After enduring several cancellations and postponements due to COVID-19, the 22nd Afro Roots Festconcert season will culminate and conclude with a multinational live stream concert featuring Sudanese chanteuse Alsarah and several of Miami’s new and legacy artists on Saturday, Sept. 12, beginning at 8 p.m.
Webcast live from the North Beach Bandshell, 7275 Collins Ave. in Miami Beach, and emceed by Afropop Worldwide’s legendary host Georges Collinet, other acts will include Spam Allstars, Johnny Dread, Cortadito, and Venezonix.
Alsarah is a singer, songwriter, and bandleader born in Khartoum, Sudan. She relocated to Yemen with her family, then to Brooklyn, NY, where she has lived since 2004. The East African retro-pop group Alsarah & the Nubatones were born out of many dinner conversations between Alsarah and percussionist Rami El Aasser about nubian “songs of return,” modern migration patterns, and the cultural exchanges between Sudan and Egypt.
Local favorite musicologist and spinmaster Andrew Yeomanson, AKA DJ Le Spam, founded Spam Allstars 23 years ago. The early days included hilarious spoken word records, mixed with a variety of instruments, and the lovely scent of Spam frying live on stage as a special snack to share with his non-vegan guests. More than two decades later, the band has a core group of musicians who have been performing an average of 150 shows per year, across the U.S. and with some very special trips to Europe, Canada, South America and South Africa.
They held a weekly residency at the legendary Little Havana club called Hoy Como Ayer, where the band forged what many have called a new Miami sound. Their “electronic descarga” is a reflection of the musicians and their cultures, training, and musical influences.
Johnny Dread quite simply transcends Reggae music and travels into a unique blend of world beat rhythms. His musical influences are as diverse as his rasta/Cuban-American background. With his undeniable rebel soul, he infuses Caribbean-influenced beats, Afro-Cuban, and rock sounds into every one of his songs. This combination provides the audience with contagious rhythms and powerful, soul-wrenching melodies.
He has taken the stage in international festivals, concerts and benefits with leading artists such as Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill and Israel Vibration, among others. A self-taught drummer, he has captivated audiences from around the world and has accumulated a loyal fan base all over the United States, Europe and South America.
Cortadito is a group that has simply revitalized Son Montuno, the late 19th Century country music from the mountainous regions of Eastern Cuba. Their sound can best be described as reminiscent of the Buena Vista Social Club. Jose Elias founded the group alongside Julio Cesar Rodriguez Delet in November 2011 after a 12-year stint with Conjunto Progreso that garnered him a Grammy nomination for his participation in the album Masters of Cuban Son. The duo was an instant success and were invited to perform at the Fingerlakes Grassroots festival in Trumansberg, NY.
They released their first CD titled Abriendo Caminos in 2012, which featured one original composition by each of the artists, including Delicias Caribeña (Elias) and Te Lo Perdiste (Rodriguez). They released Canciones de Julio in 2018 and were named “Best Latin Act” by the Miami New Times in 2019. The band occasionally backs legendary Cuban musician and Buena Vista Social Club member Eliades Ochoa.
Venezonix presents a fusion of Afro-Venezuelan rhythms with electronic music and technology led by Andres Ponce (agpa), co-founder of acclaimed national recording artists Elastic Bond. Their upcoming EP La Que Es features collaborations with Betsayda Machado and Parranda el Clavo, as well as a selection of genre-bending explorations mixing traditional Venezuelan instruments with futuristic beats and synthesizer textures.
The livestream also will include a Community Spotlight segment celebrating some of Miami’s cultural ambassadors. Scheduled to appear are: African instrument-maker and author Eddie Osborne (Ancestral Memories), the Circle of Brotherhood, Concerned African Women, and more to be announced.
Collinet, a native of Cameroon in West Africa, is one of the best-known and best-loved broadcasters on the African continent. Based in the U.S. for more than 25 years, Collinet’s French and English language music programs broadcast to Africa via the Voice of America have entertained millions of devoted fans. Afropop Worldwide is a Peabody award-winning radio program and online magazine dedicated to music from Africa and the African diaspora.
Viewers will be able to tune in to the free webcast on www.AfroRootsFest.com as well as on the festival Facebook page, which is located at fb.me/AfroRootsFest. The festival is being co-presented with the Rhythm Foundation, and is made possible through the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, Florida Department of Cultural Affairs, National Endowment for the Arts, City of Miami Beach Cultural Arts Council, Broadmoor Hotel, and Afropop Worldwide.
For more information, visit CommunityArtsandCulture.org.