LAS ALEGRES AMBULANCIAS iare an amazing band from the 500-year old cabildo/lumbalu tradition. In this Afro-Colombian tradition the singers accompanied by drummers mediate the duel that occurs between Death and the family members of the deceased. They sing to mitigate the pain of loss, to emotionally stabilize family and friends and bring closure. The name of the group explains the philosophy of the Afro-Colombians of Palenque in their relationship with death. Happiness (Alegres) is the vehicle (Ambulancias) of change from one state of being to another – in short life continues.
Las Alegres Ambulancias is no museum piece having been transformed from generation to generation, evolving with the community, its traditions, fiestas, funerals and daily life in general. Along with traditional singers and drummers the band incorporates electric guitar and bass into this living tradition.
Las Alegres Ambulancias are representative of the culture of Colombia’s Caribbean area. They are a living demonstration of how this 500-year-old African tradition is surviving in this globalized world. Led by vocalist Emelia ¨La Burgo¨ Reyes (daughter of the singer and drummer Graciela Salgado Valdez, legendary vocalist who founded and led the group until her passing in 2013) and accompanied by drummers and the singers of the the funeral council that are part of Las Alegres Ambulancias are masters of the oral tradition, keeping the Bantu and Angola languages alive in Colombia.
Singers both young and old preserve the legends, stories, music and songs that come from their African ancestry. The songs are in various styles, such as Lumbalu, Bullerengue, Chalupa, Sexteto, Pajanto, and Fandando, richly reflecting an important part of their Afro-Colombian roots.
Las Alegres Ambulancias has appeared at many events and festivals in Colombia, Latin America, Europe Canada and the US. The band has released five recordings in the last 10 years, two through Radio France and Ocora, two through OM Producciones Music International and one on their own label, the new Album CHIMANKONGO will be released on spring 2014 by OM.