Meet the Artist: Afro-Andean Funk

The Meet The Artist series highlights amazing and talented performing arts professionals from diverse backgrounds. We’re back with this month’s featured artist. We encourage you to watch these videos with an open mind, and to remember that starting a relationship with an artist can be something smaller than a mainstage show such as inviting them to lead a workshop, sit on a panel, or collaborate with an artist local to you. This month’s featured artist is Afro-Andean Funk.

Headshot of Araceli Poma and Matt Geraghty. Courtosey of Bill Wadman

2X Latin Grammy Nominated Afro-Andean Funk is a band led by Peruvian Singer Araceli Poma and American music producer/bassist Matt Geraghty. Their Afro-Andean roots music fused with world music and funk features themes of social struggle, shamanic rituals and indigenous Peruvian traditions. Their music aims at uniting musical cultures and bringing visibility to the Quechua language — the most widely spoken indigenous language in South America.

Afro-Andean Funk presents a selection of original songs paying homage to Poma’s Andean and Afro-Peruvian roots. Afro-Andean Funk will perform music from their two albums The Sacred Leaf and Flower on Fire reflecting the group’s deep love for music from a variety of styles and
places. Their music brings together a spectrum of traditional and modern musical styles from Peru and beyond such as afropop, huayno, electronica, drum and bass, funk, cumbia as well as hard rock.

Please take a moment to introduce yourself to our audience for those who may not know you.

Araceli Poma: Allinllachu Kachkanki. My name is Araceli Poma, and I was born and raised amidst the mountains of the Andes in Peru. From a young age, I learned to appreciate the richness of our traditions and the transformative power of music. As a cultural ambassador and singer, my mission has been to spread the vibrations of my roots worldwide, especially here in New York, where I found a new home in 2021.

Matt Geraghty, our bassist, composer, music producer, and co-leader of Afro-Andean Funk, is known for developing groundbreaking projects. He’s produced documentaries filmed in Peru, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Brazil, where he challenges stereotypes and champions gender equality in the music industry. Matt’s innovative approach has garnered him two Latin Grammy nominations, underscoring his dedication to pushing artistic boundaries and promoting cultural awareness through music.

Through Afro-Andean Funk, we explore new blends of Afro-Andean sounds with electronic and global funk, using music as a means for social change and cultural justice.

Photo of Afro-Andean Funk. (Photo Credit Stone Lyons)Matt and Araceli, you met while working on the Latin Grammy nominated documentary The Warrior Women of Afro-Peruvian Music. Can you tell us a bit more about how you met and what inspired you to begin working together on Afro-Andean Funk?

Matt: I met Araceli at a recording studio in Lima, Peru, where she was one of the guest singers invited for the project. Learning about her dedicated work with Peru’s diverse cultures was extraordinary, and her commitment to preserving musical traditions deeply impressed me.

Araceli: In 2021, I moved to New York to further my career as a singer and producer, and I suggest to Matt the idea of forming a band. Matt had been documenting traditional artists for many years, his work is incredible, and I felt we were very aligned from the beginning. I believed that together we could achieve something very important.

This is how Afro-Andean Funk was born, and soon Harvey Wirht from Suriname, Misha Tsiganov from Russia, and Jossie Garcia from Peru joined us.

In 2022, you were nominated again for a Latin Grammy, this time in the Best Alternative Music Album category. What does it mean to you to have received these nominations? Has there been an impact on your career since this accolade or is it life as usual?

Araceli: The nomination was very valuable to me because it helps bring visibility to a little-known culture through my music, where I also sing about injustices. This album was significant because it features songs written in Quechua, the indigenous language of my grandparents. My grandmother is an Andean woman who faced discrimination for speaking Quechua; she taught me to be proud of my roots. So, sharing these stories following our nomination was very important, not only for us as a band but for Peruvian culture as well.

This is one of the toughest categories, and we feel very proud that our debut album was nominated. Receiving this nomination means was a validation for us to continue working with passion and honesty. It has definitely had an positive impact on our careers, and we are honored to have received it. Yet we also know this is a career that requires a lot of perseverance, so we keep looking forward.

This month, you will be performing twice in Ontario! First at Sunfest in London (July 5th - 6th) and then at Kultrun Festival in Waterloo (July 12th - 14th). Is there anything that you are most looking forward to during these performances? Any song you particularly are looking forward to playing?

Araceli: I’m really looking forward to introducing the audience to Afro-Peruvian music and the rhythms we’re preparing. I’ll be singing some songs in Quechua, and I’m excited to promote my grandparents’ indigenous language.

Matt: We’re putting a lot of effort into these concerts. The combination of Araceli’s Afro-Andean music with each of our backgrounds is fascinating. I think it brings a lot of freshness to the tradition without losing its roots. We can’t wait to be on stage

Is there anything else that you would like to share? Do you have any upcoming work that we should look out for?

Matt: It’s an important year for Afro-Andean Funk; we’ll be in Canada, New Mexico, New York, Atlanta, and other significant cities. We’re developing the music for our next album and will bring many updates, so you can follow us on our Instagram: @AfroAndean_Funk. Thank you very much for the interview.

Keep up to date with Afro-Andean Funk on social media: