Friday, January 29, 2010

Liza McAlister Video on Music and the Haitian Earthquake

Professor of Religion at Wesleyan University, Elizabeth McAlister is the author of RARA! VODOU, POWER AND PERFORMANCE IN HAITI AND ITS DIASPORA and a contributor to our Hip Deep program "Music and the Story of Haiti." During the current earthquake crisis in Haiti, Professor McAlister has appeared on National Public Radio and CNN talking about the history and culture of Haiti. Aside from an academic connection, Liza (as her friends call her) has deep personal ties to Haiti, and speaks about those ties as well as what role music has played in the Haitian Earthquake.

Thanks so much for sharing, Liza!

Here's the "Audio Postcard" from NPR that Liza referred to...

Our blog also features Wyclef Jean's performance at Help for Haiti and a link to today's Morning Edition piece on Boukman Eksperyans.

Sweet Mickey Video On Producing Miami Benefit Concert for Haiti

Musician Sweet Mickey, featured in this week's re-run of our 'Music and the Story of Haiti' show, talks about producing a Benefit Concert for Haiti in Miami, which took place last Saturday:

Lolo and Mimerose Beaubrun of Boukman Eksperyans Check in From Haiti via NPR

(For those just checking in this morning--make sure to check our recent blog posts which focus on the ongoing situation in Haiti and the response from musicians at home and in Haiti.)

Liza McAlister sent this link along to us as well, along with this message:

NPR found their way to Lolo and Manze from Boukman yesterday. They send their love, says the reporter, John Burnett. You can hear them on Morning Edition:

Feels great to hear their voices.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

More News on Musicians Helping Haiti

Liza McAlister passed along an interesting blog posting from NPR's "A Blog Supreme," talking about saxophonist Jane Bunnett helping out in Haiti. It's a great piece on how musicians are stepping up to help out, and also features video of some really interesting Haitian musicians.

All Day SOUND OFF HAITI Benefit This Weekend

We'll just keep posting benefits as they come in--please email with any Benefits we should know about...(thanks to Neva for tipping us off to this one).


one-day, all-day world music festival
Hosted by Los Mas Valientes
and the
Bayard Rustin Educational Complex

Salsa - Jazz - Klezmer - Celtic - Americana - Rock - Punk - Dominican Palo - African

Saturday, 12 noon to 8:00 p.m.
doors open at 11:30

Bayard Rustin Educational Complex (formerly Humanities High School)
351 W. 18th St. (Between 8th and 9th Aves), Manhattan
Take the A, C, or E trains to W. 14th St. or take the 1 train to W. 18th St.

Tickets are a recession-busting $10 at the door - EVERYONE can afford to help the people of Haiti!

100% of the ticket sales will go to benefit the American Red Cross Haitian relief effort. Information will be available on other deserving organizations accepting donations for Haitian relief.

Here are the bands, in order of performance, so you can plan what you want to hear!

12:15 - Cady Finlayson & Vita Tanga
spirited Irish fiddle with a global twist

1:05 - Changing Modes

1:55 - Atabales for Haiti
traditional Afro-Dominican and Haitian palo

2:45 - Valerie Naranjo
Ghanaian marimba

3:35 - Metropolitan Klezmer Special Edition

4:25 - Andrea Wolper & Ken Filiano
jazz bass and vocal duo

5:15 - La Sovietika
Caribbean dance rock

6:05 - Alex & Janel
roots rock/Americana

6:55 - Los Mas Valientes + Special Guests
salsa/Latin jazz

for more information please visit

Jessica Valiente
Musical Director, Los Mas Valientes
phone/fax: 973-759-1678; cellular: 646-265-7603
hablamos espanol

Benefit at Knitting Factory for Haiti on Monday

A friend of Afropop, former volunteer and musician, Mark Wixom, is involved in a Haiti Benefit taking place at the Knitting Factory on Monday. Here's his note and information on the benefit...

Since moving to New York, I've taught music lessons to the children of French-American families from different parts of the globe and lived in Crown Heights, Brooklyn surrounded by many Hatian neighbors. Some of my friends are still waiting to hear news from their families in Haiti. I hope you'll join us as we come together this Monday at Knitting Factory to raise funds and support the continued relief effort!

Bénéfice pour L'Haïti

Knitting Factory
361 Metropolitan ave. Brooklyn

Monday February 1st, 2010
7 pm doors, 8 pm show

Corner of Havermeyer and Metropolitan
L to Bedford avenue


Amayo's FU Arkist Ra (= me on bass)

Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens (= awesome)

Ikebe Shakedown (= funky)

Another event to benefit Haiti is planned for Tuesday, February 23rd at Long Island University's Brooklyn Campus, more details to follow.

Haitian Band Tjovi Ginen and Groupe en Priere

Daniel Laurent of Tjovi Ginen (a US-based Haitian band) passed this on to us. Groupe en Priere is leaving for Haiti February 8, 2010 to help out...

In the aftermath of the Haiti quake, we welcome your goodwill and energy meant to alleviate the pains and sufferings of the people in Haiti and the Diaspora. Indeed, having received your messages of sympathy and support we were able to reassure relatives, friends, colleagues and partners in Haiti that the community stands in solidarity with them.

Brief, we are happy to let you know that the Boston-based “Groupe en Priere,” (GEP [Group in Prayer]) a Haiti Recovery Initiative has engaged in reflection and inquiry in order to come up with strategy and tactics to bridge the gap in relief services being delivered to the victims and survivors. Indeed, since the earthquake our members, volunteers and supporters have conducted several activities that were conceived as prayer session and expressive therapy, e.g., music, with the specific intent to raise funds to cover the cost of purchasing and distributing food and water to the poor residing in the most disaffected neighborhoods such as Belair, Cite Soleil, Cite Letènèl, etc. In addition, we are assisting work on a capital campaign to rebuild one of the homes that make up the “Enfant Haitien Mon Frere” orphanage housing complex.

As you will agree, the relief effort ought to be a collaborative initiative, with both short and long-term goals, that would enable Haitians to establish a meaningful relationship with the land. For example, one of our colleagues has sent a message to members of his community advising the residents to consider building “Ajoupa” (Hut) as part of their reconstruction efforts. However, the utilization of wood as energy has led to an environmental crisis that has prompted many observers on Haiti (including us) to remark that Haitians fleeing the rural areas, ultimately the country itself, are environmental refugees. Hence we consider building Ajoupas in Haiti as one of the components of a healthy community model, which would require access to building materials that are eco-friendly including renewal energy, water conservation and, pollution prevention. Cognizant of the necessity for “Thinking to Lead” organizational change in Haiti, we are developing a revitalization model that takes into account the action-learning cycle, complete with planning, implementation, study and action step, so that it could be redeveloped as best practice to achieve quality of life and continuous transformation of human condition.

In concrete terms, “Groupe en Priere,” in collaboration with its fiscal sponsor “Massachusetts Community Health Services located at 1106 Main St Suite 109, Brockton, MA 02301,” is attempting to raise $67,000.00 (write Groupe en Priere on the memo line) to feed 20,000 individuals, which have relocated in the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, during the entire month of February 2010. However, as indicated above our response to the earthquake is not limited to leveraging funds; therefore, we would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and other interested parties to further explore your participation and/or come up with another activity that would foster a sustainable approach to leading change.

Thank you for your time and kindness we look forward to hear from you.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"Requeim for Haiti" by Erol Josue

We found out from Liza McAlister that Erol Josue, the musician and vodou priest featured in our "Music and the Story of Haiti" show, is in the midst of preparing a 21-part "Requiem for Haiti." He was nice enough to jump into the studio and put the finishing touches on the following song, "Manyan Voude," so that we could present it to you immediately:

In “Manyan Voude” Erol says, “We have to accept the decision of the Almighty. Even though the loss is big we have to rebuild.” It’s powerful.

Wyclef's Performance During Hope for Haiti Telethon

We've been following the Haiti situation closely here at Afropop, and have decided to repeat our 2007 Hip Deep program on Haiti, "Music and the Story of Haiti." That can be heard starting THU across the US. Leading up to, and during the broadcast window, we'll occasionally add videos, audio, reports and ruminations from the Haitian music community here in NYC, and from artists featured in "Music and the Story of Haiti."

First up is a great performance by Wyclef Jean during the Hope for Haiti telethon which aired last Friday. After a reggae intro, he breaks into some great rara at the end...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Reportage from Festival in the Desert

Well, the Afropop team was busy writing a grant proposal, and had to miss the action at the 10th annual Festival in the Desert in Mali. But we will be presenting reports from the festival, which appears to have been a great success. Our colleague, Chris Nolan has checked in with this initial report--

Report on the 10th Edition of the Festival au Desert.
Chris Nolan

As the sun began to set in Timbuktu, the 10th edition of the Festival au Desert began with full evening of exceptional entertainment in front of a multi-racial and multi-ethnic audience broadcast live over ORTM, Mali's national public television channel. Welcoming remarks were given to the Festival goers by the Mayor of the City and his remarks were echoed by the governor of the region. The Minister of Culture, Hon. Mohamed el Mohctar, spoke on behalf of everyone when he summed up the meaning of the Festival: bonheur; paix et securite.

As a taste of things to come the opening ceremony was capped by short performances from Habib Koite, Africa Percussion, Super Khoumeissa Band, Beley J, followed by the incomparable Haira Arby: Then the ceremonies were adjorned for a short dinner break.

The city of Timbuktu, a short walk away from the new Festival site, saw crowds of people walking through its dusty streets each day. Opening the evening program on the main stage was 7 Etoiles de Dire followed by Groupe Folklorique Bellafarandi. Both groups were in the traditional desert style. Then Fantani Toure took the stage and riveted the crowd with her clear griot style singing. Her red outfit clearly matched the hot style of her group. A Bambara superstar, Fantani sang directly to the crowd and they responded.
Fantani was followed by a group from the South Pacific nation of New Caledonia, Dick and Hnatr, who sang of their own colonial experience with France. The next singer was the American Harper Simon who sang an acoustic set of contemporary US singer songwriter material.

Then the group Skullroots from Norway brought the crowd to its feet with their unique use of the jews harp and hand drum. Their simple yet emotionally varied music resonated through the audience. They was followed by Tiale Arby whose style of contemporary Malian singing brought the program back to Africa. This mix of cultures was a significant part of this years program.

The final group of the evening was the now world renown Tinariwen. Their set lasted for over an hour and was wildly cheered at each song. Repeating his trademark phrase ce n est pas un catastrophe, Abullah led the group through a strong set that was energized and at the same time relaxed by the desert venue. It is always a clear advantage to hear a band among its hometown fan base. This set closed the evening and the crowds drifted back to either the tents among the dunes or the hotels and houses of the City.

The second night began with Annane Sy followed by Groupe Folklorique Niafunke, traditional groups of the region. They were followed by Terakraft, a great Touareg band whose style is similar to Tinariwen but they make the desert blues entirely their own. They drew great response from the audience. Following them was Dady Dasty from Martinique whose reggae style was a a hit as he sang in French about the carribean experience.

The next performer, Rhissa Ag Wanagli from Niger, brought the more melodic touareg style of Niger to the audience. Deemed by many to be one of the superstars of Niger, Rhissa sang and played the guitar with a superb group. His music brought the audience back to the desert and the Touareg experience from across contemporary national borders.

The next group was the famous Tartit. Led by Disco, their singing was strong and they changed from the traditional to contemporary style during their set demonstrating the versatility and development of contemporary music. Unfortunately the sound system was not balanced for both style and that detracted from their considerable musicianship.

The next performer, Deacon from the American group Animal Collective, also had a sound problem during his set. His music featured electronics that were not well balanced by the sound crew but nevertheless he launched into the set fearlessly. This was new music to many and it was interesting to see the eagerness of the crowd to understand what he was doing and their appreciation of the effects and colorizations he achieved as a solo performer. No doubt we will be seeing this demonstration of electronica in future bands from Africa as they seek out the wonderful sounds and bending that Deacon was able to achieve.

Leni Stern also from New York followed Deacon. She was accompanied by Selif Keita s band with which she has been recording in Bamako. Her spirit shone through as she led the awsome band through her set.

The next performer was Bassekou Kouyate whose ngoni performance is masterful. Bassekou is a true band leader as he give space for the members of his group to shine during the set. His wife sings with the band and her voice rang out over the audience to the driving music of the band. Festival attendee, Marian Leth from Denmark, termed it swinging music as the upbeat grooves spilled out one after another from Bassekou's fingers.

The night was capped by a showcase for Ali Farka Toure led by the famous Afel Boucum and Ali Farka s band. Beginning with the masterful playing of Afel, one after another the superstars took the stage to sing Ali Farka s hits. Babah Salah; Baba Djire, Haira Arby, Vieux Farka Toure and Ali Baba Cisse brought the evening to a close at close to 5 in the morning. But everyone stayed to hear the performers play the songs of the master.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Field Recording with CARE in Justicia, SA

Wills Glasspiegel checks in from South Africa via OUTSIDE MUSIC BLOG

A few days ago, I traveled north from Johannesburg with Tshepang Ramoba (drummer from BLK JKS) to make field recordings of traditional Shangaan music in the Limpopo region of South Africa.

Our trip was coordinated through CARE International as a part of an going project (CARE Music), which uses field recordings (and samples) of regional music to help fight global poverty.

We drove north from Johannesburg for nearly six hours, through the mountains of Limpopo -- Biggie on the radio, rondavel huts by the roadside and green as far as the eye could see.

Our destination was simple: a community garden supported by CARE in the outskirts of a small village. Mama Grace (pictured above, far right) was in charge, she explained to us how her vegetables were delivered along with medicine and water to people with AIDS.

Under the shade of a tree in their garden, the women shared many songs with us for the CARE Music project -- traditional songs, songs about their collective, songs for the rain, sad songs, religious songs, welcoming songs. Between songs, the women turned their fingers in the dirt, pulled weeds and seemingly plucked new melodies from the field.

listen to music sample here

After having lunch with Mama Grace -- hot pepper sandwiches + cold coke -- we traveled farther into the village. Beside a few rondavel huts, Tshepang noticed a set of small drums laid out on the dusty ground. I asked Mama Grace who they belonged to. Moments later, a traditional healer emerged from her hut. Someone cut the radio that was blaring house music and the healer started to play.

She was exuberant, talking to me in Shangaan like I understood every word. Others emerged to play other drums. We danced with the kids and played more drums. Some were made from ceramic pots, some from tin oil drums. The goat skin heads were tight and tuned. We stayed for a bit, then took the long road back to Johannesburg.

Report from Festival In The Desert - Mali

Our friend Chris Nolan sends us his first report from Festival In The Desert, and boy are we jealous!

From Chris:
The legendary Festival au Desert is about to begin. Proud to be marking its 10th Anniversary, this year's site has been located closer to Timbuktu to take advantage of the multiple celebrations scheduled to be held commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Malian Independence as well as major cultural events programmed by the City itself for the occassion.

The Festival has overcome many challenges due to the risks of holding any event in the North of Mali today. The Festival's 2001 founding was based on peaceful conflict resolution through cultural exchange and the preservation of a culture extremely affected by climate change and geopolitical forces outside of its control.

The program for the Festival includes major West African musicians such as members of the group Tinariwen, Oumou Sangare, Toumani Diabate, Bassekou Kouyate, Khaira Arby, Vieux Farka Toure and many more. Also performing this year are the Western musicians, Joshua Dibb from Animal Collective and The Sway Machinery from Brooklyn whose members include musicians from the group Antibalas.

The three day Festival is a significant economic development activity for this impoverished area. Western governments have up until this year helped with financial support. With this year's edition that support has been withheld. That last minute loss of funding has brought significant stress to the organisers. The actions of a small criminal element are being used as a justification for these Western actions. The Festival organization has been forced to seek bank financing to bridge the loss. While everyone involved in the Festival as well as the Malian government are vigilant towards a high level of security, Manny Ansar, the Festival's Executive Director, has expressed disappointment at the western embassy's withdrawal of funding support. "I will be going to the banks today to request loan funds to insure the Festival goes on as planned."

Even these financial and geopolitical challenges are not dampening the excitement that is building as the Festival begins to take shape. Stage platform, sound equipment and light along with water, food and tents are en route. Caravans of 4x4's and camels are converging on Timbuktu for the official opening on January 7th. A predeparture party is to be held tonight at the home of Vieux Farka Toure where many of the musicians and organizers will gather for a toast towards a successful 10th Anniversary Festival au Desert.