Creole Carnival Artists:
One night, rural Jamaican musician Brushy (born Andrew Chin) dreamed of the guitar under his bed. He knew, suddenly, that if he picked it up and dedicated himself to playing it, he’d get to see the world. The instrument in question—a battered but ...
Just in time for Carnival season, globalFEST’s Creole Carnival Tour (February 2016) honors African musical currents alongside a fusion of sounds from the Americas, that have ignited the sounds of Carnival, the pre-Lent festival celebrated globally that’s everyone's favorite excuse for a party. From Brazil (Casuarina) — the superpower of celebration — to Haiti (Emeline Michel) and Jamaica (Brushy One String), each culture has its own rich traditions of music, dance, costumes, and cutting loose. The tour’s international trio of artists will delve into the musical riches of Carnival, and explore how magic and religious fervor intersect in a madcap, no-holds-barred soiree.
Brushy One String: Jamaican music soaked in soul, played on a single unstoppable guitar string
Emeline Michel: Shimmering, rhythmic sounds with a call for change and hope from Haiti’s leading lady
Casuarina: Rio’s modern Afro-Brazilian samba stars play timeless classics and their own songs
Across the region, Carnival is a big deal, and not just during the wild days of the festivities themselves. It’s a constant focal point for music and culture making. “Carnival inspires and focuses artists’ work year round,” explains globalFEST co-director Bill Bragin. Though born from carnival celebrations, samba has made an indelible mark on music across the planet, one reason young ensembles like Casuarina remain relevant and wildly popular.
Carnival is also a time when a multitude of cultural influences collide and mesh. All the sounds, looks, and ideas that unfold during the party in places like Port au Prince and Rio speak to the hybrids and mixtures at the heart of cultures of the Americas. African beliefs meld with Catholic practice, and European instruments take on novel sounds and forms; Brushy’s one-stringed guitar is just the latest example of Caribbean repurposing.
“There is so much conversation about the creolization of culture, about people who bring together traditions and cultivate cultural hybrids,” notes globalFEST co-director Isabel Soffer. “These processes are much more specifically associated with Haiti and Brazil, but even if you look at Brushy, he’s bringing together elements of reggae and soul and hip hop. Creole Carnival speaks to the traditions of hybridity.”
Beyond the party, Carnival has other roles, both sacred and political. Social roles are inverted, and norms challenged, both by letting loose and by making explicit statements through music, movement, and attire. Emeline Michel manages this kind of multifaceted expression with charismatic grace, speaking out about the issues impacting her homeland yet never straying from the beauty of the song, the joyful force of the beat.
For globalFEST, crafting a special tour of interconnected performances is a logical next step. From its inception, the organization has always aimed to infiltrate the broader market for live music in North America, to put international music before more and more diverse audiences, by gathering presenters to hear carefully selected global musicians every January during New York’s annual presenters conference, and by supporting past festival artists on future tours via the globalFEST Touring Fund.
The response to globalFEST On the Road has been very enthusiastic because many presenters have been coming to globalFEST for years and have been looking for a way to present the acts they’ve seen there. “This program gives them a creative, timely concept, quality performers, and credibility based on globalFEST’s heritage,” says globalFEST co-director Shanta Thake.
Creole Carnival is the non-profit’s first On the Road project, using the organization’s curatorial clout and thoughtful contextualization to present artists with great appeal to new audiences.
“From a mission standpoint, we’re doing exactly what we always strive to do: to get artists deeper into US markets, especially new markets. We’re bringing Creole Carnival to more than thirty cities large and small that may rarely see artists from Brazil, Haiti, and Jamaica,” Thake reflects. “The presenters we’re working with are university Performing Arts Centers and independent presenters alike, an impressive group of partners that speak to the quality of the lineup.”
“Working directly with the globalFEST team to help expand and spread their vision of what global music means in the market today is an exciting project and something that I personally am very passionate about,” enthuses Tobias Tumarkin of CAMI, who has worked closely to make this extensive tour a reality. “globalFEST have been the tastemakers and leaders in global music in the 21st century, and I believe that they offer some wonderful strategies and tools for presenters who want to bring international music to their communities. We look forward to sharing those ideas and growing audiences and awareness through globalFEST On The Road.”
“Having Brazil, Jamaica, and Haiti on the same stage is a spicy, winning combination, a flavorful cocktail because of our political, cultural, and musical history and background. This project is a sure ticket to travel and understand the diversity of the world we are in. Therefore an open door to tolerance and compassion towards others,” says Emeline Michel. “globalFEST brings a wider spectrum and possibilities for having my music exposed to places I might never be able reach. I am also excited about the possibility to create moments on stage and new music with fellow touring companions.”
02/19/2016 Washington, DC GWU-Lisner Auditorium
02/20/2016 Wilmington, DE Grand Opera House
02/23/2016 Toronto, ON Massey Hall
02/24/2016 Burlington, VT Flynn Center for the Performing Arts
02/25/2016 University Park, PA PSU-Eisenhower Auditorium
02/26/2015 Brooklyn, NY Littlefield
02/27/2016 Amherst, MA Fine Arts Center
02/28/2016 Rochester, NY Nazareth College Arts Center
03/01/2016 Oxford, OH Miami University-The Pavilion
03/02/2016 Richmond, KY EKU Center for the Arts
03/03/2016 Clemson, SC Brooks Center for the Performing Arts
03/04/2016 Durham, NC Fletcher Hall Auditorium
03/05/2016 Charlotte, NC Blumenthal PAC-McGlohon Theater
03/7/2016 Newberry, SC Newberry Opera House
03/11/2016 Tallahassee, FL FSU-Ruby Diamond Auditorium
03/12/2016 Cutler Bay, FL S. Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center
03/13/2016 Tampa, FL Straz Center for the Performing Arts
03/16/2016 Champaign, IL University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
03/18/2016 Chicago, IL City Winery Chicago
03/19/2016 Brookfield, WI Wilson Center for the Arts
03/20/2016 Appleton, WI Fox Cities Performing Arts Center
03/24/2016 Santa Fe, NM The Lensic Performing Arts Center
03/25/2016 Scottsdale, AZ Virginia G. Piper Theater
03/26/2016 San Diego, CA Copley Symphony Hall
03/29/2016 Denver, CO Newman Center for the Performing Arts
03/30/2016 Fort Collins, CO Lincoln Center Performance Hall
03/31/2016 Salt Lake City, UT Kingsbury Hall
04/02/2016 Los Angeles, CA The Luckman Theatre
04/03/2016 Aliso Viejo, CA Soka University of America
04/05/2016 Berkeley, CA Zellerbach Hall
04/07/2016 Davis, CA Mondavi Performing Arts Center
04/08/2016 San Luis Obispo, CA Cal Poly Theatre
04/12/2016 Bellingham, WA Mount Baker Theatre
04/14/2016 Seattle, WA University of Washington-Meany Hall
04/16/2016 Berkeley, CA Zellerbach Hall
04/17/2016 Carmel, CA Sunset Theatre