March 01, 2021 -- 9:09 am PST

Jorge Oñate, "The Mockingbird of the Americas," was one of the most important composers and interpreters of vallenato — a successful, popular and authentic genre of Colombian music.

Oñate marked a before and after in the genre. He became the first vallenato artist to focus exclusively on vocal performance: before him, musicians sang while playing the accordion at the same time.

Throughout his extensive career, Oñate earned great fame and commercial success. He was a mentor and friend to many of the genre’s performers, as well as an active member of the vallenato community and an advocate for the rights of composers in Colombia.

He received the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award from The Latin Recording Academy, and several of his works received Latin GRAMMY® nominations.
His performances leave a cultural legacy for the genre that will continue to inspire the next generation of music makers. We deeply regret his passing. We extend our respect and deepest condolences to his family, his fans and all of Colombia.

Gabriel Abaroa, Jr. 
The Latin Recording Academy®