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Arts & Culture

Puerto Rico's Devastation Permeates Plena

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Finally today, we've been talking about the toll of last year's hurricanes on Puerto Rico, and it's everywhere, even in the music on the streets.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIENTO DE AGUA'S PERFORMANCE OF "PARA UN PLENERO")

MARTIN: That's the singing and drumming of Hector Tito Matos and some members of his group, Viento de Agua, or Wind of Water. What you're hearing is a classical Puerto Rican musical genre called Plena.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIENTO DE AGUA'S PERFORMANCE OF "PARA UN PLENERO")

MARTIN: What we have is that locomotive kind of pattern that, you know, at the end, nobody can resist.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIENTO DE AGUA'S PERFORMANCE OF "PARA UN PLENERO")

MARTIN: Plena is usually performed by three or more drummers and singers. The lyrics are usually about what's going on in everyday life, delivered by musicians who share information through song. This song is an old one called, "Para Un Plenero," or "For A Plenero," a requiem for a plenero who died.

Tito told us that the news of the death toll made him want to sing this the night we saw him perform.

HECTOR MATOS: So we were singing tonight for those who Maria took ahead of time.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIENTO DE AGUA'S PERFORMANCE OF "PARA UN PLENERO") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.