Rafael Escalona was born on May 27, 1927, in a small rural village in what is now the department of Cesar. He started writing songs at the age of 16, while in High School. His songs told stories, in a troubadour fashion. His first song was dedicated to his favorite teacher who was being transferred to another high school and was called "El Profe Casteneda".
By 1950, he was a well-known composer, drawing on the history and culture of the region to tell stories of love, life, friendship, pain, gossip, etc. Although he was a prolific songwriter, he did not play and instrument or sing.
In 1968, Escalona, along with former Colombian President Alfonso Lopez Michelsen, and Consuleo Araujo created the Vallenato festival mentioned yesterday (Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata) in Valledupar.
He was a good friend to Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who once told Escalona that his masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude, was just one long vallenato.
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