Fronted by singer Karla Kanora, Rio Mira is an exciting recording collaboration between artists from neighbouring Ecuador and Colombia. Their debut album, released on a ZZK's sub label AYA Records is produced by Iván Benavides (involved in Latin Grammy-winning groups like Choq Quib Town andLos Giateros de San Jacinto) and Ivis Flies (producer of Latin Grammy-winning social heritage project De Taitas y Mamas) and is guided by the distinctive percussive tones of the marimba, an all-important ingredient of this socially conscious project.
Based out of the coastal town of Esmeraldas in Ecuador, the project organisers are also developing a festival aiming to shift the negative attitudes toward Afro-Ecuadorian music, a multi-pronged initiative channelling the region’s UNESCO-recognised musical history. A symbol of the border-spanning, Afro-Pacific identity, the marimba’s story is closely intertwined with that of the escaped slaves, known as maroons, who made the region their home from the early 16th century onward. Channelling that history of self-realised liberation, there’s a celebratory feeling to the music that’s tangible. In the carefully preserved tradition of the marimba, there’s a joyous feeling that’s infectious.