global musical mashup
Music is one of the most powerful ways that peoples both identify and express themselves. Through the digital mashup of diverse musical traditions, peoples from around the world are now beginning to create and express new global identities. During the course of the conference, there will be live musical events whereby musicians will perform mashups of different musical traditions, from Africa, the Caribbean, South America, North America and Asia.
The Global Musical Mashup Community Event will take place on Monday evening, June 19 from 7:30-10:00 pm, at the Middle East Bar & Nightclub, 472-480 Massachusetts Avenue, in Cambridge’s Central Square. The Middle East has several entrances; our event is in the downstairs music venue, and accessible from the entrance on Brookline St. (the entrance surrounded by murals).
The music of Gokh-Bi System of Dakar, Senegal is both ancient and contemporary. These six young musicians have combined their traditional drums with the music of the nearly forgotten ekonting; a beautiful and haunting string instrument from southern Senegal. To this sound, they add their unique four and five language rhythm-poetry, their unusual city and village dance styles, and a decidedly urban form of hip storytelling. And the result is something that the members of Gokh-bi- System call Ekonting Rap. Itâ€™s a heady blend of griot-magic and street-wise survival tactics. Itâ€™s American rap meeting up with the African branch of its family tree. Itâ€™s American hip-hop meets Senegalese mbaalax on the dance floor, on the festival stage, and in the dusty fields of back country Africa. Itâ€™s traditional, itâ€™s innovative, and itâ€™s an open invitation. And itâ€™s how and why Gokh-bi System is uniquely Senegalese, and balances the lessons of tradition, with the tradition of innovation.
They have been touring with Tony Vacca, Massamba Diop, and World Rhythms since December, 1999, as part of the Senegal-America Project, presenting diversity workshops and performances in schools and concert halls. They have also performed live with Angelique Kidjo, Damien Marley, Michael Franti (Spearhead), Culture, Toni Blackman, The Lost Poets, and Toots & the Maytals, among others.
Owen Plant is an acoustic artist out of Boston who writes, arranges and performs touching original songs that are often mixtures of pop and Caribbean music. He has packed rooms from Vermont to Key West and has enthusiastic followings on the West Coast and in the Midwest. Fans of artists like Dave Matthews, David Byrne, Beck, John Mayer, Jack Johnson, and Norah Jones instantly fall in love with Owenâ€™s sound. His catchy and universally appealing melodies attract people of all ages and backgrounds. His powerful lyrics are refreshingly honest and remarkably diverse, including various languages and themes.
Owen was exposed to Caribbean music on the island of Jamaica, where he was born. His music incorporates his vibrant heritage and echoes the styles of music greats Paul Simon, Bob Marley and James Taylor, singer/songwriters who, like Owen, went beyond acoustic-only music. People often describe his voice as a blend of Taylor, Marley and Cat Stevens, and yet itâ€™s distinctively his own. He is a rare combination of the consummate singer/songwriter (i.e., Jackson Brown), dynamic performer (Marley, Sting, David Byrne), and poetic lyricist (Dylan, Simon, Tracy Chapman).
Owenâ€™s musical development began at age 7 with classical piano lessons. He performed in a childrenâ€™s group, where he was taught African and Caribbean rhythms on the congas. The Childrenâ€™s Workshop, as it was called, toured the country playing traditional Jamaican and American pop songs, not surprisingly two of the major threads in the tapestry that makes up his music today. He didnâ€™t pick up the guitar or begin writing songs until 1995. Within days, he had penned his first song.
Owen expanded his acoustic repertoire while the front man of critically acclaimed, Boston-based bands, Shake Senora and Kumina, writing and performing pop songs and exploring and combining a variety of genres. There is a timeless quality in his pure and powerful voice, heartfelt lyrics, and progressive guitar style that he communicates from the stage with a compelling softness. Owen is one of this countryâ€™s raw-talent troubadours.
Iyeoka Ivie Okoawo is a Nigerian-American poet/singer residing in Boston. Winner of â€œPerformance Poet of the Yearâ€ and â€œSlam Poet of the Yearâ€ for the 2003 Cambridge Poetry Awards, Iyeoka initially gained national attention in the National Poetry Slam. For the past 5 years she has been a strong member of the Boston Slam Team 2000-2004. As a member of the 2000 Boston Slam Team, she won fourth place overall in the individual competition.
She has opened up for numerous artist such as Gil Scot Heron with the Jeff Robinson Trio and most recently Vivian Green performing at Afrocentrics. She has been featured at the House of Blues in Boston, the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, and Avalon where she opened up for the hip-hop/soul recording artist Musiq Soulchild. Iyeoka was showcased in Russell Simmonsâ€™ Def Poetry Jam airing on HBO and was a highlight on the late night CBS hip hop show The SOURCE ALL ACCESS.Combining her vocal talents, passion for writing and theater background, she captivates audiences with pieces that touch on a wide range of issues-love, women, culture, struggle, relationships, among many others. Iyeokaâ€™s performance was described at the National Poetry Slam as â€œa conversation stopperâ€ and a â€œrefreshing return to the essence of good spoken word poetry.â€
In 2004 Iyeoka released her second album LP â€œBlack and Bluesâ€ through Phanai Records.Black & Blues is the solo debut album from nationally award winning slam poet Iyeoka (sounds like- tapioca), formerly one of the leaders for one of Boston poetryâ€™s most artistically proactive groups, BlackoutBoston. The record is full of groove-laden, contemporary R&B singalongs, most recorded with a full band — heavy on the bass, keys, and poetry– and no reliance on sampling.Much of Black & Blues focuses on the songwriting and delivery with just enough attention paid to the groove.
Blending highlife, reggae, funk, and hip-hop, critically-acclaimed Pan-African fusion band SoulfÃ¨ge has electrified audiences from Boston to Ghana and beyond. The video for their first single, â€œSweet Remix,â€ from the album Heavy Structured (Plus), has aired in more than 50 countries across Africa, the Caribbean & Europe and the band has been featured in such major media as BBC Worldservice, NPR, the Boston Herald and MNET Africa.
Their latest record includes a remix of the West African classic â€œSweet Mother,â€ entitled â€œSweet 3Mixâ€ that features Grammy-winning Dancehall star Bounty Killer. The Noise: Rock Around Boston describes theirâ€™s as â€œan African-proud, drum-conscious hip-rap-reggae type of sound.â€ With nominations for a Boston Music Award, an Independent Music Award, a Boston Urban Music Award and a finalist slot in the 2005 John Lennon Songwriting Contest, SoulfÃ¨ge is redefining the sound & image of Pan-African youth music in the 21st Century.