Colombia’s Palo Cruza’o is one of the most revered groups of its kind, created 30 years ago by Omar Fandiño to help popularize the folkloric sounds of the Eastern Colombian plains (called música llanera or joropo). For its artistry on the album En Armonías Colombianas (In Colombian Harmonies) the pioneering ensemble won a 2016 Latin Grammy in the “Best Folk Album” category.
The name Palo Cruza’o derives from the type of maraca (gourd-shaped rattle) that it uses as a percussion instrument and that represents the indigenous contribution to traditional music. The band was founded by two artists from Bogotá, three from Boyaca and one from Metense. Despite their different origins, all six strongly identified as children of the plains. Great masters of llanera music such as Giovanny López (one of the first voices), Wilton Gámez, William Castro, Ramón Torres and Juan Carlos Contreras are some of Paulo Cruzao’s most celebrated alumni.