Celso Piña, the cumbia music legend known as “the rebel of the accordion,” died of a heart attack on Wednesday in his hometown of Monterrey, Mexico. He was 66 years old.
“Today is a sad day for La Tuna Group, with deep pain we communicate the unexpected departure of a family member, our friend, and professor Celso Piña who died today in Monterrey at 12:38 p.m. due to a heart attack,” Pina’s music label, La Tuna Group said in an announcement via social media. “Our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and followers. We are left with an intense emptiness, but he leaves us his great legacy forever. We appreciate respecting the privacy of the family.”
Known for his fusion of cumbia with other genres like ska, hip-hop, reggae and R&B, Piña earned a Latin Grammy nomination for his album “Barrio Bravo.” The composer, singer, arranger, and musician collaborated with a number of artists including Lila Downs, Julieta Venegas, Cafe Tacvba, and Gloria Trevi who contributed on popular song “Sufran con lo que yo gozo.”
His other popular songs include “La Piragua,” “Reina de Cumbia,” and “Cumbia Sobre el Rio.”
Piña first began playing music with his brothers Eduardo, Ruben and Enrique. He didn’t pick up the accordion until his 20s, when he began to learn the vallenato style. It was in the mid-1980s that he changed his music style to play tropical music with his group Celso Piña y su Ronda Bogotá.
He had planned to do shows in Arlington, Texas and Duluth, Ga. before his death, and had performed in Acapulco in July.