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 »

Reparations, Race and Religion at 10th African Diaspora International Film Festival

August 28, 2016 § Leave a comment

This year the African Diaspora International Film Festival celebrated its 10th anniversary in Washington, DC at the Marvin Center on the campus of George Washington University. Over the course of three days, from August 19-21, the festival showed narrative and documentary feature films and short films from just about every corner of the African diaspora. The biographical documentary BadddDDD Sonia Sanchez, (2015) shared the opening night with another movie, Discipline. Noted Black Arts Movement poet Sonia Sanchez herself was in attendance together with one of the film’s directors Sabrina Schmidt Gordon, for a Q&A which was followed by a VIP reception where attendees

Sonia Sanchez (right) takes questions with the director of BadddDDD Sonia Sanchez, Sabrina Schmidt Gordon

Sonia Sanchez (right) takes questions with the director of BadddDDD Sonia Sanchez, Sabrina Schmidt Gordon

got to mingle, take photos with, and get autographs from Ms. Sanchez. The closing night films focused on celebrating the African religions still vibrant in Brazil and Cuba. Oggun, an old classic by Afro-Cuban filmmaker Gloria Rolando and Yemanja: Wisdom from the African Heart of Brazil, (2015) directed by Donna Roberts, who participated in a lively Q&A after the film’s screening. « 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 »

DC Artists Wayna and Wes Felton hold CD Release Show, hosted by Asheru

November 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Promoted by DJ Munch’s Hedrush, Grammy-nominated Ethiopian born artist Wayna and another DC local Wes Felton are both celebrating their new album releases at the U Street Music Hall on Sunday November 10. Hosted by longtime DC hip hop artist Asheru (Unspoken Heard, Boondocks intro), the show is sure to bring out the creme de la creme of the DC indie soul and hip hop scenes. Wayna’s

Wayna (courtesy Wayna's Facebook page)

Wayna (courtesy Wayna’s Facebook page)

new release, “The Expats,” has been described as “brilliant” by none other than the Washington Post; she got the Grammy nod for her cover of the Minnie Riperton classic “Loving You,” back in 2009. “Imagine the Future” is Wes Felton’s new effort, produced by Kenny Allen, another local artist. Asheru himself is about to drop his new full length release, “Sleepless in Soweto.” Sounds like its going to be a great Veterans Day weekend in the District of Columbia. If you’re going be in DC, don’t miss this fantastic offering. Bless…

Interview: Hugh Masekela on Songs of Migration and Heritage Restoration

October 25, 2012 § 2 Comments

Hugh Masekela and Sibongile Khumalo (Photos courtesy Kennedy Center)

Listening to Hugh Masekela speak on art, music and politics would make you think he is the eternal pessimist. But that would be only when it comes to politics. The 73 year-old trumpeter, composer and singer recently performed Songs of Migration at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC together with Sibongile Khumalo and a cast of singers, dancers and musicians. He took a moment to sit down with Kwame Fitzjohn from The African World on MHz to rap about his new show, politics, mines in South Africa, and what he optimistically calls “Heritage Restoration.” Songs of Migration, produced by Sibojama Theatre and directed by James Ngcobo, is Masekela’s tribute to late 19th century migrants from all over Africa heading to work in Johannesburg’s mines. Backed by a five-piece band, it is an effervescent display of song, dance « Read the rest of this entry »

A Ziggy Marley Love Fest at Washington, DC’s Howard Theatre

June 15, 2012 § 1 Comment

Ziggy Marley performs at the newly renovated historic Howard Theatre in Washington, DC

Ziggy Marley, the eldest son of reggae icon Bob Marley, is on a Wild and Free Tour through the USA and Canada. And on Wednesday June 13, the five-time Grammy Award winner lit up the stage at Washington, DC’s historic Howard Theatre with a mix of songs from his own repertoire and a sprinkling of his father’s classics. The tour takes the name of his latest studio album, which was released last June, and features guest appearances from the late Heavy D and Ziggy’s own son Daniel. Media were given a three-song limit of time to shoot photos and video; I arrived late but managed to squeeze off a few shots « Read the rest of this entry »

Loide: Cool Notes From an Afrolusophone Chanteuse

August 16, 2011 § 3 Comments

Loide belts out Afrolusophone jazz at Bohemian Caverns

When I think of Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde I invariably
think of Eduardo Mondlane, Samora Machel and Amilcar Cabral. Phrases like  A luta continua, and the heat of the revolutionary struggles in Portuguese controlled Africa come to mind. But on a late July night at the Bohemian Caverns in Washington, DC the cool, jazzy sounds of Loide’s music turned them into places of love and longing as she transported us back to where her roots lie. Loide was born in France with both Mozambican and Guinea-Bissau heritage, and then raised in California. That rich, diverse background filters through her music; she sings in Portuguese and English with influences ranging from Sarah Vaughn and Miriam Makeba, to Sade and Cesaria Evora. On that night in July it « Read the rest of this entry »

Freshlyground Rock the Black Cat, Sahel at Bossa + More Great Concerts!

July 4, 2011 § 2 Comments

Sahel

To all Americans: Happy Independence Day! The weekend has been great already. I checked out two great concerts in the past few days. And they were all about the beat. First was Sahel, a Washington, DC-based African Diaspora group, playing at Bossa in Adams Morgan for Lunchbox Theory’s Afrobeat for ya Soul. Fronted by Jean Francis Varre, they ran through an infectious mix of music from virtually all over the globe: Samba, Salsa, Reggae, Mbalax, and Zouk. Stewart Bernard II killed that bass guitar; Tosin Aribisala, who has played with Femi Kuti, was amazing on the drums, and Didier Prossaird was all over the keyboards. From their website:

Sahel is inspired by tradition and dedicated to the progress of music that moves the world.”

Anyone present at Bossa that Thursday night can testify to that! You can catch Sahel again at the Washington, DC Africa Day Festival July 16 at the Takoma Community Center.

Freshlyground at the Black Cat

It’s a shame that South African best pop export Freshlyground is not very well-known in the US, but on this their first ever American tour that may well change. By the time the show promoter introduced them, the crowd at the Black Cat on

Freshlyground's Zolani Mahola

U Street was already roaring their approval; lead singer Zolani Mahola and her crew wasted no time, launching into their popular song “Fire Is Low”, to the clapping accompaniment of the audience. Freshlyground’s die-hard fans were up front, singing along, but by the time the band got to their huge hit “Doo Be Doo,” they had everybody in the crowd waving their hands and chanting. Freshlyground continue their North American tour in Philadelphia, before doing other dates in Canada and California. Afrofusion hopes to have more for you from  Freshlyground and Sahel later on, stay tuned! Other upcoming concerts of note: Kassav, pioneers of the zouk sound, will be in DC July 29 for a one-night only show (at the Crossroads), promoted by Kololo Entertainment, the same promoter responsible for Freshlyground’s DC show. Also at Crossroads, Beres Hammond and Wayne Wonder as part of their Cool Out Sundays Concert Series, August 7. See you there! More photos from the Freshlyground and Sahel shows below and on our gallery page. Bless…

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,
« Read the rest of this entry »

Interview with AFROCUBA’s DJ Asho

March 6, 2011 § 3 Comments

On the first anniversary of AFROCUBA, DJ Asho sat down with Afrofusion to talk about how he developed the idea for the event, and how far it has come since the first edition. On Thursday February 10 at Sutra Lounge in Washington, DC’s Adams Morgan neighborhood, the event kicked off with a screening of the classic documentary Cuando Los Espiritus Bailan Mambo (When the Spirits Dance Mambo), by Marta Morena Vega. The night also included a live (and lively), very « Read the rest of this entry »

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