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Musical Explorers for Families & Kids

Bomba and Plena with Juan and Julia

Meet Juan and Julia!

Juan is the founder of Los Pleneros de la 21, and Julia is Juan’s youngest daughter.

Step by Step

Sing “Estoy Buscando un Árbol”

  • Listen to “Estoy Buscando un Árbol,” Track 32.
  • Learn the lyrics to the refrain using “Estoy Buscando un Árbol” pronunciation, Track 33.
  • Sing the refrain using “Estoy Buscando un Árbol” response, Track 34.

Sing “Ola de la Mar”

  • Listen to “Ola de la Mar,” Track 35.
  • Learn the lyrics to the chorus using “Ola de la Mar” pronunciation, Track 36.
  • Sing the chorus using “Ola de la Mar” chorus, Track 37.

What is Bomba and Plena?

Bomba and plena stand at the core of Afro–Puerto Rican music. They are often grouped together, but each has its own trajectory and musical identity. Bomba is said to be one of the oldest musical expressions of the Americas, dating back 500 years with direct connection to the African ancestry of slaves. Plena is a product of the early 20th century, growing amid a developing sense of Puerto Rican national identity. Both have been used to voice freedom, individuality, cultural affirmation, and even labor reform. As such, bomba and plena are considered to be the main vehicles that express Puerto Rican resistance, resilience, and pride.

Juan is the founder of Los Pleneros de la 21. Since 1983, the group has been fusing the traditional rhythms and dance of bomba and plena with contemporary and urban styles, like son, salsa, jazz, and hip-hop. The group inspired the creation of dozens of bomba and plena bands in the US. Julia is Juan’s youngest daughter. She has dedicated herself to continuing this tradition and has become a well-respected bomba and plena dancer and educator.

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