Best Cumbia Vallenato Album

In the category of Best Cumbia Vallenato album, the winner of the Latin Grammy was Diomedes Díaz. When I checked my archives, I was stunned that I have never written anything about Diomedes. He is a Colombian icon of Vallenato. He sings, composes, and performs Vallenato. His nickname is the "Cacique de la Junta", a moniker that was given him by Rafael Orozco Maestre, another Vallenato singer.

Born in 1957, Díaz was raised on a farm on the outskirts of La Junta, in the department of La Guajira. His family was very poor , but he had an uncle that was a singer. This uncle helped Díaz to train his voice. In the mid 1970's, he got his first recording deal. He has pumped out one or two recordings every year since, with the exception of the years he was on the run or in jail. Which brings me to this ...

I think that the reason I haven't written about him is that there is a huge scandal that surrounded him in 1997. I remember the scandal because my husband and I were visiting Colombia shortly after the story broke.

In May of 1997, Díaz had held a party at his home in Bogotá. Drugs were present and at the party a young woman was raped. The next morning the woman was found dead on the outskirts of Bogotá. Starting in October 1997, Díaz was placed on house confinement because of "health issues." In 2000, the judge ordered that the house arrest be changed to state confinement, and that Díaz be tried on the charges. When Díaz heard this, he ran away and went to live with a paramilitary group.

He was tried in abstentia and convicted of having caused the woman's death, though there was also considerable evidence that she had suffered from a drug overdose. In August of 2002, after evading arrest for a year and a half, Díaz turned himself into authorities in Valledupar.

Rather than getting a stiffer penalty, his sentence was reduced and he was back on the streets in time to produce a new album.

I had enjoyed his music before all of the scandal, but I have had a hard time enjoying his success since becoming aware of the events that surrounded the scandal. I wish I were better able to separate the two. Either way, you may enjoy hearing some of his work. Here is a song from this year's the Latin Grammy winning album "Listo Pa' La Foto". It is called "Me Busco Otra".

Here is another called "El Bachiller"


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