SANTIAGO – To stay at home is an act of solidarity during the pandemic. Still, the confinement causes a range of bad feelings. A cumbia written by an 88-year-old grandmother might be the best tonic against the negativity.
Marujita is 88 years old and lives in Ñuñoa in the east part of Santiago. She’s a grandmother interested in tarot and other things. One day during confinement, she woke up with a song on her mind. She wrote it down and named it Cumbia del Encierro (Cumbia in confinement).
The song found its way to Beto Cuevas, former leader of Chilean band La Ley. He received a message through his sister, who knew Marujita and had called to see how Marujita was doing, and Marujita “told her that she was very enthusiastic, very motivated despite what is happening, and [also] told her she had been painting and ‘I also composed a cumbia.’ And she sent a WhatsApp recording to my sister and my sister sent it to me,” Cuevas explains to Canal 13 from his home in Los Angeles, California.
To approach the song, Cuevas had to leave his comfort zone. Until now he had dedicated his career to guitar-based rock and pop music, and had never been close to recording any cumbia tunes. Nevertheless, the song by the grandmother in confinement excited him. He started with the production and invited his Argentinian friends in Los Auténticos Decadentes, who happened to be one of grandma Marujita’s favorite bands. The result is a positive and rhythmic hit – an invitation to leave the stress, loneliness, anguish, and fear behind. It’s a cumbia that warms the heart.
Cuevas describes the production as an “outbreak of creativity from an 88-year-old girl. An 88-year-old person who comes to teach those of us who are younger that it is necessary to have a good spirit and try to have a good time in whatever circumstances.” The income from licensing fees will be donated to Fundacion Las Rosas and its work for the dignity of elderly people in vulnerable situations.
Cuevas joined La Ley in the late ’80s. The band was influenced by British new wave groups like Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, The Cure, and The Smiths. The band had a successful career during the ’90s all over the Americas, with albums like Invisible and MTV Unplugged, which sold over a million copies and included hits like the unplugged version of El Duelo with Mexican singer Ely Guerra.
Marcus Nilsson writes about music in Chile Today. He worked in Sweden as a copywriter, editor, teacher and blogger. You can find him on Instagram as @chileanmusic30min