Close-knit ‘Bomba con Buya’ group brings sacred music to Chicago

Hispanic Heritage Month

CHICAGO — It’s a sacred musical tradition dating back hundreds of years.  

The thrilling “Bomba” tradition combines Afro-Puerto Rican drums with folkloric dancing and singing.  

Practicing this cultural tradition in Chicago is an ensemble known as, “Bomba con Buya.”  This remarkable group of men and women performs across the country and the world.

Stylized movements and percussion are the irresistible allure of this colorful tradition, the power of the drums, drawing you in.   

“You can find a sense of freedom and liberation thru playing this music,” said Ruben Gerena, one “Bomba’s” talented drummers. 

“There’s a powerful force, you feel something special when you’re performing,” according to Lauren Brooks.  The name, “Bomba Con Buya,” translating into “Bomba with Noise.”  

And this close-knit group certainly brings the noise whenever they hit the stage. The interaction between lead drummer and singer taking center stage.     

“It’s not something that’s not choreographed it’s improvised,” Lauren Brooks said, “So it’s a beautiful experience.”

The roots of Bomba found fertile ground in Puerto Rico, brought to the island by West African Slaves.

“This is the music of resistance,” Brooks said.  “A music that was not always accepted.”      

“Many of our ancestors, this was the music they used to communicate,” Genera says.  “The music was a way to free themselves.”

Social Justice and community relationships, a key component of the groups identity. Bomba con Buya will be performing online Saturday.

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