14-Year Old Peruvian Girl Brings New Life to Indigenous Language With Michael Jackson Cover

Arika Okrent

At eight million speakers, Quechua, the language of the ancient Incan Empire, is one of the most robust indigenous languages in South America. But it is rarely taught in schools, and is often looked at as a language of the poor, the elderly, and the provincial. Children who grow up in Quechua-speaking homes often abandon it. In this PRI interview, 14-year-old Renata Flores explains, "I believe maybe that they attach it to poverty, and they don't put value into it, but that's not right."

A few months ago Flores released a video of her singing Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel" in a Quechua translation. The video has since been viewed over a million times on YouTube and kids in her hometown of Ayacucho are taking new pride in their traditional language.

Listen to the PRI interview with Renata Flores here.