The long-running, award-winning Afro Roots Fest is coming back to North Florida on Friday, April 7 and Saturday, April 8, 2023 for a two-day convening that includes workshops, lectures, and a free, family-friendly concert. The first day, clinical component is a ticketed event at the University of Florida School of Theater and Dance (1800 McCarty Drive Gainesville, FL 32603). The next evening, a concert takes place at Bo Diddley Plaza (111 E University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601) featuring Jacaré Brazil, the UF Afropop Ensemble with special guest Titos Sompa, and the Odara Conjunto Folklorico beginning at 7 p.m.
“We’re thrilled to continue developing this relationship that we have with the University of Florida School of the Arts,” says Jose Elias, founder and executive director for presenting organization Community Arts and Culture. “This will be the first time the festival incorporates a more academic approach to our presentations. The caliber of artists that are participating in this program is unprecedented. We look forward to continuing to make this an annual destination event in Gainesville.”
Workshops and lectures include “Songs in Lukumi for Eleggua and Yemaya”, Afro-Cuban Dance classes like Rumba and Orisa for Yemaya, an all-levels percussion class that focus on guiro and bembe, a lecture about the sacred Bata, and an all-cast artist panel with a Q&A. Florida residents can enjoy a 50% discount on tickets by using the promo code “FloridaResident” and presenting a valid Florida ID on the day of event. Preregistration is required – there will be no options to pay for the workshops on the day of. Attendees should allow extra time to park on site and check in, which begin 30 minutes before class.
Jacaré Brazil provides a unique interpretation of Brazilian music through its usage and mixture of various Brazilian instrumental musical genres and rhythms such as the choro, waltz, maxixe, samba-choro, and bossa-jazz. The distinctive blend of musical instruments such as the violin, mandolin, saxophone, guitar, pandeiro (Brazilian tambourine), and voices create nostalgic sentiments with colorful and brilliant textures. Its repertoire celebrates and reminds us of Brazil’s rich music scenario, and is a vibrant part of the World Music and Graduate Program in Ethnomusicology at UF.
Founded in 2021, UF’s African Popular Music Ensemble specializes in the popular music of the African continent, with a special focus on Afrobeat, highlife, soukous, and African jazz. The ensemble, directed by Sarah Politz and Kenneth Metzker – both Affiliate Faculty in the Center for Arts Migration and Entrepreneurship – features students from the School of Music, musicians from the Gainesville community, and selected guest artists. Sompa, the colorful master dancer, choreographer, drummer, and healer was born in Brazzaville, Congo. He founded the band Les Echos Noir, which he still tours with, and is widely credited as a champion of the distinctive Congolese sound.
Odara Conjunto Folklorico is an all-star group comprised of all of of the individuals leading workshops on Friday: Yudisleidy Valdes, dancer, Ernesto “El Gato” Gatell, vocals, Roman Diaz, percussion, Sandy Perez, percussion, and Alain Fernandez, vocals. Afro-Cuban music fans can expect an explosive performance of traditional Yoruba chants and rhythms, mixed in with Latin jazz and a fusion of other world music influences.
Originating in 1999 at the now defunct Miami live music venue Tobacco Road, the Afro Roots Fest has become one of the area’s longest-running music festivals. Named one of the “10 Best Music Festivals in Miami” by the Miami New Times in 2017, it was crowned the “Best Music Festival” in the 2019 “Best of Miami” issue. Past performers have included Sun Ra Arkestra, Alsarah, Fatoumata Diawara, Fulu Miziki, Salif Keita, Vieux Farka Toure, Toubab Krewe, and Roberto Torres, among many others.
Since 2018, the event has become a nomadic affair that now includes separate concerts in markets such as Gainesville, Jupiter, Doral, Hollywood, Islamorada, and Key West.
Tickets for the workshop day are available online at bit.ly/ARFG2023. Funded in part by Visit Gainesville, Alachua County.
For more information, visit AfroRootsFest.com.
ABOUT COMMUNITY ARTS & CULTURE
Incorporated in September 2002, Community Arts and Culture, Inc. is a Miami-based nonprofit organization that fosters an appreciation and understanding of a vast assortment of arts and cultures through workshops, lectures, and artistic performances in local communities for individuals of all ages and social backgrounds. The organization is celebrating 20 years of serving the community in 2022. Their signature event, Afro Roots Fest, is embarking on its 25th season of programming.
For more information, please visit CACMiami.org.
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