This Peruvian girls
Michael Jackson cover will make you want to learn the dying language
In the middle of ancient Incan ruins in the foot hills of the
Peruvian Andes, 14-year-old Renata Flores Rivera brings together
two things dear to her heart: the ancient Indigenous language of
South America, Quechua, and Michael Jacksons The Way
You Make Me Feel. The result is gorgeous:
Flores spoke to Fusion from home on Monday afternoon after a
full day at school.
Its a project called Las juventudes tambien
hablamos Quechua (the youth, we speak Quechua too),
she said. She said its important for her to be able
to appreciate this language again, because we are losing it here
Floress mother, Patricia Rivera Canchanya, kicked off
the campaign this year through a cultural association, la Asociación
Cultural Surca, which she founded 11 years ago to promote arts and
Peruvian culture in their home city of Huamanga (also known as Ayacucho).
Rivera is also a musician, and set up a music school through the
association. She said she saw an urgent need to pass on Quechua
to younger generations, before the language is forgotten in Peru.
I speak Quechua, but not very fluently anymore because
we dont use it, she said. They teach a lot here,
English, which is also really important because its the global
language, but we cant abandon our roots because this is ours,
its a heritage that we shouldnt allow ourselves to lose.
Though its one of Perus two official languages (along
with Spanish), Quechua is not taught in schools and is spoken by
just around 13 percent of the population, Rivera said.
Dialects of Quechua are spoken in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina,
Chile, Colombia, and Brazil by a total of about 8.3 million people,
according to 1987 data cited by UCLAs Center for World Languages,
with about 4.4 million of those in Peru. The number of speakers
has likely declined since then.
Flores said shes received messages praising the song.
Shes planning a concert this September in Huamanga to keep
up the momentum. Thats the next step. But ultimately, she
said, shed like to study music professionally after high school.
In her spare time right now, she plays the guitar, dances and singsshes
also learning Quechua. She was on The Voice Kids during her most
recent summer holidays.
Asked why she chose a Michael Jackson song for this special
treatment in Quechua, she said, When I was five years old
I listened to a lot of Michael Jackson, I liked and admired him
as for this particular song, I think I had sung it
before in English and then my mom had the idea that I could record
it in Quechua, she said.
Interviews were conducted in Spanish and translated to English.