COVER

Lido Pimienta

The Colorful World of Miss Colombia

By Kimberley Jev

A

Afro-Colombian Toronto-based singer, Lido Pimienta, recently joined a growing number of artists, entertainers, and musicians in canceling the release tour for her upcoming Miss Colombia album due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a darkness that has bestowed itself on one of the most colorful releases of the year.

The world as we once knew it is rapidly transforming and Pimienta is still reeling from the shock of its immediate effect on the music industry—all tours and festivals are canceled or postponed for the foreseeable future. “It’s really bad timing,” Pimienta laments from her home in Toronto’s west end, where she is self-isolating with her family. “We are coming into a new way.”

Pimienta speaks with a calloused conviction in her tone, but growing up in Colombia, she’s no stranger to tumultuous times. “You know, I grew up in a place where you could be eating breakfast, and guerrillas and the government are shooting each other outside your window,” she says.

Over the course of her career, Pimienta has proven her ability to adapt. She’s gone from a rudimentary DIY sound to a cleaner, more refined setup, complete with a professional home studio that she writes and records from, and a space where she can infuse her personality, heritage, and home life into her music. It’s this third eye connection to place, time, and situations that reveals itself most through her new body of work.

Miss Colombia is Pimienta’s follow-up to her 2016 Polaris Prize-winning, La Papessa. The title plays to Pimienta’s humorous side, an ode to Steve Harvey’s blunder during the 2015 Miss Universe show.

Afro-Colombian Toronto-based singer, Lido Pimienta, recently joined a growing number of artists, entertainers, and musicians in canceling the release tour for her upcoming Miss Colombia album due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a darkness that has bestowed itself on one of the most colorful releases of the year.

The world as we once knew it is rapidly transforming and Pimienta is still reeling from the shock of its immediate effect on the music industry—all tours and festivals are canceled or postponed for the foreseeable future. “It’s really bad timing,” Pimienta laments from her home in Toronto’s west end, where she is self-isolating with her family. “We are coming into a new way.”

Pimienta speaks with a calloused conviction in her tone, but growing up in Colombia, she’s no stranger to tumultuous times. “You know, I grew up in a place where you could be eating breakfast, and guerrillas and the government are shooting each other outside your window,” she says.

Over the course of her career, Pimienta has proven her ability to adapt. She’s gone from a rudimentary DIY sound to a cleaner, more refined setup, complete with a professional home studio that she writes and records from, and a space where she can infuse her personality, heritage, and home life into her music. It’s this third eye connection to place, time, and situations that reveals itself most through her new body of work.

Miss Colombia is Pimienta’s follow-up to her 2016 Polaris Prize-winning, La Papessa. The title plays to Pimienta’s humorous side, an ode to Steve Harvey’s blunder during the 2015 Miss Universe show.

You know, I grew up in a place where you could be eating breakfast and guerrillas and the government are shooting each other outside your window.

You know, I grew up in a place where you could be eating breakfast and guerrillas and the government are shooting each other outside your window.


While she likes to have fun, Pimienta is known for using her music to pose hard questions and she often uses her lyrical tact to address necessary narratives. Her activism, by way of her music, has earned her a dedicated following. While Miss Colombia is presented in Spanish, it’s crafted thoughtfully, so even those who are not fluent grasp the themes of love, self-love, and loss.

“I have been listening to Colombian music all of my life. I’m from a very small region so to enrapture all of this took a lot of meditation and patience. It took a lot…” she pauses, “A lot of love.”

For Pimienta, love is the undisputed unifier for this new project. “I don’t know what people will take away [from it]. The response so far has been very positive, despite the language barrier. Someone said they felt more in touch with their spirit after hearing Miss Colombia and some other people are way funnier about it. You know, going ‘that beat slaps!’ I love it; I love all of it.”

I was very conscious while making the album—I just wanted to do something that is truly me because I am truly me.

Through music, Pimienta’s voice has transformed. She’s been actively exploring new territory as she takes the lead within the Afro electronic cumbia genre. While still working within the realms of electronic music and traditional sounds from her homeland of Colombia, there is a newfound subtleness to her direct delivery. An evolution, as she tells us, from La Papessa. “I learned so many things from La Papessa; from production to arrangement, to strategies, to songwriting,” she explains. “I planned this album around my pregnancy; I birthed Miss Colombia like I birthed my child.” For Pimienta, the process resulted in a new addition to her family and a carefully arranged album.

Miss Colombia is an exploration of Pimienta’s experience with anti-blackness, motherhood, femininity, loss, life, and injustice. It’s a clear production full of relatable experiences that transcend a range of emotion and realizations throughout 11 tracks. With songs like her breakthrough single, “Nada,” featuring Colombian singer Li Saumet and the defiant yet delicate “Te Queria,” Miss Colombia is an ephemeral amalgamation that honours the femme-identifying journey, uplifting the art and voice of Pimienta’s Afro-Colombian Indigenous queer feminist identity.

Pimienta’s thrust into the limelight wasn’t without its missteps. She experienced a bout of backlash after a performance at Halifax Pop Explosion in 2017, when she asked women of colour to move to the front of the crowd. Met with criticism at her request, Pimienta was put under a microscope, but it simultaneously propelled her further into a new space where she was able to drive conversations and initiatives surrounding the needs of women and individuals who identify with her.

She addressed the controversy with great finesse and poise. She spoke to Billboard about the incident that same year, “As an immigrant, as an Afro-Indigenous person, as an intersectional feminist, as a mother and all of the other signifiers that qualify me as ‘other,’ I understand what it is like to not see yourself in the media, to not see yourself in institutions and do not see yourself represented or reflected at a music show, because the ‘artist of colour’ (and I put that in quotation marks because even that term is extremely problematic), we don’t get to see each other at that level.”

That experience lit up the rhetoric Pimienta wanted to expose and critique like a spotlight, and she found herself as an independent woman and artist. Pimienta’s fan base is international and her voice continues to be both strong and idiosyncratic as she evolves her sound. “I was very conscious while making the album—I just wanted to do something that is truly me because I am truly me,” she says. “You are going to hear varied electronic beats and you are going to hear all these kinds of rhythms, but you are also not going to be able to specify.”

Miss Colombia presents a stronger, focused Lido Pimienta and she’s here to take that crown and wear it with pride. “I wanted to do this right,” she says earnestly. “When people say this is new cumbia, this is a new proposal that doesn’t sound cheesy and it hasn’t been sterilized.”

Currently a time of trepidation for many, artists around the world are relying heavily on online interaction with fans. A surge in Instagram live videos from singer/songwriters, DJs, producers, and more presents an exciting time for artists during this pandemic. With an already strong international following, these new days present a fresh way for Pimienta to connect with audiences. “I am a real artist darling,” she says, putting on a faux British accent. “I have so much [that] I’m working on. I’m trying to stay positive and remind myself that I am also a visual artist.” Pimienta often posts her whimsical, colourfully tasseled ceramic faces to her feed. “I’m making art and I’m focusing on stocking up my website with work that I was planning to sell on tour. Now I think it’s time to organize and catalog my work.”

Miss Colombia is available now via ANTI-





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