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  • REBOLU: “Mi mulata” (My Mulatta)

    Camera: Nathan Godwin, Sujay Khona, Yijo Shen, Cara Taylor, Charlie Weber
    Editing: Nathan Godwin

    The fluttering sound of the gaita flute is emblematic of the Afro-Colombian community along the Atlantic and Caribbean coast. On July 1, that sound reverberated across the National Mall as REBOLU took the stage at the 2022 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

    The group, based in New York City, brought the music of the Black Atlantic to the D.C., performing songs off their new album from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Mi Herencia (My Heritage). Gaita player and ensemble co-founder Ronald Polo wrote “Mi mulata” (My Mulatta) for his eldest daughter and bandmate, Isabella, in the form of a chalupa, a faster variant of cumbia with call-and-response vocal melodies.

    On the day you were born
    (Look, Mulatta)
    The day turned blue
    And your mother suffered
    Her newborn smiled

    Oh Mulatta, my life
    Talented, day and night
    I love you, my queen

    You look so much alike
    It makes me melancholic
    Your mother’s beauty
    I drowned myself in melody

    Oh Mulatta, my life
    Talented, day and night
    I love you, my queen
    Oh Mulatta, in life

    Watch the full concert, also featuring Sunny Jain’s Wild Wild East. Find REBOLU online and their new album on Smithsonian Folkways.

    Lyric translation by Tia Merroto.

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