Little-Known Colombian Band Mystified By Obama Playlist Spot

The members of the little-known Colombian salsa band are clueless as to how an obscure song they recorded more than a decade ago landed on a Spotify playlist curated by President Barack Obama.

The track, “La salsa la traigo yo,” by Sonora Carruseles, is one of 40 songs featured on two #POTUSPlaylists on the popular music streaming service. The lists also include music by Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Coldplay, Frank Sinatra, Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Spanish singer Mala Rodriguez.

“For us, it’s an honor that an influential person such as the U.S. president is enjoying and having fun in his free time with the Colombian salsa of Sonora Carruseles,” band member Daniel Marmolejo said.

Band members were surprised when they heard the news – so surprised, in fact, that they thought it was a joke, Marmolejo said.

Photo: Alan Diaz/AP
Leonardo Sierra, left, Daniel Marmolejo, center, and Jans Certuche, right, sing one of their hits during an interview in Doral, Fla.

The biggest surprise: The song was one the band had virtually forgotten.

“We haven’t played this song in a long time, and we even removed it from our repertoire to squeeze in our new material,” said Marmolejo, adding that it’s back in rotation now.

The White House said it was unable to supply explanations for how individual items got on the playlist, though aides stressed Obama picked out the tunes himself and in general discovers music as most other people do – from friends, family, movies, musicians and elsewhere.

Founded in Medellin, Colombia, in 1995, Sonora Carruseles released its first album in 2001. In 2005, the band members moved to Miami to make touring easier. To date, they’ve released 14 albums.

The 12-member band hopes that being included on the playlist is its lucky break.

“Now everything has changed. In these few days, more people know about us, they want to know who we are, where we come from and to learn more about our music. For us, it is very important that Obama has put us on the map,” said Leonardo Sierra, one of the band’s members.

“Our country hardly knows about us and that saddens us,” Marmolejo added. “But I think that this is a great opportunity for us to cross cultural and musical boundaries.”