Hyphen American at Gallery 102

February 15, 2018 § Leave a comment

Installation from Ethiopian-American artist Helina Metaferia

At Gallery 102 on the campus of George Washington University last week a timely new exhibition opened  to the public, kicking off with riveting performances by three artists from diverse backgrounds addressing the fluidity, ambivalence and anxiety that can come from a hybrid cultural identity. Entitled “Hyphen American,” it features several multidisciplinary and performance artists whose works challenge the dominant perception of immigrant communities and people from different cultural and social backgrounds.

Fittingly, the idea behind Hyphen American came from two first generation Americans whose similar experiences with their own families and community were the force behind their collaboration. Tsedaye Makonnen, an Ethiopian-American multidisciplinary and performance artist and Alexandra “Rex” Delafkaran, an Iranian-American sculptor, performance artist and curator approached the project from the viewpoint of language and the way it can lay « Read the rest of this entry »

Yemi Alade: A Mama Africa for the Millennial Generation

August 11, 2017 § Leave a comment

Yemi Alade put on a party of a show at the Howard Theatre in Washington, DC

Fans had started screaming for Nigeria’s music superstar Yemi Alade long before she came onstage at the Howard Theatre in Washington, DC, as they endured an extra-long opening set with a multitude of dancers, rappers and singers. When she finally burst onto the stage with her dancers, electrifying the crowd with two of her hit songs “Tangerine” and “Tumbum,” one could not help but conclude that we were witnessing the evolution of a bonafide African music legend. No matter who’s top of the bill, you can always expect a party when an African musician puts on a concert, and Yemi Alade did not disappoint. She engaged the crowd in raucous call and response chants to her songs, and invited several guests onto the stage to participate in a mini dance-off. The 28-year-old singer and songwriter describes her music as “afropolitan,” or “Afro-highlife, a meld of Afrobeat, R&B, pop, and highlife.” Before her DC show, Yemi Alade sat down with « Read the rest of this entry »

Researcher Asheda Dwyer On Chile, Garvey and Rastafari.

July 17, 2017 § 2 Comments

One of the benefits of attending an event like the AfroLatiino Festival in New York City is the cultural learning experience. In 2015 Afrofusion TV got a new lesson on Garifuna communities in the African Diaspora. This time around we ran into a young researcher, Asheda Dwyer, who let us in on the work she’s doing on Garvey, Chile and Rastafari, and the afrodescendant communities that are still fighting for recognition there. Turns out that Chile has one of the fastest growing Rastafari populations in the world. Dwyer, who is based in Toronto, Canada, is intent on exploring and doing further research on the roots of the Pan-African movement happening in Chile. The northern port city of Arica, the area in Chile with the greatest number of African descendants, had around 8,500 Afro-Chileans at last count by the National Institute of Statistics (INE). However, « Read the rest of this entry »

Powerful Tribute to Diaspora Women at The AfroLatino Festival NYC 2017

July 15, 2017 § 3 Comments

Amara La Negra performs at the AfroLatino Festival NYC July 8

It was a powerful tribute to Diaspora women at the 5th edition of the AfroLatino Festival NYC, and it couldn’t have been done at a more important time, as they have essentially been the backbone – as well as at the forefront – of the struggle for basic human rights and justice. At a time when the very existence of AfroLatinos and other Afrodescendientes is still questioned, spaces and events like this two-day festival are vital to the survival and evolution of Diaspora and Afrolatino communities. The festivities started at the historic Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, in Harlem, with a AfroLatin Talks symposium and a Liberación Film Festival. Afro-Peruvian singer/songwriter Susanna Baca received « Read the rest of this entry »

Protoje talks Reggae with Afrofusion TV

June 26, 2017 § Leave a comment

Protoje performs at the Howard Theatre in Washington, DC

A couple of years ago when Prince made that statement at the Grammys, “Like books and  Black Lives, albums still matter,” he might as well have been making reference to reggae star Protoje, whose 2015 album Ancient Future is definitely one of the best reggae albums from Jamaica in quite some time. In a world of mixtapes and leaked tracks, Protoje has led a new wave of reggae artists who are creating some really innovative and inspirational music, with Protoje and his Indiggnation Collective, already putting out three and half albums since 2011. In what is really a growing but tight community of creative artists, the movement dubbed reggae revival by author and activist Dutty Bookman has led to some stellar collaborations between musicians like Jesse Royal, Kabaka Pyramid, Jah 9, Chronixx, and others. One of the most popular – “Who Knows,” by Protoje featuring Chronixx appears on Ancient Future; the song has become a staple at « Read the rest of this entry »

Kyemah McEntyre unveils debut design collection at Harlem Fashion Week

February 17, 2017 § 1 Comment

Kyemah McEntyre with a replica of her famous prom dress

Kyemah McEntyre with a replica of her famous prom dress

She “broke the internet” with an Instagram photo of her African print prom dress in 2015; now 19 year-old Kyemah McEntyre is the featured designer at Harlem Fashion Week’s runway show in her debut collection at New York Fashion Week. Afrofusion TV was there as Harlem Fashion Week Founders Tandra Birkett and Yvonne Jewnell put together a radical, magical show that featured emerging and established designers, with part of the proceeds going to the rebuilding of the Slave Museum at Senegal’s Goree Island. Check out the video we put together, with interviews from Kyemah McEntyre, Yvonne Jewnell, Tandra Birkett, and celebrity stylists Brandon Hood and Jonathan Boderick. Tandra and Yvonne are also organizing a symposium on “The Business of Fashion” next month, March 25th in Harlem, to help educate new and established designers on ways to build their business. Be sure to check it out! You can also watch our highlight video on our Facebook page.

Some photos from the show are below. Bless…hfw-shots-1-11

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Models wearing Kyemah McEntyre's Mind of Kye Designs

Models wearing Kyemah McEntyre’s Mind of Kye Designs

Yvonne Jewnell (c) poses with models wearing her designs

Yvonne Jewnell (c) poses with models wearing her designs

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Smithsonian African Art Awards Dinner Honors Contemporary African Artists

November 2, 2016 § Leave a comment

The Smithsonian’s historic Arts and Industries building in SW Washington, DC was the venue for the first Annual African Art Awards Dinner on Friday October 28, hosted by the National Museum of African Art. Museum director Johnetta Betsch Cole launched the fundraising dinner as a way to honor established and up-and-coming artists, and also to show gratitude to major philanthropic organizations that have supported the museum and its mission.

Yinka Shonibare, MBE giving remarks after receiving his award

Yinka Shonibare, MBE giving remarks after receiving his award

The 2016 awardees are Kenyan born artist Ato Malinda and Nigerian-British Yinka Shonibare, MBE, one of the most important contemporary artists in the « Read the rest of this entry »

In “Baobab Flowers,” African diaspora women challenge Education Inequality

June 2, 2016 § 1 Comment

BF Still

In the ever changing world of filmmaking, from the technologies used in its creation to the way we view the end product, a few things remain constant. For artists of color the world over, especially those of African descent, one of these is the importance of telling our own stories. Brazilian filmmaker Gabriela Watson obviously takes this very seriously; in her new documentary film Baobab Flowers, she tackles the problem of education inequality from an African Diaspora perspective by following two women high school teachers in Sao Paulo, Brazil and Philadelphia, USA. It is a film that seeks to show the endemic  problem of low quality education in underserved black communities worldwide by focusing on two unrelated women who are nonetheless similar in their approach to teaching and to their relationships with their students, and also in their struggle to overcome such abject inequality. « Read the rest of this entry »

African Arts and Fashion on Display in DC

May 26, 2016 § 4 Comments

AA Fashion Showcase_

AAFWDC Founder Uche Ibezue (l) with Maria, makeup artist.

When Uche Ibezue of Omak Designs started African Arts and Fashion Week DC, her idea was not simply to bring attention to the nation’s capital as a fashion force. Grabbing the attention of the fashion market, both national and global, was an abiding aspiration. Last week, the third annual AAFWDC featured a panel discussion and fashion showcase, and many of the burning issues regarding African fashion were raised.

A few years ago it was nice to see a number of celebrities wearing African print designs to red carpet events worldwide. Famous names like Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Solange Knowles and her sister Beyonce, Angela Simmons, and even Gwen Stefani were all spotted in gowns and complete sets that were made from African prints like Ankara and Kente. The popularity of those designs has since trickled down to the young ones, the rebellious youth that are always finding innovative ways of expressing themselves. In that vein, a young lady “broke the internet” when she created a stunningly beautiful African print gown, posted it on Instagram, and « Read the rest of this entry »

A Bunny Mack Retrospective: Sierra Leone’s Music Icon

July 15, 2015 § 2 Comments

"Let Me Love You" single cover

“Let Me Love You” single cover

Let’s just be honest: “Let Me Love You (My Sweetie)” by Bunny Mack has one of the funkiest bass lines ever laid down on a dance track. Composed by Bunny Mack (producer Akie Deen shares writing credits on the song as well), it was a continuation of a style of music he had developed with Deen, where he fused disco with calypso, African and funk grooves. “Let Me Love You (My Sweetie)” became one of the biggest African releases; it made the British pop charts in early 1980, reaching Number 76, and cracked the top 10 dance chart there, where it stayed for about 4 weeks. With its slamming bass line and infectious chorus, the melodic tune became a dance classic throughout the African diaspora, generating in the process a certain confusion about who sang it and which country it originated from. Play it for virtually anyone from the African diaspora, and the odds are that they have either partied to it, or played it themselves if they are DJs. When an African American friend asked me excitedly a few years back if I had heard “this new African song” as she put it, and sang “Let Me Love You,” I had to patiently inform her it’s old, but it’s a classic, and that’s why it seems new.

Bunny Mack with Akie Deen (Photo credit:Sewa News)

Bunny Mack with Sierra Leonean music producer Akie Deen

It has been a few decades now, but I do remember well when Bunny Mack was interviewed by a radio show host back in either late ’79 or early ’80s Sierra Leone. This was fascinating to me because I had never really considered Sierra Leone music in terms of solo artists. We had a bunch of semi-successful bands with decent hits, like Afro National, Sabanoh 75 and Supercombo, and each had solid musicians that were very talented in their own right. But the last really « Read the rest of this entry »

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