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Perceptions of authenticity in the performance of Cuban popular music in the United Kingdom: ‘Globalized incuriosity’ in the promotion and reception of uK-based Charanga del Norte’s music since 1998

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Drawing on my own experiences both as a performer and researcher of Cuban music, this article challenges the essentialism inherent in much promotion of ‘Latin’ music in the United Kingdom today, illustrating how issues of ethnicity and gender affect perceptions of authenticity by means of a case study of Charanga del Norte, a UK-grown Cuban music dance band, over the last fifteen years. Since its inception, my band has featured musicians from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. Additionally, Charanga del Norte features more female musicians than most UK Latin bands. As I show, most promoters marketing the group have tended towards exoticization, using essentialized images of Latin culture, with an emphasis on not just the Cuban but all the Latin American members of the band. This meant the group was originally promoted as a northern UK-based salsa band, although audiences and promoters gradually became more aware of other forms of traditional Cuban music as a result of the Buena Vista Social Club phenomenon. Promotion of us at World Music events has taken a slightly different stance and focussed more on publicizing the African roots of our ‘Afro-Cuban’ music
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Anglia Ruskin University

Publication date: 01 April 2013

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  • The Journal of European Popular Culture investigates the creative cultures of Europe, present and past. Exploring European popular imagery, media, new media, film, music, art and design, architecture, drama and dance, fine art, literature and the writing arts, and more, the journal is also of interest to those considering the influence of European creativity and European creative artefacts worldwide.
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