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Renata Flores, the indigenous musician who sings songs against discrimination in the Quechua language

14-year-old indigenous Peruvian Renata Flores sings a Michael Jackson cover in the Quechua language, becoming a symbol of the fight against racial discrimination.

As happens to many American equal-in-age girls, Renata Flores at age 14 became a celebrity on YouTube singing Michael Jackson’s songs. But unlike other girls, this Peruvian student didn’t make do with singing an international superstar’s cover with a beautiful and emotional voice, she translated the lyrics in her native language, the Quechua, to bring her traditions back to life.

This centuries-old dialect, derived from the Inca who spoke it more than 800 years ago, is now a social stigma in Peru. Even if it’s the second most spoken language in the country, after Spanish, those who speak the Quechua are considered uncool. It’s not taught at school and, by now, just the old people living in the Andes speak it since new generations avoid learning it. “People think that Quechua is another world for poverty and unfairly don’t think highly of it”, said Flores, who has recently begun to learn the Quechua language.

In August the talented singer shared the video of her cover of Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” with Inca ruins in the background. It was watched more than a million times on the Internet. The next month, thanks to the help of friends and relatives, she held her first concert in her native city of Ayacucho. On the stage, what standed out the most was not only the innovative mix of English and Quechua in her songs, but also the chullo she proudly wears, which has become the symbol of the fight against ethinc discrimination in Peru.

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