill the air across the Caribbean and Latin America, and in neighborhoods here in the States where there are practitioners of African diasporic religious traditions, often called “Santeria,” but more properly “La Regla de Ocha” or Lukumi. Because forbidden African religious and spiritual practices were masked behind Catholicism during enslavement, African deities were and are still celebrated on specific "saint's days." In the case of Dec. 4, that saint is Saint Barbara, who is the public face of Changó (or Shango or Sàngó), the Yoruba deity of fire and thunder, drums, and dance. This Catholic syncretism differs in Brazil, where Saint Barbara is syncretised with Iansã, the goddess of winds and storms.
I took a deep dive into the history and meanings of Changó back in 2011, in “¡Qué viva Changó!: West African deities in the Americas,” and have explored some of the music here in this series in “Afro-Latinas sing to the santos, the ancestors, and the culture.”
Join me today in listening to the rich music, singing, drumming, and viewing the accompanied dancing and celebrations for Changó. You don’t have to know Spanish or Yoruba to get into the groove!
”Black Music Sunday” is a weekly series highlighting all things Black music. With more than 180 stories covering performers, genres, history, and more, each featuring its own vibrant soundtrack. I hope you’ll find some familiar tunes and perhaps an introduction to something new.