The West Indies and West Africa converge for Africa Underground 2

June 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

Moko Jumbie

I can’t really see myself missing After Hours at African Art, when the Smithsonian opens the doors of its museum after hours to revelers who can dance, eat, drink, party, and enjoy the breathtaking exhibitions there. After being away from the country for a couple of months, I returned just in time to attend the second edition of Africa Underground. For the hugely successful first installment at the National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC in February, the organizers took us down south for a Brazilian samba-flavored showcase of art, music and culture. This time (the party was on May 20) the serving was distinctly West Indian in its character, yet an equally joyous and colorful exposé of the connection between the Caribbean and West Africa. The sold out event featured live music out on the grounds, and on the inside a DJ, poetry and spoken word, arts and crafts, and a talk on the West Indian/West African connection. I arrived a bit late, unfortunately, and missed a great performance in the garden by the moko jumbies (stilt walkers). But right after that Papa Wabe,
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“Felabration!” Birthday Celebration for Fela in DC

November 2, 2010 § 2 Comments

Something to check out if you: 1. Live in the DC area, 2. Love Afrobeat music and, 3. Have always wanted to get your face painted: “Afrobeat 4 ya Soul,” presented by Lunchbox Theory every month! Last week, in honor of Nigerian Afrobeat superstar Fela Kuti‘s October birthday, it was a “Felabration” at Bossa Bistro in Adams Morgan. (I’m still mad I missed September’s event, because Ghanaian hip hop star Blitz the Ambassador reportedly rocked the joint at Liv Nightclub at 11th and U Street!)
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Bino and Fino: New African Animated Children’s TV Show

November 1, 2010 § 6 Comments

From the creators’ blog: Bino and Fino is “a fun, educational, multilingual children’s cartoon set in modern Africa.” Produced by Nigerian animators from Abuja-based production company EVCL, the series tries to offer an alternative view of Africa to young children on the continent and in the diaspora. And to that I say: AMEN! The paucity of positive and inspiring information about Africa is a nagging source of frustration for those of us trying to rectify the problem. But with the continuous negative, patronizing, humiliating portrayal of Africa on every medium available to children (TV, radio, movies, books), the battle needs to continue, unabated and intensified! That’s what Adamu Waziri, one of the show’s creators, is attempting to do with Bino and Fino. Read More

New Video: Lady Pcoq and Mello-D at Bossa Bistro

October 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

Lady Pcoq performing at Bossa Bistro

“Who in here remembers State of the Union? On U Street?” asked Lady Pcoq of the audience during an interlude where her group Lady Pcoq & the Plumes was performing at Bossa Bistro in Adams Morgan. I was among a few who raised their hands. Back in the late nineties while shooting a documentary film about poetry and spoken word in Washington, DC, I spent many an evening at joints like State, Kaffa House and Mangos.

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A Patient By the Name of Gregory

October 26, 2010 § 1 Comment

His was surely one of the most soothing voices in all of reggae music. You could say he put the “lover” in Lovers Rock. The “Cool Ruler,” as Gregory Isaacs came to be known, joined the ancestors last night after succumbing to cancer in London, England. I was introduced to his sound at a young age, a time when reggae artists found they had their fingers firmly on the pulse of what moved the young masses in sub-Saharan Africa and other developing regions of the world. By the time I got to my teens, I found myself swaying to the groove of songs like “Substitute,” and “Sad to Know that You’re Leaving.” Born in Jamaica, he was a member of the vocal trio The Concords until he went solo in 1973. Isaacs was greatly influenced by American soul singer Sam Cooke, himself a silky-voiced crooner, and went on to release more than 300 albums of his own material in his 40-year career. His most commercially successful record, Night Nurse was recorded at Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong Studios in Jamaica. Its title track (my favorite Gregory Isaacs song) is probably his most popular. “Substitute is gonna put you down,” he sang back in ’81. I’m sure most would agree that there will likely be no substitute to this reggae giant and his music. You can read how other reggae singers, including some of his contemporaries, have reacted to his passing here. R.I.P. Gregory. Bless…



Retrospective on Lois Mailou Jones at National Museum of Women in the Arts

October 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

Portrait of a young Lois Mailou Jones

Found this out on the art newspaper Art Daily: Washington artist Loïs Mailou Jones was once told by a decorator that a colored girl wasn’t capable of producing the beautiful designs that she submitted as a textile designer to department stores. Hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, and studying in France in the 1930s, Ms. Jones ended up teaching at Howard University for 47 years, and continued painting until her death in 1998. She used watercolors and oils in many of her paintings.
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Video: Gyptian Live at Crossroads!

October 7, 2010 § 2 Comments

Gyptian blesses the mic

It was a wee bit nippy last night as patrons huddled next to each other in the long line outside Crossroads Nightclub and Restaurant. But just as I suspected, most of them were probably die-hard fans of Gyptian, the Jamaican reggae artist who was scheduled to perform live there in a couple of hours. The show was a special treat to the regular crowd of Crossroads’ “Liquid Wednesdays” staple, but tonight, Gyptian pulled out much more than just the college base.  Read More

African Inspired Designs at the International Couture Collections

September 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

Ean Williams of Corjor International takes a bow

Ok, I promised to bring you video of the DC Fashion Week event finale. Belatedly though I do, here is the quick preview! One of the things I really appreciate about DC Fashion Week is the effort made by Executive Director Ean Williams to include and promote regional designers in this international event. At the International Couture Collections show at the French Embassy, local designers, like Heydari, were front and center along with designers from the Ukraine, Colombia, Yemen (Top Rank – DC based), Guyana (DonJ’ Moda), and the Ivory Coast. Afrofusion TV got a chance to speak with the young 17 year-old Ivorian designer (whom I wrote about in the earlier post) and a couple of others. The consensus was that African fashion’s acceptance into the mainstream is on a steady rise. Keep your eye out for these fantastic fashion designers! Bless…

The Beauty and Fashion of Africa

September 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

It was more than a few nervous nellies we came across outside Zanzibar Nightclub in Washington, DC on the eve of the Ms. Africa USA Pageant. The contestants had just been wined and dined at a posh hotel, and now they were letting their hair down and trying to kill their nerves. Most of the lovely ladies we spoke to had spent close to two years prepping for that big night! If you visit our Photo Gallery page, you can see some of the photos that we took on the night of the finale. Well, here’s a sneak preview of the show we’re putting together on African beauty and fashion, featuring some of the dynamic women from Ms. Africa USA 2010, and also the terrific designers whose clothes some of them wore.

Stay tuned for the full webisode from AFROfusion TV!

Making the Most of it

September 3, 2010 § Leave a comment

Well, disappointment and setbacks always come with this TV biz, don’t they? We had our contacts, but they were unable to come through for us at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC. So, we can’t bring you good photos and video of the Distant Relatives tour. We considered this really important for our webisode on the development of Africa’s music scene, and how Africa’s cultures are featuring on the world stage. Oh well… However, while milling around outside the venue feeling rather crestfallen, we ran into hip hop intellectual and Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson! We walked right up to him and thrust our camera in his face, so he proceeded to break it down for us about “Distant Relatives,” the connection between Trenton and Trenchtown and Freetown, etc., etc…

Here’s a brief preview clip of Michael Eric Dyson chatting with AFROfusion’s Khadia Conteh:

More of what he said coming soon on AFROfusion TV… Stay tuned!

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