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Halbert Barton

was born on 18 June 1937 in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and raised in the neighborhood of Bélgica, the hotbed of the southern tradition of traditional Puerto Rican bomba, la bomba sureña. The life of “Doña Isa” connected the few thriving family-based bomba communities of the 1940s–1960s to the municipal bombazos of the 2000s. As a girl she used to accompany her mother, Teresa Dávila, and father, Domingo Albizu, to the regional bomba competitions between the communities of Felix Alduén in Mayaguez and William Archevald in Ponce, from the early 1940s to the early 1970s (Lasalle, 2014). These friendly rivalries had an enormous ripple effect on the development of bomba outside the San Juan metro area in the latter half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first.

While Afro Puerto Rican bomba music and dance has suffered marginalization since its inception in early colonial times ...


María Soledad Romero

also known as “el alma de Puerto Rico hecha canción” (the soul of Puerto Rico made song), a Puerto Rican singer and senator of Afro-Hispanic descent, was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, on 23 May 1919 to Santiago Fernández (of Spanish descent) and Rosa María Cortada, daughter of Rafael Cortada, an immigrant from Asturias, Spain, and Adela Quiñones, an artisan of African descent. Her mother died when she was just 6 years old. She was the youngest of five sisters raised by her maternal grandmother, doña Adela.

According to Fernández Cortada, doña Adela had the greatest influence during the sisters’ formative years. She has described her grandmother as an intelligent woman who was a respected traditional spiritual healer in their community. Adela took great interest in Ruth’s education as she was a well-bred economically emancipated skilled dressmaker or modista catering to upper class clients The moment Ruth showed a ...