Latin American Dance News

Michel El Buenón Secures Top Honor at the 2024 Barranquilla Carnival

Dominican Salsa Sensation Triumphs Abroad

In a vibrant display of musical talent and cultural exchange, Dominican salsa artist Michel El Buenón was awarded the top honor for a foreign artist at the 2024 Barranquilla Carnival in Colombia. This accolade cements his status as a masterful performer and an unparalleled ambassador of Dominican salsa music.

The “Congo de Oro” award, bestowed upon Michel El Buenón, recognizes the best musical groups at the Carnival’s Orchestra Festival and pays tribute to his musical journey spanning over four decades. El Buenón has emerged as a pioneering figure in the genre and a proud representative of his homeland, leading the contemporary wave of Dominican salsa.

Upon receiving the award, El Buenón expressed gratitude towards the Colombian people, Dominicans, and fans across Latin America for their support over these forty years. He dedicated a special thanks to Cuco Valoy, another recipient of the award, for paving the way for many Dominicans in the industry.

“Thank you to God and my people from Colombia and all of Latin America, but most especially to the Dominican Republic, my flag, my country, my people, my everything. Here I have the Congo de Oro, following so many legends like Cuco Valoy. Thank you, Cuco, for opening doors for so many Dominicans,” he remarked.

Dressed in a festive shirt and white trousers, El Buenón accepted the Congo de Oro with clear joy and tears in his eyes, following his remarkable performance that garnered widespread support from the judges and audience alike, along with countless congratulatory messages from Afro-Latin music fans.

During his performance at the event, El Buenón, accompanied by his orchestra, captivated the Colombian crowd, who sang along without pause to his hits. The artist not only showcased his vocal power and range but also delivered a performance brimming with flavor, energy, dance, happiness, intensity, and stage presence.

Born in Batey 7, in the southern region of his country, Michel El Buenón grew up in an area known for its sugar cane, salt, and gypsum mining, as well as coffee, fishing, and banana activities between Barahona and Neyba. At eight years old, he won a children’s festival on the local Radio Barahona and later moved to the nation’s capital seeking better opportunities. His musical journey took him from singing in church choirs and bars to traveling the world as a merchant seaman, eventually leading him to Paris where he was discovered after a performance. This pivotal moment in his life led to a career-defining opportunity to perform alongside Charles Aznavour.

The Carnival Experience

The Barranquilla Carnival stands as Colombia’s most significant folkloric and cultural festival, transforming the city annually into a hub for folkloric, dance, and musical expressions that encapsulate the joy of both locals and visitors. It showcases emblematic traditions reflecting the memory and identity of the Barranquilla community, the Colombian Caribbean, and the Magdalena River region.

In 2003, UNESCO declared the Barranquilla Carnival a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity,” further solidifying its status after the Colombian Congress named it a “Cultural Heritage of the Nation” in 2001. This festival continues to be a pivotal event, celebrating the rich cultural tapestry of Colombia and the wider Latin American region.

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