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21 Days of Musica Latina: Peru

Sofia Kourtesis
Courtesy of the artist
Sofia Kourtesis

Editor's Note: To commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month this year, World Cafe is going on a musical tour of Latin America. Every weekday from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, we'll spotlight the music of a different Latin American country with a curated playlist of essential tracks, fresh voices and wild cards.

Earlier this week, we scaled the Andes exploring its influence on the music of Chile, but the mountain range extends much further north. The unmistakable sound of Peruvian pan flutes and percussion instruments like the wankara are all over today's mix.

There's folkloric forebearers like Juaneco y Su Combo. Then there's bands like Los Mirlos, who have infused cumbia with their psychedelic, Amazon-inspired energy.

Afro-Peruvian musical traditions are in the spotlight too with the music of artists like Arturo "Zambo" Cavero and Susana Baca.

Baca's popularity outside of Peru skyrocketed when David Byrne's Luaka Bop label included her song "Maria Lando" on The Soul of Black Peru compilation record. Her contributions to Peruvian music have been so outsized that she became Peru's Minister of Culture in 2011.

There's lots of exciting pop and dance music in the mix too. Lima-born and Berlin-based producer Sofia Kourtesis' debut album, Madres, is out Oct. 27.

Enjoy, and make sure you come back tomorrow to find out where World Cafe's headed next.

Copyright 2023 XPN

Miguel Perez
Miguel Perez is a radio producer for NPR's World Cafe, based out of WXPN in Philadelphia. Before that, he covered arts, music and culture for KERA in Dallas. He reported on everything from the rise of NFTs in the music industry to the enduring significance of gay and lesbian bars to the LGBTQ community in North Texas.
Byron Gonzalez
Guatemalan born and Los Angeles raised, Byron Gonzalez graduated from California State University, Northridge with a Bachelor's in journalism, with an emphasis on broadcast. Shortly thereafter, Gonzalez became the program director of Los Angeles' only 24-hour Latin Alternative radio station, The Latin Alt ( He's also a Latin Roots correspondent for NPR's World Cafe program. He has dedicated his career to highlighting a wide selection of music from established, emerging and independent artists with roots in Latin America, Brazil and Spain.