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La India Canela is the stage name of Lidia Maria Hernandez Lopez, a gifted accordion player who specializes in tipico-styled meringue. Lopez was born in Limon, Villa Gonzalez, a rural tobacco-farming region in the Santiago Province of the Dominican Republic. Her brother played accordion, and she gravitated to the instrument as a child, quickly showing an affinity for the instrument. Her father apprenticed the young musician to saxophonist Miro Francisco, who also played the accordion, and her formal training began. Juan de Dius, a saxophonist in Fefita La Grande's band, heard Lopez, then 14 years old, and convinced her to form a band. Moving the group to Santiago, Lopez started out on her professional career as a musician, working with several groups during the 1980s, playing tipico with a speed and dexterity that amazed all who saw and heard her. In 2008 Smithsonian Folkways released an album featuring Lopez (as La India Canela), Merengue Tipico from the Dominican Republic.
"La India Canela" is an accordionist and musician from the Dominican Republic. She plays music from the merengue típico tradition. Born Lidia Maria Hernandez Lopez, she was born in El Limon, Villa González, in the Santiago Province. She is the first professional musician in her family, though her father and brother played recreationally. Both terms in her stage name refer to her skin color: India is the preferred term for mulatto in the Dominican Republic and canela carries the additional connotation of sweetness and spiciness.
Recognizing her talent, her father took her to stay with Miro Francisco, a famous saxophonist who also played accordion. One day, Juan de Dios, Fefita la Grande's saxophonists decided to bring her to Santiago and make a musical group. In Santiago, La India learned from Siano Arias, Rafaelito Polanco, Lupe Valerio, and Rafaelito Román, and went on to record several albums and win two Casandra Awards. In 2008, she recorded an album "Merengue Típico from the Dominican Republic" on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and was featured on NPR's All Things Considered. She has begun to tour in the U.S. including Washington DC and New York City.