INKARAYKU is a Quechua word that means “because of the Incas.” Led by founder Andres Jimenez, the group seeks to link the past, present and future of Andean arts, through the performance of indigenous music forms that have evolved into the contemporary mestizo music heard today. Inkarayku’s sound blends the organic power of Quechua folk songs with the energy and edge unique to our City that never sleeps. The band’s diverse line-up brings together a river of musical and artistic experience resulting in Andean folk music that transcends cultural boundaries and seamlessly shares the stage with other folk traditions of the Americas.

Founded in 2010, INKARAYKU developed out of Jimenez’s former group INKA KUSI SONQO. The ensemble has grown to include a full line up of Andean flutes, strings, percussion and vocals. INKARAYKU has performed at such notable venues as Lincoln Center, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, National Museum of the American Indian, New York University, Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania, Haverford College, Brooklyn Folk Festival, the Jalopy Theatre, Leftfield Bar and Grill, Lucky Jacks NYC, the Nyack Village Theatre, Terraza 7, Gantry Plaza, the Queens Museum, the Clemente and many more.

Andres Jimenez – Musical Director (Winds, Strings & Vocals)

Andres, Inkarayku’s founding musical director and multi-instrumentalist comes from a long line of Andean musicians. Born into a musical family, Andres was first exposed to Andean folk song through his mother, a gifted singer and collector or Andean music recordings.

Over the years, he has apprenticed and recorded with many of the New York area Andean music greats including Guillermo Guerrero, Pepe Santana, Carlos Ambia, Walter Aparicio, and Jose Alberto Ruiz. Andres is well known and respected for the flexibility and precision of his performances with the traditional groups Tahuantinsuyo, Inkay, Wayramarka, Grupo Khana and Sumaq Punchau respectively.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, with heritage from Apurimac and the northern coast of Peru, Andres is also heavily steeped in the traditions of American rock punk, and heavy metal. He founded the group Inka Kusi Sonqo with his uncle Carlos Ambia, in the 1990s. The band specialized in Peruvian Quechua music with a line-up that combined community elders, established members of NYC’s Andean music scene, and Andres’s own students.

Inkarayku is the most contemporary incarnation of this musical lineage. It is through this ensemble that Andres seeks to brand a uniquely New York-Andean sound drawing on his position as a second-generation Andean New Yorker and the diverse backgrounds of its members.

Carlos Moises Ambia – Winds & Vocals

Carlos Moises (affectionately known as Momo) comes from one of NYC’s great Andean music families. The son of the late Carlos Ambia (former member of Tahuantinsuyo and Inka Kusi Sonqo), he grew up around the tradition, picking up his first Quena at age of 7. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY with heritage from Apurimac and Huaraz, Peru, Momo apprenticed and performed with Inka Kusi Sonqo before helping Andres Jimenez (his cousin) to found Inkarayku in 2010.

Andres guided and refined Momo’s musical talents over the year’s, however it is a deep respect for his roots and history that lead Momo to channel his artistic passion into what Inkarayku is today.

Erico Benavente – Guitar & Bass

Born in Jersey City, and raised in Brooklyn, NY to a Colombian mother and Peruvian father, Erico’s first musical encounter was as a young DJ learning to match beats by ear. During college he began to pick up musical instruments such as the guitar and electric bass. His first stab at Andean music was with a college friend from Ayacucho, Peru who taught him to play typical melodies on the zampoña or sikus, as they are called in Quechua.

In 1998 Erico met Andres Jimenez and and began to play in Inka Kusi Sonqo while studying the range of rhythms and musical styles from the South American Andes. Years later he followed Andres as he formed Inkarayku, becoming the group’s rhythm guitar and now bass player. Erico has taken classes in Recorded Sound and Music Theory at Columbia University where he works as a Computer and Audio Visual Lead Technician.

Romina Cárnica Navarro – Vocals & Percussion

Romina Cárnica Navarro was born and raised in Lima, Peru with heritage from Ayacucho and Yauyos respectively. She grew up surrounded by the sounds of Ayacuchana harp and violin at her mother’s family gatherings. Other early musical influences included Andean musicians such as Julia and Sila Illanes, Manuelcha Prado, Los Puquiales, Manuel Garcia Zárate, and Hermanos Gaytan-Castro. During her teen years, she played Peruvian Castrense tunes of the Coast and Andes on the snare drum in school performances.  

Romina moved to New York City in 2006 to continue her studies in Biology. There, she began singing with the BMCC Downtown Choir and in 2008, got to perform as a chorister in the Tribeca area as well as Madison Square Garden and Carnegie Hall. She then joined Peruvian composer and instrumentalist Carlos David Bernales’s choir to perform lirica cusqueña in the Quechua language at masses and in schools in the tri-state area. In 2017, she was coached by Elva Ambia, the founder of the Quechua Collective of NY, to improve her Quechua language skills and pronunciation in Andean folk songs. She was then invited by Andres Jimenez, to join Inkarayku as a vocalist and drummer. When on vacation, Romina continues traveling to the Peruvian Andes to join local musicians at annual celebrations and rituals. 

Roxana Jimenez Quintanilla – Vocals & Percussion

Roxana Jimenez Quintanilla was born in Potosi City in the department of Potosi, Bolivia. Potosi has a very important place in global financial history, as well as a very rich tradition in folkloric music and dance. In fact, it is the city that gave birth to the group Savia Andia, one of the most influential Andean groups of all time. The members of the group were acquaintances of Roxana.

Roxana later moved to La Paz to study Physical Therapy. After she moved to New Jersey, USA, she joined the Bolivian group Khana as a dancer. Andres Jimenez was a musician in this group at the time and they later became husband and wife. Roxana eventually joined Andres’ group Inka Kusi Sonqo as a singer and musician, and then Inkarayku. Roxana is one of the most talented members as she sings and can play percussion, guitar, charango, quena and zampoña. She is the lone representative of Bolivian music in the group, as everyone else is of Peruvian heritage. Her specialty is the music from Bolivia and the Altiplano such as tinku tonada, morenada, caporales, and sicuri-wayño.

Omar Carillo – Charango

Omar Carillo was born and raised in Queens, NY to Peruvian parents. Often referred to as the “world’s borough” in honor of its incredible ethnic diversity, Queens is home to the City’s largest Peruvian immigrant community. Omar grew up surrounded by the Peruvian diaspora, however his first interaction with traditional Andean music came through his participation in Pachamama Peruvian Arts, an after school program in Jackson Heights. It was there that he learned to play indigenous wind instruments and first picked up the charango.

Andres Jimenez was one of his principal teachers in the program, and after graduating he continued to study with Andres, eventually joining Inkarayku as a full fledged band member.

For publicity, booking, and additional information:
Naomi Sturm | inkarayku@gmail.com