Inti-Illimani is the modern face of the Chilean Nueva Canción movement, a modern world music genre that celebrates a renewal of Latin American folk music in response to the dominance of American and European influence in Latin America during the 1970s and 1980s. After over forty albums, the group is celebrating fifty years of exploring human rights, imperialism, democracy and the Latin American identity through traditional Chilean folk music with an edgy twist. Inti-Illimani was formed by students at Universidad Técnica del Estado at Santiago, Chile in 1967 and became popular in Chile for their song “Venceremos (We shall win!)” which became the anthem of the Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende . In 1973 as they were on tour abroad, General Augusto Pinochet launched a coup d’etat and took power. Having heard of the numerous extra-judicial killings of many fellow artists by Chile’s army, they took up residence in Italy, resulting in “the longest tour in history” as they remained in exile while continuing their efforts supporting Chilean democracy. In September 1988, days after they were no longer banned from Chile, they returned and started touring in the country again. They helped organize the voting down of the referendum that would have re-elected Pinochet.
I had the honor to talk with Mr. Jorge Coulon again recently to promote the Sunday, October 22nd event here in Madison at the Wisconsin Union Theater’s Shannon Hall. We talked about what someone new to the group could expect as well as spending time discussing the latest release, “El Cantos de Todos”, a celebration of the musical traditions and songs of Violeta Parra. Mr. Coulon and I talk about the process of taking these historically important songs and giving them a slightly more modern touch/feel. We talked a little about how it feels to land in the USA of today and I would have been remiss not to bring up a least one of the humanitarian efforts this dynamic group has made a difference in the world by getting involved with. Find out what Mr. Coulon has to say about these things by clicking play above.