Ethnomusicologist, singer-songwriter and poet, Mario Cancel-Bigay was born in Puerto Rico in 1982. He learned to play the Puerto Rican cuatro, the archipelago’s national guitar, at age twelve at public music school Libre de Música in San Juan. In 2005, he earned a B.A. in Modern Languages (Portuguese and French) from the University of Puerto Rico, and in 2014, an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies at New York University. Currently, he is a Ph.D. candidate in the ethnomusicology program at Columbia University where he researches anticolonialism, decoloniality and cross-cultural encounters as heard through Puerto Rican nueva canción, chanson québécoise and related sounds of resistance from Puerto Rico and Québec's 1960s and 70s. In 2018, he was awarded Columbia University's GSAS Mellon Humanities International Travel Fellowship, and the year before, the GSAS Alumni Association Fund for Underrepresented Minority Students Fellowship. He is happily married to his Haitian-American wife Edline Jacquet, and is the proud father of a Puerto Rican-Haitian girl named Gabriela.
Early Career Fellow