Totó la Momposina Heads Rhythm Foundation's Colombia Hollywood Arts Park Experience

When most scholars study a subject, they write a book about what they learn. For Colombia's Totó la Momposina, that was not enough. Instead, in 1968, she chose to embody her area of expertise: the folk music of the Mempos Falls in the Atlantic coastal region of Colombia.

For more than 45 years, she has sung and danced, accompanied by a unique band that both makes and plays the traditional instruments of the region. These instruments include drums created with hollowed-out tree trunks and goat skin, a rattle made with bamboo filled with dried seeds, and a small flute fashioned from a stalk of wild millet.

But the most important ingredient is the woman herself, who exudes passion and festivity as she dances the cumbia and unleashes her powerful voice at every performance.

Each Hollywood Arts Experience that the Rhythm Foundation presents focuses on a different country. Now that it's Colombia's turn, there was no better option than Totó la Momposina. She has come to represent her nation at every important event -- from fellow countryman Gabriel García Márquez's being awarded the Nobel Prize for literature to acting as a mainstay at the Latin Grammys and winning a lifetime achievement award earlier this year.

Lucky for you, this class taught by Professor Totó la Momposina will cost you nothing. The open-air concert is free, so you won't need to extend your student loans to learn about Colombian folk music.

Hollywood Arts Park Experience: Colombia with Afro Kumbe and Imperio Juvenil. 6 p.m. Sunday, December 15, at Hollywood Arts Park, 1 Young Circle, Hollywood.

Admission is free. Call 305-672-5202, or visit

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