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The Curaçao Difference

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Dynamic Curaçao Music


The music of Curaçao encompasses sounds and rhythms from all over the world. Throughout the island's history, a wide array of ethnic groups have made long-lasting contributions. European influences include the Austrian waltz, Spanish dansa, Bohemian polka, French quadrille, and many more. These rhythms were introduced mainly by the Jewish colonists and caught on quickly.

But the most influential music and dance came from Africa, including the following styles:


Also called the Curaçao blues. First used by Curaçaon slaves to express their sorrow and frustration with life's hardships. Basic instruments: the tambu (drum), kachu (cow's horn), agan (piece of iron or a ploughshare), and chapi (hoe). Clapping, usually by the women of the island, accompanies the music. This distinctive binary measure African dance style, combines isolation of body parts with elaborate hip gyrations.


The traditional rhythms of Curaçao's harvest festival. Originally a festive march through the fields, the seú is made up of graceful dance steps, called "wapa," mimicking the movements used in planting and harvesting. Early in the 20th century, the opening of the oil refinery and corresponding decrease in agriculture resulted in the end of the traditional seú. Today the dance is performed only in Willemstad's annual folklore parade on Easter Monday, and enjoys the participation from more than 2,000 Curacoans of all ages.


This is one of the most important forms of Curaçao music. The style originated in Africa, although the name comes from a 17th century Spanish dance. As its rhythm evolved-under influence of the merengue and other Afro-Caribbean beats, as well as jazz-the tumba became Curaçao's most popular dance tune. Today's tumba is best known for its part in the official Carnival Road March.


These songs helped encourage a constant working pace during digging, rowing, and other labor. There would always be an accompanying presenter who knew the repertoire by heart. Labor songs were sung in semi-Papiamentu (Seshi) or in Guene (Afro-Portuguese dialects of the African west coast). Over 1,500 of these songs are known.

Music Today

The music and dance of today's Curaçao draws heavily on outside traditions-including merengue, calypso, reggae, salsa, and cha-cha-cha-incorporating Papiamentu words and rhythms of African origin to create an altogether original style.

Although Curaçao has no permanent professional classical orchestras or ensembles, chamber groups sometimes come together for special concerts. Occasionally, visiting musicians come from South America, Europe, and the United States, but local talent hold their own admirably at the island's major jazz festival.

Curaçoan music can be heard in a variety of venues through out the island check the K-Pasa entertainment guide or visit prior to your visit.

Curaçaoan Opera Singer wins Dutch Edison Award

Tania Kross

Mezzo soprano Tania Kross was born in Curaçao in 1976. She studied voice at the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten in Utrecht. In recent years, Tania Kross has been awarded various important prizes: a first prize by the Stichting Jong Muziektalent Nederland, first prize in the Cristina Deutekom Concours 2000, an incentive prize in the Rosa Ponselle International Competition for Vocal Arts (New York), the NPS Cultuur Prijs 2000, and the Dutch Edison Award 2006. Tania Kross has performed in several opera productions. In 2006 she performed arias from Carmen with the Residentie Orchestra. She will have her debut with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Valery Gergiev, release her second solo CD on the Philips label, and she will debut with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, conducted by Philippe Herreweghe

Izaline Calister

Singer, composer, and lyricist with a distinctive personal musical style. A charismatic performer, at times warm and intimate, then again expressive and extroverted, masterfully weaves together the traditional music of her native island, Curaçao (Dutch Caribbean), with Jazz. Izaline possesses the exceptional gift that makes all the difference for a soloist, as she sings in her mother tongue, Papiamentu, with feeling and grace. She has this ability to remain true to her roots and successfully reach out and conquer audiences around the world singing in an unfamiliar language, while melding seamlessly the pulsating rhythms of Afro-Antilles music with Jazz.

Escape to the Caribbean’s hidden treasure. Fall in love with world-class diving and beaches, invigorating outdoor adventure, and vibrant Curacao music. Make your travel arrangements today!