Segunda Quimbamba

Juan Cartagena

A performer, composer, instructor, researcher and writer of Puerto Rico’s drum music:  Bomba & Plena.  SEGUNDA QUIMBAMBA is a percussion and dance ensemble directed by Juan which was founded as “Los Pleneros de la Segunda” in Jersey City by Juan and his wife, Nanette Hernández, in 1989.  In 1997 Juan formed the nonprofit SEGUNDA QUIMBAMBA FOLKLORIC CENTER, Inc. to preserve and promote Bomba & Plena in New Jersey and the rest of the country. Mr. Cartagena has led Segunda Quimbamba in its performances in Puerto Rico, Spain and the United States.

 Juan was the principal writer and editor of Güiro y Maraca, the first-ever regular publication on Bomba & Plena in the U.S. and Puerto Rico and has authored over 30 articles about Bomba and Plena in Güiro y Maraca.  His essay “When Bomba Becomes the National Music of Puerto Rico…” was published in 2004 in the Centro Journal by the Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños at Hunter College. Juan has also lectured or been a panelist on the drum music of Puerto Rico in San Juan, Jersey City, Newark, the Bronx, and Manhattan.  In 2023 the New Jersey State Council recognized Juan Cartagena with its inaugural Heritage Fellowship Award for artistic excellence, lifetime achievement, and contributions to the state’s traditional arts heritage. Previously, the NJSCA recognized Juan as a Master Folk Artist on the Arts to teach Bomba and Plena rhythms since 2004 as part of its Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program.  Segunda Quimbamba has two recordings, Aquí También in 2010 and Experimental y Tradicional in 2015 on which Juan co-directed and performed.