Quechua is not only the language that the Incas made official throughout their empire more than half a century ago, it is also the most widely spoken indigenous language left in the Americas today.
Nearly 8 million people speak Quechua, over half of which are in Peru. It holds such importance today that Peru has recently created a news network entirely in the language. The region of Cusco has even made it mandatory to teach Quechua in schools from primary to university levels.
Peru is fortunate enough to have many artists and musicians who include the language in their work. Here are 3 internationally-known musicians from the Andean country who have helped to bring the language to a wider audience.
Anthropologist Sylvia Falcón is one of the most innovative Peruvian singers of the modern age. Born of parents originally from Ayacucho and Huancavelica, she has become internationally recognized while spreading her Andean roots and language throughout the world. Here is a powerful rendition of Peru’s national anthem interpreted into Quechua by this marvelous soprano.
Magaly Solier might be more well known as an actress than a recording artist thanks to her roles in the La Teta Asustada (marketed in English as The Milk of Sorrow) and Madeinusa. However, this Ayacucho native is also a skilled vocalist and recording artist who frequently sings in America’s most spoken indigenous language. Here is one of her tracks from Cultura Viva on Youtube.
The youngest of our 3 featured singers at 16-years-old, Renata Flores Rivera became a Youtube sensation in 2015 with her Quechua version of Michael Jackson’s “The way you make me feel.” Another Ayacucho native, Renata appears to be on her way to a highly successful musical career. She is also the leading figurehead for the new wave of singers who will help to keep the indigenous language alive for yet another generation.
Cover photo: El Comercio
This article has been updated from its original publication on August 1, 2017.
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