In this issue we've covered global black music all around the world. Black Travel Profiles Include: Jazz Vocalist, Andromeda Turre; Conductor from Orchestra Noir, Jason Rodgers; Reggae Legend, Tony Rebel; & Miami Band, Batuke Samba Funk!

For more black travel profiles and stories, visit us at


Jason Rodgers

and the New

Sound of Atlanta

Orchestra Noir

Publishing Your

Travel Memoirs

Hola Morocha!

The Intersection

of Music, Sports

& Community

Uncle Luke

House Music

Takes Residence

in Mykonos


A Guide to the

Bajan Harvest



Black Music

Andromeda to Zydeco

JULY 2016



Archivists Note

“Music is a world within itself

With a language we all understand

With an equal opportunity

For all to sing, dance and clap their hands….”

– Steve Wonder, Songs in the Key of Life (1978)

Greetings Readers!

Music unites us all. No matter the creed or culture, music

can always be counted on to tell the stories of the day. It is

the barometer that measures the heart of a culture and the

angst and strength of the sub-cultures. With this in mind,

we present our issue on Global Music.

In this issue we got the chance to speak with musicians,

conductors, and vocalist from Reggae to Classical. You’ll

find their stories both heartwarming and inspiring. Conductor

and musician Jason Rodgers (#1) will have you

smiling as he recalls chasing his music teacher down as a

kid. You may be super engrossed in the history of Zydeco

(#2) as written by Folklorist Barry Ancelet and Diana Ogilvie’s

summation of modern Marijuana Tourism (#3) will

have you bugging. Who knew?

Lastly, if you read nothing else, then check out Lynnée

Denise’s article on House DJ Osunlade. His residency

in Mykonos could not be at a doper location. House

music from a premier DJ at Scorpios? Seriously...

we’re booking tickets soon.

Oh, and did we mention we caught up with

Uncle Luke?

The writers and contributors in this

issue have out done themselves and

we’re excited to present their work

to you. As always, thank you for




We want to know how to

serve you better.

An Urban Black

Travel Mag





By Rodney Goode

Arguably, growing up a black man in

America is one of the most difficult

journeys one could undertake. Who

has not heard that the odds are powerfully

against a black man surviving to the age of

25? Or what about the odds that if he does,

he will be incarcerated?


in the street?

How does one cope with mental illness when

it still is a hard discussion in the black


How do the influences of

gods among men like

Lebron, Obama,

Malcom, and


In Invisible Man, Got the Whole World

Watching, Mychal Denzel Smith manages

to reach into his black, millennial psyche,

extract both the good and the not so good

and help his readers make sense of it all

(or not). After all, how does one reconcile

(without help) living in an age where there is

a black president but those sworn to serve

and protect callously murder men of color


a black


As one moves through

the pages of Invisible Man,

it becomes instantly clear to the

reader, that these questions plague(ed)

Smith to the point where he had to write

this memoir. He had to somehow free these

thoughts, no doubt to make room for more.

Smith, uses his perspective on both the historical

and cultural events of his lifetime to

explore the identity of the black man and

his role in the future of the black community.

The pages of Invisible Man are full of

insight, anger, pain and a myriad of other

emotions and once immersed in this journey

with Smith, the reader will either be perplexed

by it all or feel like Smith stole their

thoughts and put them on paper. Either way,

the reader may never be the same.

Smith not only makes the invisible seen,

his thoughts resonate long after his book

is placed on your shelf. It’s reminiscent of

looking at the sun and after turning away

and closing your eyes, still seeing the image

Black Educators, take note: Consider making

this book part of your reading curriculum.

Griots Republic gives this

book 5 out of 5 stamps.






The Intersection of Music,

Sports & the Black Community

We caught up with Luther Campbell, aka Uncle Luke, from the notorious

Two Live Crew, while his team was competing in the First

Annual Duke Johnson High School Football 7 on 7 challenge in Miami.

Check out what he and other professional players had to say

about giving back to the community.

By Wayne Farquharson (@I_MWayne)

Having been recently introduced to art

and the enjoyment of museum going,

you would think that my favorite piece

would be a Lebrun or a Monet, but instead,

down a quiet hallway and to the right, I came

across what initially appeared to be a relatively

mundane courtyard at The Palace de Versailles.

Upon further inspection, I noticed the

perfect color contrasts between the textured

stair landings and the runners, which makes

each step more pronounced. The stone railings

with the marbling clearly visible provides

depth and the weathered gargoyles, which

appear to have been bronze but oxidized to

a light green create a boundary that directs

your sightlines to the stairs, where the aforementioned

texture was captured.

Of the over 1000 photos taken in Paris, this by

far, is my favorite for it shows how beauty can

be found by simply looking for and appreciating

the details.

Place #GriotsRepublic on your IG photos and you too may be chosen.



Summer Travel Adds Capital to the School Bank

By Dr. Miah E. Daughtery

As summer days stretch into summer

nights, one way to ensure students are

prepared for the next school year is by

exploring a foreign land. Research has shown

that the summer months are critical for student

academic growth. Summer vacations with extended

learning for children and teenagers are

correlated with academic success. Rich travel

experiences equate to exposure to different

languages, cultures, foods, and people. These

experiences--termed cultural and social capital--act

as a savings account that students continue

to draw from during their academic careers.

Cultural and social capital are linked to higher

academic achievement. Cultural capital equals

non-financial assets like skills, talents, tastes,

clothing, material belongs, and credentials that

advance social standing. Consider a student

who visits Costa Rica with his parents during

the summer. The family may take day trips to

the Volcan Arenal volcano and the Parque Nacional

Manuel Antonio, learn to order casado or

arroz con camarones, and see a Spanish performance

at the Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica.

At the volcano, the student learns about the

history of the country’s most active volcano

and eruptions. In the park, the student closely

observes rainforest life and biodiversity. Sleepy,

slow moving sloths, brightly-colored toucans,

iguanas, and monkeys populate the park while

an educated guide with a telescope points out

various animals and plants and provides background

of each. The student learns quickly

that a dish of rice and beans is called gallo pinto

and picks up sayings that allow interactions

with locals.

At the Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica, the student

watches a performance of Sueno de una

noche de verano--an adaptation of William

Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

In a week, a student could feasibly experience

Costa Rica from a cultural, linguistic, and social

perspective, each interaction a deposit into

the bank of cultural capital.

Cultural capital is not the only capital students

accrue while traveling; during visits to foreign

lands, ripe and ample opportunities to build social

capital are available as well. Social capital

is the collection of networks and relationships;

the stronger, more diverse the network, the more

social capital one has. In the U.S., social capital

can be easily identified in organizations like

Jack and Jill or Greek-lettered organizations. As

students engage in network-broadening interactions,

they benefit.

Traveling is an easy way to

naturally broaden students’

networks. When students

leave their neighborhoods,

they meet other young

people who speak a different

language, eat different

foods, engage in different

sports activities, and have

different family structures.

These relationships build a

sense of cultural and personal

awareness which they

bring back to the classroom.

Capital pays off in the classroom.

In biology, the student

carries the experiences

of the Costa Rican rainforest. The student

interacts more easily in Spanish, because of

the authentic opportunities to speak the language

with Costa Ricans. When reading A Midsummer

Night’s Dream in English, the student

visualizes scenes from the theater, improving

comprehension. Throughout the school year,

parents and students maintain healthy and

positive relationships with summer families by

connecting through Facebook. These relationships

could blossom into student exchange opportunities,

thus broadening cultural networks.

Prior to embarking on adventure, parents can

build high interest while promoting activities

that directly impact the classroom. With adult

support, students--even as young as kindergarten--should

engage in a webquest about the

country, searching for interesting facts, words,

phrases, art, and culture. Students should help

plan the traveling experience by working with

parents to determine “must sees” and “must

dos” based off of their research.

Students should identify one aspect of the culture

they find most compelling and engage in

extended research around that one idea. For

example, a student interested in food can cook

a variety of recipes of the

country before the visit

and read interesting articles

about the country’s

foods and diet. During

the visit, the student

could sample two or three

recipes in the native land.

Traveling and exposure

should include your little-

-and not-so-little--ones.

The summer months

are meant for continued

learning, and traveling

can ensure that learning

takes place. Social and

cultural capital deposits

in your child’s school

bank can be withdrawn in

the classroom and benefits

pay off for years to come.

Miah Daughtery, Ed.D has been an

educator for fifteen years, primarily reading

and English for all grades 6-12. She is

currently the Coordinator of K-12 Literacy

for the Tennessee Department of Education.

When she’s not thinking about issues

around equity, access, and literacy, she is

most likely baking phenomenal chocolate

chip cookies, brunching, wine-tasting, or

traveling. Follow her on Twitter at DST6N01

for information on all things literacy.




By Alexandra Stewart

We are now in the full swing of summer

– the kids are officially out of school,

family reunions and weekend cookouts

are in full effect. We are also in

the height of vacation season for those

living in the U.S. and summer tunes are

at the center of it all. So I’m keeping

in line with all things “MUSIC” this issue

and hipping you to some really cool

portable options for listening to your

favorite tunes while you’re on the go!

Chant Bluetooth

Portable Audio System

“Chant Down Babylon” has never

sounded better coming from a

portable speaker! Straight from

The House of Marley brand, you

simply can’t go wrong when it

comes to style, eco-friendliness

and quality. Get up to 8 hours of

continuous play. Perfect for any

excursion, foreign or domestic. -


Bose SoundSport

In-Ear Headphones

Not only are these Bose ear buds sweat

and weather-resistant,they are made

in 3 different sizes that will conform

to the shape of your ear so that

they comfortably stay in place! And

there’s really no need to

talk about the sound

quality... because Bose.

Comes in a variety of

colors - $99.00

Ivation Bullet Super-Portable

Rechargeable Bluetooth Speaker

If you love to bike ride then this portable speaker

is for you. It’s very light-weight and comes with

mounting straps to attach the speaker to your

handlebars. It allows you to play music from diverse

sources using either Bluetooth, a micro SD card or

AUX line. Speaker includes 4 different colored skins

and mounting straps. - $29.99

FlipBelt Zipper

When you are on the run (literally)

this belt is just the thing to keep

your precious tunes safe and in

place. The large secure zipper pocket

can hold everything from your

passport to your smartphone. The

belt has moisture wicking and quick

drying capabilities and comes in a

variety of sizes and colors. - $34.99

Pantheon Waterproof Mini Cube

Bluetooth Speaker

The best thing about this speaker is

that it is completely waterproof

and can be submerged in up to 5

ft. of water. It’s super compact

and can easily fit in your

pocket, thus you can take

it wherever you go! The universal

Bluetooth compatibility

allows you to connect effortlessly

to everything from Motorola to

iPhone to Android. Don’t sleep. -





Patrick George Anthony Barrett, better known

by his stage name Tony Rebel, is a Jamaican

reggae deejay.

Born in Manchester Parish, Jamaica, Barrett

was initially a singer, appearing as Papa Tony

or Tony Ranking in local talent contests and on

sound systems including Sugar Minott’s ‘Youth

Promotion’. His first release was the single

“Casino” that appeared in 1988 on the MGB

record label, although his career took off when

he worked with Donovan Germain’s Penthouse

setup in the early 1990s. He had a big hit in

1990 with “Fresh Vegetable”, and established a

singjay style of delivery.

In 1992 he signed a deal with Columbia Records

who released Vibes of the Times, a predominantly

reggae fusion album, the following year.

It spawned some of his more well known international

singles such as the title track “Vibes of

the Times” and “Nazerite Vow” both of which

had accompanying music videos. In 1994 he

founded his record label, ‘Flames’. That same

year, he held a reggae festival named Rebel Salute

in Mandeville, Jamaica. It has developed

into an annual event through his production

company, Flames Productions, and is held every

year on his birthday.





What is ‘global black music?’ When I

heard the topic, I didn’t even know

how to speak to it. After all, when

I travel the globe, Drake’s latest emotional

lament or the shrill sounds of “Single

Ladies” have dominated nightclubs and

pop up parties from Peru to Phuket. [Easy,

bey-hive; easy, young money millionaires;

your sheeple is showing.] And while many

non-Americans (also) think of ‘black music’

and aspire to whip it and nae-nae like

a venerable trap queen, ‘global black music’

is far more than the refuse usually

pumped through the radio.

So, how do we discover and discuss global

black music? Even I, a 29 year-old black

male who listens and dances to everything

from semba to salsa; kompa to kizomba;

and techno to trap, had difficulty finding a

place to start. Thankfully, after a few days

of thought and (of course) a bit of musical

inspiration, it hit me. ‘global black music’

isn’t a vague idea that we need to struggle

to define - ‘black’ music is imbued with the

strength, joy, and resilience of our people.

It’s what’s been used to communicate

messages across miles of terrain, what’s

been used to record history, what we move

to when we’re happy, what gets us ready

for a hunt or what gives us the courage to

ask someone to dance. Global black music

is pumped throughout the world with the

heartbeat of our homeland! The heartbeat

of the motherland can be heard in every

song and all one needs to do to find it, is

to hear the beat of the drum.

Now, it may be a bit hard for even younger

generations to understand, but before

the hard-hitting baselines and synthesized

eats of today existed, music was played

with *gasp* actual instruments! While

time continues to show us that with only

a few instruments, an innumerable array

of songs and melodies can be composed,

one common thread among most black

music is the drum.

So how did our music become global and

how has our rhythm impacted nearly all

other genres of music? Simple. The answers

lie in the largest migration of people

from the continent of Africa - ever - the

slave trade. While most American history

books (at least, the ones that still discuss

the facts of slavery) touch on slave routes

and its impact on the creation of America

as we know it, it’s rarely communicated

or discussed that over the course of three

centuries, over 12.5 million Africans were

taken as slaves. Of the roughly 10.5 that actually

survived the inhumane journey, only

around 6% of those Africans were taken to

North America. The rest? The Caribbean,

Central America, and South America.

Across the vast and unforgiving waters of

the Atlantic those millions of black bodies

didn’t come alone; they carried with them

the soul of our homeland. The soul can be

felt in every song through every era. All one

needs to do to find it, is to feel the beat of

the drum.

While a heartbeat sustains life and passion

is produced from the soul, our human body

contains the heart and the soul. Through

this flesh, our heart and our passion express

themselves to the rest of the world.

So although we became divided, our soul

and heartbeat would just find opportunity

to endure longer and beat louder.

From West Africa, the Yoruba, Igbo, Ashanti,

and other groups native to Ghana, Benin,

Guinea and more were brought over.

Accompanying them, the Bantu people

(primarily from Angloa, Mozambique, and

the Congo region) soon made the voyage.

Brazil, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela

soon became home to roughly 50% of all

slaves brought over. The remaining 50%

went to the Caribbean and North America.

Although we were tired, beaten, broken,

and mourning and although native singing

and dancing was largely outlawed, our

strength and our hope was as unbroken as

the rhythm of the djembe and the dunun

that you could soon hear secretly escaping

into the night.

From the Kokosawa drumming group to

the Gahu drumming groups, over time our

music began to leak out in pockets. In the

late 1800’s and early 1900’s, after slavery

as we knew it was largely abolished, our

music had been altered and influenced by

those native to the Americas, the Spanish,

Portuguese, and Europeans. However, anybody

that feels and hears our music knows

that it’s identifiably ours.

You can hear it in the conga drums that

are now popular throughout the world, but

were birthed in Cuba. These very congas

are simply modernized “ngomas drums,”

which are traditional Congolese drums,

and are the undercurrent

of ‘Son’

music (and dance),

widely considered

the parent of hugely-popular



When they took

away the drums,

our people made

drums out of empty

fish crates. Today

this instrument,

called a cahon, is a primary element

of Afro-cuban Rumba and can be heard

played in Cuba and along the Peruvian and

Colombian shores. However, it wasn’t just

descendants of the Bantu that contributed

to the instruments, music, and the

dance of black music, for birthed in the

belly of the double-sided Yoruban batá,

Cumbia began spreading from Colombia

and throughout the rest of Latin America

around the 1940s.

From east to west our

hearts and bodies

were taken, but the

separation didn’t

break us; it made our

drum beat louder.

When they took away our drums, our brothers

in the Dominican Republic fashioned

double-sided drums out of empty wine

barrels. These drums were called Tamboras

and are used heavily in merengue music

which is very popular in the Caribbean.

From the carimbó drum, which is also a

popular dance in Brazil (also called carimbó),

we learn of the batuque music and

dance from cape verde.

While this piece could go further to discuss

the trail blazed by the drum that lead

to additional impacts on the global music

scene, including soca, calypso, jazz, kompa,

blues, disco and soul, funk, rap, hiphop,

reggae, rock & roll, house, and many

other genres, it’s more conclusive to say

that we have become the beat of the drum.

From east to west

our hearts and

bodies were taken,

but the separation

didn’t break

us; it made our

drum beat louder.

When drums were

abolished (as they

were in Trinidad in

the late 1880s),

we overcame and

made steel drums.

At every opportunity

our people have overcome, and I think

you can feel that in the music.

You see, studying global black music is

studying global black history and one can’t

separate our history, the thing that unites

us together as a people and that unites us

with the earth we live on, from the drum.

Whether your ancestors were carried to

Brazil or Barbados, Panama, Puerto Rico,

or Jamaica, our music isn’t hard to find.

Take a deep breath and pause, feel, and

listen. The drum is in you.





Juleon Lewis has been traveling the

world for months at a time for the

past two years. From Mexico to Chile

to Indonesia he has enjoyed fulfilling

his passion of traveling. For tips on

the best places to go, follow his

adventures on his blog at

By Raquel Wanzo



© Tiphany Overzat



© Tiphany Overzat

Wade in the Water

Wade in the Water,


Wade in the Water

God’s gonna

trouble the water.

~19th century Negro spiritual

The lyrics above are known all

around the world. They’ve been

recorded by everyone from the

Fisk Jubilee Singers, who were the first

known singing group to record Wade in

the Water, to Blues Legend Big Momma

Thorton, the noted multi-genre

singer, Bob Dylan and the jazz great

Ramsey Lewis and the Ramsey Lewis

Trio. This Negro spiritual and several

other songs like it, including City Called

Heaven, Steal Away to Jesus and Soon

Ah Will be Done, are all the beginnings

of the legacy of gospel music.

Gospel music is born out of the spiritual

and blues tradition. The impact

of the traditional Negro spiritual cannot

be understated considering many

of the songs mentioned above have

been recorded by various artists from

various genres under the guise of the

gospel tradition. It is the essence of

the African American oral tradition.

For the Negro spiritual is not simply

about the praise, reverence and worship

to Jesus or God; it is also about

a longing to be free and the journey

it takes to get there. For example,

‘Wade in the Water’ is advising slaves

who are escaping bondage how to trek

through the water to make their way to


These songs were sung a capella or

without music; just the syncopated

rhythm provided by the voices and

hand claps (in church or during celebrations)

by the slaves themselves.

The musical presentation is probably

the biggest distinction between the

Negro spiritual and gospel music. For

just as the spirituals provided hope

and guidance, so does gospel music.

Like the traditional Negro hymns, gospel

lyrics are born out of the Christian

context and further communicate not

just messages of spiritual hope but

also perseverance. Gospel music is

born out of the blues and jazz tradition.

Probably the most famous blues

musician and writer to define early

gospel is Thomas A. Dorsey.

Dorsey’s genius was in combining elements

of his musical education, the

Chicago sound and lyric writing ability

to produce songs that not only spoke

to the soul lyrically but also rhythmically.

His most famous song is Take

my Hand, Precious Lord and was writ-










ten out of Dorsey’s despair over the

death of his wife, Nettie, in childbirth.

The song is a haunting confession of

grief’s simultaneous feeling of fatigue

and hope. It has been published in over

40 languages and sung by artists such

as Nina Simone, Elvis Presley, Aretha

Franklin and Beyonce. Its continued

popularity and global appeal speaks

to the strength of gospel music internationally.


reception of the

African American

spiritual genre

has always been


Gospel music has long had global appeal.

International reception of the

African American spiritual genre has

always been generous. In the late

nineteenth century and the early twentieth

century, early gospel quartets like

the Fisk Jubilee Singers and Orpheus

McAdoo’s Virginia Jubilee Singers had

success in South Africa with McAdoo’s

group performing there for a five years;

but they also traveled to other parts of

the world like England, Australia and

India. In the 50’s and 60’s artists like

Mahalia Jackson and the Clara Ward

Singers performed in Europe and Vietnam.

At the end of the 60s, there was a shift

in the traditional gospel sound to the

more contemporary gospel sound,

which features more of a rhythmic section

with drums and bass tones. Edwin

Hawkins is considered one of the pioneers

of this modern genre of gospel.

His song, Oh Happy Day, reached not

only national success but also global

success. In 1969, it reached number

1 on the charts in Europe. This song

has been published in several languages

and like Dorsey’s Take My Hand

Precious Lord, has been recorded by

several artists here in the states and

overseas. Hawkins’ success garnered

success for others like Gospel Music

Workshop of America, Shirley Caesar

and internationally awarded James

Cleveland, whose success overseas began

in the 60s and continued until his


The appeal of gospel music continues

to grow overseas. Gospel artists are

performing in Africa, Australia, across

Europe and Asia. Performers like Donnie

McClurkin, Fred Hammond, Israel

Houghton and Kirk Franklin perform

abroad. The secret of success of gospel

music is really no secret at all. The

music has universal appeal. The spirit-filled

messages of hope, resolve and

worship transcend race and nationality.

McClurkin in the 2011 article, “Face of

Gospel Music No Longer Just Black or

American,” is quoted as saying “Gospel

music is not black and not American.

It is global... there are so many different

genres of gospel music. There are

so many cultures that make up gospel

music. The thing about gospel music is

that its message stays the same even

though the music changes with the

times.” McClurkin’s point underscores

the evolution of gospel: whether in the

States or abroad, it’s clear the inspirational

musical messages are here to




Raquel Wanzo is a native of

the Bay Area. She is a writer,

lover of poetry and black

history and currently, she is

a part-time English Professor

at Laney College in Oakland,




Do not psyche yourself

out by assuming that

you need to be built like

Ciara or Cam Newton...

A First Timer's Unofficial Guide to

the Bajan Harvest Festival

By Lincoln Blades

It was April 1996 and I was a seventh-grader

sitting in geography class,

anxiously waiting for my turn to participate

in our class assignment. Our teacher

had asked us each to draw the flag of the

country that represents our family’s heritage,

and I was excited as hell because I

knew that my flag would be one that no

one else in the class (hell, no one else in

the entire school) could claim. As we went

around the room, our teacher finally got to

me and said, “Lincoln, where is your family


“Barbados!” I quickly replied, with a beaming

smile and a large sense of pride.

Her response: “Oh? Which part of Jamaica

is that?”

Twenty years ago, there wasn’t much

knowledge or recognition of the multifaceted

beauty and historical significance of

the West Indies as a whole. Our very different

regional accents were collectively regarded

as Jamaican patois, and the only

times many first-world folks even realized

there were uniquely separate islands with

divergent backgrounds was either when

they were planning their Caribbean honeymoon

or when they were listening to the

Beach Boys’ “Kokomo.”

But, in just two decades, thanks to the

advent of the internet and the popularity

of social media, not only do people know

about the existence of all of our different

islands from Anguilla to Turks &

Caicos, but they also now know about

the individual cultural experiences that

make each separate island a remarkable

and unmistakable destination.

For many islands, socially and economically

speaking, carnival is the unequivocally

large attraction that lures

visitors from all around the globe.

You better get yourself

an expertly made

Cockspur Rum Punch

or any Mount Gay mix

you can find.

The popularity of celebrations such

as the Trinidad & Tobago Carnival,

Spicemas in Grenada and Crop Over

in Barbados, has spawned a sprawling

cultivation of Caribbean carnival

culture in places where, to be honest,

I didn’t even know enough West Indians

lived to justify any kind of parade

or festival. Now, there are carnivals in

rather unexpected American cities like

Columbia, SC, Worcester, MA, Dallas,

TX, Hartford, CT and Minnesota - yes,

Minne-frostbite-sota. Go to Google

right now and type in your city, and

there’s a good chance you’ll find a carnival

going down close by.

The popularity of these small festivals

is nothing short of amazing. It is

beautiful to see people from all different

walks of life openly celebrating our

culture. To go from people not knowing

anything about my island, to them

viewing it as a first-class destination

that they must visit to “jump up” is

heart warming. But, while people lose

themselves in euphoria at their local

celebrations, there are a couple things

you need to know before you hop on

a plane and decide to take part in the

larger, island celebration. I want you

to have fun without wasting your hardearned

money or making a fool of


Historically, “Crop Over” literally

marked the end of crop season, the harvesting

of sugarcane. It is a uniquely Barbadian

festival that started during the

colonial period and celebrations involved

music and dancing- still mainstay to present

crop overs. Since I’m Bajan, here are

some unofficial tips you need to know before

attending Crop Over.




While “Crop Over” is the name of the entire

celebration, Grand Kadooment or “Kadooment

Day” is the actual parade where

the beautiful costumes are put on full display.

Do not psyche yourself out by assuming

that you need to be built like Ciara

or Cam Newton (whose jersey number, 1,

represents his entire body-fat percentage)

to rock one of the costumes in the street.

Believe it or not, the constant puritanical

body shaming, that many of us have grown

accustomed to elsewhere, is definitely not

prevalent in the West Indies when it comes

to playing Mas. It’s about having a great

costume and having a great time. Everyone

is there to lose himself or herself in

the vibe, and the best way for you to do

that is not as a spectator, but as a full participant.



It’s the BEST in the world (yes, I said BEST).

Listen, don’t you come all the way to Barbados

to ask for the same alcohol you buy

at the liquor store near your house or request

the same cocktail you get at the frowsy

lounge you frequent. Barbados makes

the best rum on Earth (fight me!), which

means you better get yourself an expertly

made Cockspur Rum Punch or any Mount

Gay mix you can find.


As much as I love KFC and Chefette (our

local fast food spot), do not fly all the way

to the gorgeous island to live off of a fried

chicken and fries diet, which you can obviously

get back home. Make sure you have

some bakes, fish cakes and flying fish. In

fact, make sure you head down Oistins in

Christ Church on a Friday night and enjoy

the fish fry. It’s Bajan food at its finest. Also,

make sure you get up bright and early on a

Saturday morning and find yourself a good

spot to eat some black pudding and souse.



In the words of Aubrey Graham, if you’re

reading this it’s too late. Ok, it’s not completely

too late, but some really great parties

have already sold out, so if you’re interested

in enjoying all that the party scene

has to offer, hop online and purchase tickets

asap. There are dockside boat parties,

there are boat cruises, there are nightclub

parties, there are day parties, and there

are even breakfast parties. Don’t plan on

sleeping - you can do that in your cubicle

when you get back home.


This is not me saying that you must bury

your head in books and cram like you’re

trying to pass your SATs. It’s just about being

able to acknowledge the context behind

everything that you’re seeing. Learn about

the bands, the artists and the people. Think

about it like this: you can watch and enjoy

Hamilton without knowing anything about

American history, but if you have some

clue about it, you will enjoy the production

a lot more.


The worst mistake you can make is confusing

Crop Over for Spring Break, and Barbados

for a raucous South Beach mansion

for drunk, unmannerly college kids. Bajans

know how to have an awesome time, but

we’re also a tiny but strong, prideful, and

God-fearing nation. If you’ve never experienced

an authentic island carnival, that

might seem oxymoronic to you. But don’t

let the way people are dressed and the way

people are dancing confuse you into thinking

you’re on a Hedonism resort. This is not

the place for musty behaviour and slackness,

but it’s the best venue in the world

to completely lose yourself in great music,

great food and great people.

The only warning I will give you is this: you

will have such an amazing time; it’s gonna

be hard to enjoy your local festival the

same way. In fact, you may come down with

a condition called ‘carnival tablanca’ which

is essentially festival withdrawal symptom,

making you pine for the next big carnival

to occur so you can wukk-up yourself. And

if you’re on a budget like I am, get used to

uttering this phrase while you wait for next

year’s Crop Over:

“See, the way my bank account is set up...”

When Lincoln Anthony Blades is not writing

for his controversial and critically acclaimed

blog, he can

be found contributing articles for many

different publications on topics such as race,

politics, social reform and relationships.

Lincoln is an author who wrote the hilariously

insightful book “You’re Not A Victim, You’re

A Volunteer.” He is also the host of the

upcoming news show, All Things Being





Maestro Rodgers is currently the Founder

and Music Director of Orchestra Noir, the

Atlanta African-American Orchestra.

Jason has appeared with many exceptional

orchestras in the U.S. and abroad and in

August of 2015 Maestro Rodgers was

awarded first prize in the London Classical

Soloists Competition and will be joining

them in concert during their 2016

European tour.

In 2014 Maestro Rodgers was also named

winner of the International Conducting

Competition held in Atlanta, GA and first

prize winner of the conducting competition

awarded by the Orchestra da Camera

Fiorentina in Florence, Italy. These

prestigious accolades have resulted in guest

appearances in North America and abroad,

making his European debut in 2014 with

the Orchestra Di Toscana Classica.

For more information about Jason Rodgers,

visit his website at

For more information about Orchestra Noir,

go to



Osunlade and Yoruba Records launches

“Rituals” Residency in Mykonos, Greece

By Lynnée Denise


As a DJ, I’ve traveled to three different

continents in search of evidence of

the fact that house music is a form

of global black music, or what I call, electronic

music of the African diaspora. As

a Californian native, my relationship to

house music was limited, it wasn’t in regular

rotation of California 1980s’ black radio

nor was it played in my home. Part of

the reason for this is because house music’s

early development is linked to migration


Chicago and Detroit,

two of the most popular

great migration

destination sites, are

the cities where the

music was first produced

by its founding

artists, many of whom

traveled regularly to

New York gay clubs.


created a sound that

can be described as

the space between

Saturday night club

culture and Sunday

morning church. This

means that house music has black southern

gospel and New York queer-oriented

disco roots.

At the core of house music is a pulsating

vibration that can be likened to a heartbeat.

The pulse, also known as the ‘four

to the floor” beat situates house music

in a diasporic context. Brown folks from

places like Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican

Republic, and who were also part

of the NYC disco scene, can be credited

with bringing regional rhythms like salsa,

merengue and even music associated with

Santeria, to the sound of house music as


This layered origin story of house music explains

why I traveled to attend the premier

of Yoruba Records residency launch party

in Mykonos, Greece. Club Scorpios, where

the “Rituals” residency will be hosted from

June until September, was stunning and

curiously posh which inspired questions

about Greece’s declining economy and its

tourist industry in response to it. The venue

overlooks the Aegean Sea, serves designer

cocktails whilst you sip surrounded

by Moroccan décor. Walk a few steps away

from the bar and you’ll find yourself outside

on the dance

floor, under the


At the core of house

music is a pulsating

vibration that can

be likened to a

heartbeat. The pulse,

also known as the

‘four to the floor” beat

situates house music

in a diasporic context.

I traveled to Greece

to hear DJ and producer


‘bless the decks,’

with his special


touch. Osunlade

has been based in

Santorini, Greece

for the past ten

years and is the

founder of Yoruba


I had a chance to chat with Osunlade, a

black expatriate and St. Louis native, and

we discussed his connection to house music

as a practicing Ifa priest and his life

in Europe. When asked about the relationship

between house music and African traditional

spiritual practices, he referenced

the heartbeat and of course the trancelike

percussive rhythms that drive the music

and guide those who surrender themselves

to it.

One of the most interesting parts of our

conversation was his response to my question

about the impact of Prince’s death on

lack music—he’s a huge fan of Prince,

so I knew to ask. He spoke about learning

from Prince’s business model. Osunlade

felt the exploitive and oppressive nature of

the music business and wanted to protect

his creative process and protect his profit.

He decided to no longer work under the

influences of corporate ideals and started

his independent label, Yoruba in 1999 (no

pun intended).

The venue overlooks

the Aegean Sea,

serves designer

cocktails whilst you

sip surrounded by

Moroccan décor.

Through the process of becoming independent

he found Ifa, which he defines as

an ancestral based culture/religion based

on nature, deriving from the Yoruba people

of West Africa (Nigeria) and practiced

by the enslaved Africans during the forced

dispersion to the Americas.

Osunlade’s sound also reflects his childhood

Midwest experience where there was

full access to jazz, blues and variations of

soul. I was excited to learn more about his

work as he invited me to his temporary

home (really a compound), provided by

the club for his guests who will fly in from

around the world to spin at the residency.

When we pulled up at two in the morning,

Osunlade was outside collecting lavender

to make oil for close friends that he’ll share

as he travels. He offered us fresh ginger

tea and gave a quick tour of the villa. He

pointed out the healer’s quarter, as tarot

card readers and reiki workers are part of

the residency as well. He then showed us

the recording studio and the live DJ set up

to be available for guests.

Yoruba records, headquartered in Greece,

is a refreshing break from the formulaic

pop music we can’t escape in America, or

worldwide for that matter. Find the music

of Osunlade and Yoruba Records if you are

open to a more intentional and intimate

relationship with music that transcends

borders in all forms.

Lynnée Denise is a DJ whose

work is informed and inspired by

underground cultural movements,

the 1980s, migration studies,

theories of escape, and electronic

music of the African Diaspora.

Beyond the dance floor, her work

provides “Entertainment with a

Thesis.” Visit her blog at www. for more



Written By Jendella Benson


was sixteen, two years too young to

be fighting my way through the tangled

and sweaty mass of bodies that

filled the club, but I was there nonetheless.

When I finally managed to stumble

to the bar, I croaked out an order for a

large glass of cold water before collapsing

on the countertop. My limbs were

dead and aching, my throat was like

sandpaper, and my head felt light and

fragile after hours of non-stop dancing.

Through the stabs of pain I heard the DJ

switch tracks and I recognised the song

immediately. Before the bassline had a

chance to drop, I had bulldozed my way

back to the dance floor. All physical discomfort

and functional needs were forgotten,

my glass of cold water was left

untouched on the bar where my head

had lain.

That’s what Grime did to me then, and

to be honest it still has that effect now.

In fact, play ‘Oi!’ by More Fire Crew at

the wedding reception of the average

twenty-something Black British couple

and witness another level of “turn up”.

The infectious energy, trance-inducing

basslines, and gritty subject matter

is often seen as intimidating to more

– ahem – mainstream audiences, and

some club owners have even banned

Grime from their establishments, but

then what else is new? Grime was made

in the margins for the marginalised.

Grime is us.

The genre came from east London,

economically one of the poorest areas

of the UK. It was birthed around the

time when the British tabloids were in

full panic mode about gangs of black

boys running the streets of Britain killing

each other. The Operation Trident

initiative, launched by London’s Metropolitan

Police to tackle gun crime and

homicide in the black community, was

introducing a new level of harassment

and surveillance to the lives of young

black men everywhere. My hometown of

Birmingham was experiencing its own

moral panic, after a drive by shooting

resulted in the deaths of Charlene Ellis

and Letisha Shakespeare, and brought

the city’s gang rivalries to the forefront.

The crucible of systematic disenfranchisement

and haphazard violence of

urban Britain was the backdrop for

Grime’s origin story. It began with Wiley,

a member of UK garage crew Pay

As U Go, who began producing a different

kind of music that he dubbed “eskibeat”.

If the good vibes of garage felt

like an endless summer, Wiley was ushering

in winter. The sound was starker

and colder, which lead to him christening

his new tracks with names like

‘Eskimo’, ‘Ice Rink’, and ‘Igloo’. This

new direction kept the frantic tempo

of garage’s 140 beats per minute, but

was sonically more sparse and urgent.

The production was decidedly electronic,

with clicks, bangs and crashes that

didn’t even pretend to sound like any

musical instrument you had ever heard

before. As more producers followed after

Wiley, Grime began to take shape. It

was dark, industrial, and for the uninitiated,

it was thoroughly perplexing.

This truly new genre of music felt like

punk rock for the tower blocks – the

large concrete housing estates and towering

rectangles of low income apartments

that had been thrown together

after Britain, the East End in particular,

was ravaged in the Second World War.

In this melting pot of cultures, Grime’s

slang drew from Jamaican Patois and

dancehall music, while its energy and

MC-driven nature came from jungle and

drum-and-bass. Though closely related

to the party-friendly garage that bubbled

away in British clubs in the late

nineties and early noughties, the tone

of Grime was far-removed from the silky

vocals about fine liquor and even finer

women. Grime’s aesthetic was black

tracksuits and low hats in place of the

flashy Moschino that its older brother

wore. Garage’s Gucci loafers were

replaced with Nike Air Max, and thick

gold chains were now tucked into hoods

instead of on brazen display.

From its nexus of Bow, east London,

Grime spread via pirate radio stations,

vinyl, homemade music videos

and independently produced media

such as Lord of the Mics and Risky

Roadz. I kissed my first boyfriend to

the soundtrack of Grime MCs battling

back-to-back on sets – Grime’s equivalent

of a rap cypher – recorded live off

of illicit radio broadcasts onto cassette

tapes. As time went on, we even got our

own music channel. If you were lucky

enough to have a Sky TV subscription,

you could tune into Channel U and see

kids who looked and sounded just like

you strutting in front of cameras loaned

from local college media departments

for music videos that would also double

up as coursework for someone’s Media

Studies qualification. This industrious

spirit created a soundtrack to our lives

that actually sounded like us, instead

of the American exports

that were the

only permutation of

blackness allowed

visibility in the mainstream


East Londoner and

former Wiley protegee

Dizzee Rascal

became Grime’s

first breakout star, signing to an actual

record label and beating Coldplay to

win the Mercury Prize for Best Album.

Dizzee’s album ‘Boy in da Corner’ still

stands today as one of the epitomes

of the genre and in many ways ‘Boy in

da Corner’ is Grime’s ‘Illmatic’. To bemused

middle-class music journalists

Dizzee was like an oracle, immortalising

the lives and mindset of a Britain

that for the most part was swept aside

Of course such

a virulent strain

of rebellion was

never going to go


and overlooked. “Don’t talk to me ‘bout

royalty ‘cause/Queen Elizabeth don’t

know me, so/how can she control me,

when/I live street and she lives neat,”

he spat forcefully on ‘2 Far’, while on

‘Hold Ya Mouf’ he directly addressed

our prime minister when he declared

“I’m a problem for

Anthony Blair.”

Of course such a virulent

strain of rebellion

was never going

to go unchecked,

and as Grime rose

in prominence, the

police got involved,

leaning on club owners

to stop giving Grime artists a stage.

Record labels could not contain their

interest, but were still weary, not quite

sure what to do sitting across the table

from the kind of young men that they

would usually cross the road to avoid.

In reaction to this, the enterprising nature

that enabled our scene to thrive

kicked into action once again. MCs began

to switch up the lyrical content, the

production softened away from the industrial

sounds of sirens and grating

basslines, and transformed into a style

of EDM that would open doors and pad

out bank accounts. Grime had evolved,

and some began publicly declaring that

it was dead.

But can a genre so potent ever truly die?

On the underground Grime was spreading,

like all contagions, further and further

afield. MCs were getting bookings

outside of the multicultural havens of

the bigger British cities, and we were

in awe as we watched footage of mostly

white crowds losing their minds to

Grime crews like Boy Better Know in

far flung European cities. Even America

began taking note. By now Dizzee had

already collaborated with UGK, and Jay

Z and Memphis Bleek had even rapped

doubletime over Lethal Bizzle’s Forward

Riddim at the Royal Albert Hall with

an actual live orchestra mimicking the

imitation string sounds from the original

track. Skepta assumed the role of

Grime’s ambassador when he vocalled

a Grime remix to Diddy Dirty Money’s

‘Hello Good Morning’, and since then

has schooled Drake on Grime history

and brought through the “mandem” in

all black with flamethrowers for the historic

Kanye West Brits performance that

horrified white audiences everywhere.

Grime’s influence continues to grow,

and the Grime kid generation who menaced

public transport with their impromptu

sets and tiny speakers have

taken the mantle from the pioneers,

flying the flag for the United Kingdom

of Grime near and far. Chip continues

to tour previously uncharted corners

of the UK and Stormzy was just one

of Grime’s stars to bless the stage at

SXSW this year. The power of the internet

has also spread Grime as far afield

as Australia and Japan. As something

that feels so iconoclastically British,

seeing Australian and Japanese MCs

adopt our culture right down the dancehall-influenced

slang, and iconic “oneline-flow”

is strangely both satisfying

and disorientating.

While I’m not as involved in the scene

as I once was, the success of Grime

still feels very personal. Grime grew

and matured as we did – or is it more

accurate to say that we grew and matured

as Grime did? Grime’s triumph

over the odds of disenfranchisement,

opposition, commercialisation, and

blacklisting feels like a parable for the

lives of a generation that was born into

one recession and came of age in another.

Grime has endured longer than

they thought it would, reached heights

they said it never could, and it’s a homegrown

reminder that so can we.

Jendella Benson is a photographer, filmmaker

and writer with experience in creative and

brand direction. Her work has been featured in

The Guardian, The Metro, The Voice Newspaper,

and also screened on London Live and OH TV.

Alongside exhibiting both in the UK and Canada,

she’e done public speaking appearabces at conferences,

university debates and also on TV.


In Occupied China

Black Jazzmen at the Japanese Prison Camp

in Weihsien, China during World War II



Desmond Power, a third generation British

subject born in Tientsin (now Tianjin),

China in 1923, was incarcerated

along with 1,500 other foreign nationals

in 1943 in Weihsien, a Japanese Prisoner

of War camp in North China during World

War II. In the article below, Power recalls

Earl Whaley and other African American

jazz musicians who were placed there as

well and how their music lifted the morale

of the prisoners.


do not write this as a historian, nor

do I have sources to which I can refer

readers. I write simply as a contemporary

and close comrade of some black

jazz musicians with whom I was incarcerated

in a Japanese prison camp in

China during World War II. The war ended

67 years ago, yet most of my memories

of the time and place remain intact

though somewhat generalized.

First pictures of the

Japanese occupation

of Peiping (Beijing) in

China, on August 13, 1937.

Few need reminding that the Shanghai

of the 1920s and 30s was called the

“Paris of the Orient” for its profusion

of extravagant nightclubs, cabarets,

casinos, and bordellos, and that while

the US was dragging itself out of the

Great Depression, Shanghai was enjoying

a boom, its nightlife going full tilt,

attracting big names in the U.S. jazz

world eager to cash in on the opportunities


As jazz band leader Earl Whaley told it,

by the time he arrived there in 1934,

most of the big names had come and

gone, but there was no stopping him

from cashing in. His seven man group,

the Red Hot Syncopators, that had set

Seattle, Washington’s jazz world ablaze

was now doing the same at St. Anna’s

Ballroom at 80 Love Lane, close by the

Shanghai Race Course.

His popularity zoomed, not only with

jazz lovers among the city’s 100,000

foreign residents, but also with the

modern set among the local Chinese.

For three long years, everything went

Whaley’s way. Money was good, living

cheap, and the racial demeaning of

blacks so common in the U.S. at that

time, was practically unheard of.

Buck Clayton, an acclaimed

American jazz trumpet

player, who went on to

become a leading member

of Count Basie’s “Old

Testament” orchestra.

Then in 1937 disaster struck when Japan

began its subjugation of China. Japan

was not quite yet ready to take on

the U.S. and its Allies (that would happen

4½ years later at Pearl Harbor) so

its forces avoided Shanghai’s foreign

settlements. However, those neutral

zones did not escape collateral damage

from the furious bombardment in which

hundreds of civilians perished.

No wonder American jazzmen wanted

out! They had not bargained on getting

caught up in a battle zone. Buck

Clayton, whose twelve man ensemble,

the Harlem Gentlemen, had arrived

in Shanghai the same year as Whaley,

booked out on the next ship. He was

good enough to offer his band passages

back to the States, and all but bass

player Reginald Jones, better known as

“Jonesy,” accepted and sailed off.

Whaley, who had decided to keep on

going in Shanghai, faced a tough problem.

His pianist, drummer, trombonist,

and trumpeter headed back home

without him. He was lucky enough to

sign on black pianist F.C. Stoffer and

to pick up Jonesy, who even before his

Shanghai days with Clayton was already

known in the jazz world, having starred

at Harlem’s Cotton Club and in Charlie

Echols’s fourteen piece orchestra.

Still missing a lead brass player, he negotiated

with the Filipino, Lope Sarreal,

who happened to be not only a star

trumpeter but also an eminent promoter

of musical and sporting events

throughout the Far East. As it turned

out, Sarreal signed up Whaley’s group

to be featured performers in his own

swing band.

The Lope–Whaley Swing Band continued

playing in Shanghai but not for long, for

by 1940 they were up north at Tientsin,

close to the ancient capital, Peking,

and under contract to play at the Little

Club there. Tientsin, like Shanghai,

was under foreign domination, but its

foreign population diminutive by comparison,

its nightclubs fewer and less

garish. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop

“Earl Whaley and His Coloured Boys,”

so named by the local press, from creating

a sensation at the club. They became

the talk of North China’s foreign

communities throughout 1940 and

most of 1941. Regrettably for Whaley,

the club’s visitors included the owners

of Peking Hotel, who made an offer to

his guitarist, Earl West, he could not refuse.

West, an original Red Hot Syncopator,

left to start up his own group in

Peking, Earl West and his Night Owls.

Then it all ended for the cozy world of

the Treaty Ports. At dawn on December

8th, (December 7th at Pearl Harbor)

Japanese storm troops swarmed

into the foreign settlements of Shanghai

and Tientsin and the Legations at

Peking. Allied nationals were ordered

to remain strictly within the bounds of

their settlements and to wear red arm

bands denoting they were enemy subjects.

In Tientsin, with banks and businesses

closed, many soon ran out of money

and food. With help from the Swiss Consul,

the Masonic Hall on Race Course

Road was converted into a mess where

Allied nationals could get a meal. Quite

a furor was caused among the volunteer

waiters vying for a chance to serve

the table taken by Mr. Whaley and his

famed jazzmen!

After their meal, the jazzmen would

move to a seating area where there was

a grand piano. The tallest musician,

the handsome and debonair one, ran

his fingers over the keys. Then, he drifted

into We Three with such a delicate

touch that the servers stood mesmerized.

They soon learned his name was

Stoffer. And it wasn’t long before they

got to share jokes with him and with

the clarinetist, Wayne Adams, and the

boisterous happy-go-lucky bass player,

Jonesy. But it was obvious from the

start that the older one, Earl Whaley,

was their leader and spokesperson. He

A monument


the liberation of the

Weihsien Internment

Camp, Weifang,

Shandong, China.


was not a bit shy in telling his audience

how he had put the band together in

Seattle and brought it to Shanghai, and

about their good and hard times there

and their surprising success in Tientsin.

Meeting at the mess hall nearly every

day throughout the whole of 1942 and

into the spring of 1943 allowed bonds

to form between those jazz players and

the British volunteer workers.

Up until then, life under the Japanese

seemed not all that hard to take, but

soon rumors began sounding on all

sides that they were preparing concentration

camps throughout occupied China

for the Allied civilians in their hands.

For once, the rumors had truth in them.

The 1,800 detainees in Tientsin, Peking,

Tsingtao and other North China

centers received official notice from the

Japanese authorities stating that early

in 1943 they were to be sent by train to

a camp at Weihsien, deep in the heart

of Shantung Province.

In March 1943, Earl West arrived there

with the trainload of 300 prisoners

from Peking. A day or two later came

the larger contingent of nearly 1,000

from Tientsin, among them Lope Sarreal,

Earl Whaley, Reggie Jones, Wayne

Adams, and F.C. Stoffer. As they were

about to pass through the camp’s main

gate, Stoffer doubled up in agony. His

appendix had ruptured. He was put on

the next train to the nearest town Tsingtao,

but he died before they could get

him to hospital there.

The black jazzmen were still in shock

over their cruel loss even as they were

having to meld into the curious cornucopia

of missionaries, academics,

doctors, lawyers, engineers, bankers,

traders, shopkeepers, clerks, bar girls,

and vagrants caught up in the Japanese


And the Japanese put the onus entirely

on the prisoners to do everything for

themselves, from collecting raw rations

to preparing and cooking meals on

primitive Chinese stoves, collecting garbage,

clearing drains, repairing buildings

(all in decrepit state) and caring

for the sick.

As days passed into weeks and the

weeks into months, the prisoners fell

into a routine that made life bearable

but they were always under a shadow

of not knowing what tomorrow might

bring. For jazz lovers this concern disappeared

altogether when the band voluntarily

played for them at dances.

Earl West was now the band’s leader. At

a typical camp dance, there he’d be, a

solidly built black American, standing

with his group in a space cleared of tables

in a kitchen eating area. He would

begin by snapping off a catchy allchords

intro on his guitar that launched

the combo into several bouncing choruses

of Shine, he and Jonesy coming in

with peppy vocals that had the dancing

couples and spectators showing their

appreciation with bursts of applause.

Then off again he’d lead the band into

two electrifying hours of old favorites,

including sometimes a jaunty Coquette,

sometimes Hold Tight, and more often

than not for a grand finale, heating it up

with an uproarious Nagasaki.

What a boon those dances were for the

romantically inclined, especially among

the shy! Many a couple’s relationship

started at a dance, some leading to

marriage. Earl West’s union could not

have been one of those, for he simply

worked too hard leading the band. In

April 1944, at a camp religious ceremony,

he married the beautiful English/

Chinese girl from Peking, Deirdre Es-

mond. Not quite a year later, in January

1945, their daughter Fern was born

in the camp hospital.

In the following weeks deep concern

spread throughout the camp, when Earl

Whaley was rushed to that same hospital

suffering from acute appendicitis.

Those who knew of Stoffer’s tragic

end dared not think the worst. But

thank God, Earl survived the surgery.

When visitors were allowed, I found him

in much distress, his stomach bloated

with gas. At his request, I called for a

nurse, but the high and mighty Sister

of some Victorian Nursing Order blasted

me and sent me packing.

Our internment ended with a suddenness

that astonished

us all. On August 17,

1945, a four engine

U.S. plane flew over

the camp, circled

it once, twice, and

then dropped a team

of parachute troops

within two hundred

yards of the perimeter.

The OSS team

that took over the

camp met with no

resistance from the Japanese. Within

days, squadrons of giant B29s were

dropping great loads of food, medicine,

and clothing into and around the camp.

World War II might be over, but the Chinese

Civil War between the Nationalists

and Communists burst out into the

open, cutting all road and rail traffic between

Weihsien and the outside world.

During the crazy and, bittersweet time

after we had been liberated but still

behind barbed wire, I heard that Earl

West wanted to see me. When I got to

his hut, he held out his precious guitar

and told me it was mine to keep. Of

In March 1943,

Earl West arrived

there with the

trainload of 300

prisoners from


course, I refused. But he was adamant.

He wouldn’t take no. To this very day,

the man’s incredible generosity stuns

my mind.

In late September 1945, U.S. Marine

Corps officers at the port of Tsingtao

managed to arrange a cease fire between

the opposing Chinese armies

to allow trains from Weihsien to get

through, and two did before the line

was blown for good. And in one of those

trains the black jazzmen got away, all

of them sound of life and limb. From

Tsingtao, they sailed back to the United

States aboard the USS Lavaca. I never

had a chance to say good-bye, nor did I

ever see any of them again.

I never found out what

happened to Wayne

Adams after he returned

to the States,

but I was shown Earl

Whaley’s card after he

had established himself

as a real estate

agent in Los Angeles,

California during the

1960s. Jonesy alone

made it back to a regular

band according

to eyewitnesses who met him in Vancouver

(Canada) and San Francisco

while he was touring the West Coast.

Earl West’s daughter, Fern, told me that

on arrival at San Francisco in October

1945, her parents decided to settle in

the Bay Area. There they raised another

daughter and two sons before Earl contracted

lung cancer, from which he died

on October 19, 1959, at the early age

of 49.

After getting twelve good years use out

of Earl’s guitar in China, England, and

New Zealand, I handed it over to a Russian

lad keen to learn the instrument.

I’m sure Earl would have approved.

Desmond Power was born in 1923 in Tientsin

(now Tianjin), North China. He can claim the

status of Third Generation Old China Hand,

his maternal grandparents having settled

there way back in the days of the Dragon


His easy life was shattered on December 8, 1941 when Japanese land forces

in China overran foreign settlements, committing their residents to prison

camps. The three camps in which Desmond was incarcerated became his

university. In each he observed prisoners looking out only for themselves,

while others gave of their all for the common good. Upon Japan’s defeat,

the jubilation of the sworn colonials was short-lived. Their special rights

were revoked and they were obliged to leave. In January 1946, Desmond

took part in the exodus of his own accord.

For more imformation visit

A relief depicting the story

of the Weihsien Internment

Camp located in the park

adjacent to the former

camp. (2010)




Batuke Samba Funk is a high energy Brazilian

band that mixes rhythms such as Funk from

the 70’s with afro samba, Brazilian big band,

batucada, soul, and R&B. The band attracts

a mixed crowd with people from all ages and

nationalities dancing in every performance. The

goal of Batuke is to “Brazilianize” American

sounds and “Americanize” Brazilian sounds in

a perfect balanced fusion.

Batuke was created in 2008 by Brazilian

bassist, composer, and musical producer

Diogo Brown, who was soon joined by Miami’s

well known Brazilian guitarist and composer

Cezar Santana.

Diogo’s versatility and musicality opened

doors for him to work with artists like: Nouvelle

Vague, Cris Delano (bossa cuca nova), Claudia

Leite, Ricky Martin, Don Omar and Lucenzo

(kuduro), Jon Secada, Mark Hudson and


Most of the songs are composed by Diogo

Brown and Cezar Santana, with special

emphasis on the theme song of the CD, “Soul

Carioca” which has just been released in a

single as a tribute to Rio De Janeiro Brasil.

Visit for more




By Diana O'Gilvie

Marijuana tourism is on the rise worldwide

and a few key cities and countries

are leading the charge in this billion-dollar

industry. The socio-economic implications

are still formulating, but many governments

currently find themselves caught between legislating

marijuana supply, educating citizens

and stemming the tide of the drug trade.

In the United States, four states have legalized

marijuana for recreational use, but only

Colorado and Washington have licensed dispensaries

where you can buy marijuana with

a prescription or for recreational use. These

two states have marijuana tours reminiscent

of California vineyards, but city and state

tourism boards still shy away from promoting

marijuana as an attraction. Big hotel chains

also avoid marijuana-friendly advertising, so

weed travelers are booking cannabis tours

that already include accommodations.

In Amsterdam, unofficially dubbed the ‘Napa

Valley of Weed,’ the city offers more sophisticated

tours. When visitors enter the city’s

famed brown cafes they are handed a menu

with the offered marijuana strains of the day.

The Dutch’s approach to marijuana is directed

at the idea that every human being can make

their own decisions about matters concerning

their own health. This tolerant policy isn’t some

miraculous solution to abate drug abuse. It’s

common sense. Their approach is two-fold:

give citizens personal freedom of choice while

closely monitoring the drug abuse landscape.

Holland’s focus is primarily on public health

instead of emphasizing the criminal element.

This approach means government can be more

effective in informing the public on drug prevention

and testing. One such way, cracking

down on cultivation Holland’s government is

considering classifying marijuana with higher

levels of THC as a hard drug. Marijuana growers

are facing stiffer regulations. In the past,

people could grow up to five plants legally.

In 2011, new regulations narrowed the definition

of a professional as anyone who grew

marijuana with prepared soil, electric lights

and ‘selected seeds.’ Professional growers

names are added to a blacklist and face eviction

from government subsidized housing,

which is roughly half of the Dutch population.

This causes an increase in black market marijuana.

Human nature dictates that if you tell

people they can’t have something, they’re going

to want more of it. As a result, coffee shops

are taking risks in securing marijuana from

illegal enterprises, willing to absorb criminal

penalties. Naturally, marijuana is more expensive

and the quality shoddy.

Despite Jamaica’s ganja (local term for marijuana)

loving reputation, the herb is illegal. Jamaica’s

ganja cultural roots run deep and the

road to legalization is riddled with potholes.

Earlier this year, the government voted to decriminalize

up to two ounces of cannabis for

medicinal purposes, personal use and holy

sacrament of the Rastafarian community. A

criminal record in Jamaica makes it hard to

get a job or secure a coveted visa to America,

Canada or England. Decriminalization

unclogs the courts and frees up the police’s

time. A new ‘cannabis licensing authority’ will

regulate the cultivation and distribution of

marijuana for legal purposes. Tourists who

have prescriptions from their home country

can pay the Ministry of Health for permits to

buy marijuana during their stay in Jamaica.

The new law eliminates the unnecessary

source of friction between law enforcement

and citizens and ensures young people aren’t

shackled with criminal records for a little spliff

(local term for joint). Jamaica joins Argentina,

Colombia and Mexico in decriminalizing small

amounts of marijuana. Like these countries,

Jamaica recognizes that the harsh crackdown

on ganja has failed to stifle the illegal consumption

and trade.

When it comes to the legalization of marijuana,

Uruguay’s stance on the issue is landmark.

The country’s bold new laws legalizing

marijuana have positioned them as the only

country to license and enforce rules for dis-

tribution and sale of marijuana and makes it

the first country in the world to license and

enforce rules for the production, distribution

and sale of marijuana for adult consumers.

The nation’s aim to create a “legal, regulated

framework for marijuana,” making it the

first in modern times to do this. Dubbed “The

Great Experiment,” all the world’s eyes are

on Uruguay to see how they handle internal

and international pressure over the impending

weed boom and individual liberty.

How does the concept of individuality come up

against the government’s regulations? Where

do these countries get these numbers from?

Jamaica’s two ounces. Holland’s five grams.

Uruguay’s forty grams. It all seems so arbitrary.

Many savvy growers can yield ten pounds of

marijuana from as little as four trees. Worldwide,

country’s laws are shifting paradigms.

The freedom of legalization and restriction of

regulation are two sides of the same coin. One

of the tenants of the legislation and decriminization

is government regulates how much

citizens smoke and exact control over the supply.

Medical research and development will be

controlled by the state as they closely monitor

and restrict personal marijuana use.


Denver - My 420 Tours

Personal service abounds on this tour. Founder

Matt Brown says, “Think of a friend who

shows you this is real.” The company offers

complete guided experiences. The Dispensary

and Grow tour ($129) gives visitors an education

on the sativa and indica plants, the effects

of THC and CBD, edibles and vaporizers.

Public consumption of cannabis is banned in

the state, however you can use vaporizers in

some hotel rooms. The tour stops by Native

Roots Apothecary for discounts on edibles.

Seattle - Kush Tourism

Seattle’s leading cannabis tour is cerebrally

focused. Founder, Chase Nobles, told the

Seattle Times, “Our tours more about education…

we take you to see something you can’t

otherwise see. The three- hour tours ($150)

includes stops at Sky Garden’s 30,000 square

foot growing facility on Harbor Island, pot

testing lab Analytical 360 and a glass blowing

class where visitors make their own pipes.

Amsterdam - Iamsterdam

Amsterdam is fluxed with café walking tours.

Reefer purveyors delight over café menu options

dubbed Flowerbank and Candy Kush.

City run, Iamsterdam’s two- hour tour ($30)

delves into historical and educational facts on

the cannabis plant and culture. The tour includes

the city’s first cafés in the Red Light

District and Chinatown also to famed coffeehouses

frequented by rock stars.

Jamaica - Hotbox Tours

Quick! When you think of Jamaica what comes

to mind? Odds are, ganja. Yet ganja tours aren’t

booming, in fact they’re barely making a

whimper. Jamaica has decriminalized ganja

possession of up to two ounces and households

are allowed four trees. Attorney, Lord

Anthony Gifford says, “The potential for Jamaica

to market ganja and make money is

enormous. We should do as Uruguay.” Ganja

farms are often on steep hillsides where

papaya and bananas trees form a canopy to

cover the plants. Hotbox Tours include lodging

($200). After breakfast with ganja tea, visit a

farm, learn to roll a proper joint, splash in the

nearby river. The tour embodies Jamaica’s relaxed

irie vibe.

Uruguay- Mvd High

Uruguay’s historical legislation makes it the

first nation in modern times to create a regulated,

legal framework for cannabis. At the moment,

the average citizen isn’t allowed to sell

marijuana, instead it’s offered as a gift. The

Sensorial City Tour ($200) is focused solely on

getting high. Ride in a comfy air -conditioned

van, visit a grow shop, the scenic grounds of

River Plate in Parque Rodo, panoramic views

of the Old City and local barrios. The final stop

is well timed for the onset of the munchies at

the Port Market.

Award winning writer/filmmaker, Diana

O’Gilvie’s work is driven by her global

curiosity and distinctive approach to

authentic story telling. She was contributor

to the travel anthology, ‘Trail-

Blasian- Black Women Living in East

Asia.’ Diana is also an avid photographer.

She has published photography

on Southeast Asian countries like

Indonesia, Singapore, Myanmar and

Malaysia. Diana’s photographic work

was displayed at Seattle’s Wing Luke

Museum in their summer 2013’s exhibition

on Asian sweets.




Griots Republic talked with Norman

Deshong, staff photographer at

both Madison Square Garden and

the New Jersey Performance Arts Center

about his photography.

When did you develop your

love of photography?

I started in Montclair High School doing

black and white shots in photography

class and some time later, I picked

up a camera at a friends wedding and

began to take shots (although they had

a photographer). The response to my

photos was great and it prompted me

to keep at!

What separates you from your peers?

I try to capture in photos what people

don’t see in themselves. I will take thousands

of shots and a dozen of them will

capture the essence of the person and

it’s those shots, that the client will love

the most.

Who have you worked with?

I’m currently the staff photographer

for both Madison

Square Garden and the New

Jersey Performance Arts Center

and have worked as the

personal photographer for Roy

Jones Jr, Local newscaster

Brenda Blackmon, and Dana

Owens (aka Queen Latifah) as

well as her mom Rita Owens.

I also love helping people with their craft. I

don’t mind helping others get better. I will lend

my camera or lens to others. If I’m being hired

to do a job, I’m getting paid; I can certainly help

another. That’s what makes me different.

What advice would you give to new


Learn your tools. Know what kind of camera

you are working with; the type of lenses you

have. You have got to know the tools of your

trade. I use Canon cameras and lenses and I

always travel with multiple cameras to ensure

that I never miss my shots. I’m very excited

about my next phase of my work using drones.

Rita was very involved in with

Jubilation Choir which performed

under the umbrella

of New Jersey Performance

Arts Center (NJPAC) under

the direction Reverend Stephanie

Minatee and soon I found

myself taking photos for the

choir as well which led to my

becoming the house photographer

for NJPAC. This has given

me the opportunity to photograph

some of the biggest

names in music. Legends in

the business.

What is your favorite

thing to shoot?

OMG! I love shooting hockey!

These guys are big and the

speed of that puck!! I wish I

had played when I was younger.

It is definitely more challenging

because you have to

shoot through a small opening

and even there the puck will

come right through and bust

up your lens and head. That

is really exciting.

I also love shooting for the Knicks, The

Islanders, The Red Bulls, The Liberty,

and Rangers but my favorite is Hockey.

I’ve gotten shots of the President and

other events but, there are a million

other photographers there and many

shots will look alike but Hockey, is like

freezing time, especially when you capture

the puck in motion. No two photographers

will get that same shot.

Tell us about your New Orleans/

Katrina project…

I wanted to see the results of Katrina for

myself. So I went down to take photos

and we have been going back over the

last 10 years to photograph the progress

of the recovery with the hopes of

eventually chronicling it all in one volume.

What people are not talking about, is

what we want to capture, especially areas

in the 9th ward. I’ve had the opportunity

to see and take photos of the

work Brad Pitt is doing there. He has

built many, many new homes for those

impacted by Katrina. The photography

project just keeps going.

We have taken thousands of photos.

In fact, Judith Jameson has one of my

photos hanging in her home so, that

she never forgets the losses in New Orleans.

We must never forget that. Ever.

There are still spots that are still very

messed up. In fact, some of the schools

just reopened after being rebuilt.

Where have you traveled for your art?

Kenya, Dominican Republic, Puerto

Rico, St Lucia, St Vincent and a great

deal of the islands.

What three things do you live by?

1. Stay grateful and stay humble

2. Help others

3. Travel with more than two cameras

and lenses

Norman Deshong is a photographer whose

work has taken him throughout the United States

and all over the world. He has been published

in magazines such as Source, XXL, and Ring

Magazine, just to name a few and was featured in

Ebony Magazine in 2013. His work with the New

Jersey Performing Arts Center grants him access

to cover celebrities and global talent. For more

information on Deshong, check out his company,

Photography by DeShong, at



A Q&A with author, Jennifer Poe,

on publishing your travel memoirs.

Writer and author, Jennifer Poe, is

publishing a new book about her travels

throughout Buenos Aires. As soon as

we saw her post on Twitter, we jumped at the

chance to pick her brain. Continue reading

for insights on how you too can publish your

memoirs and make sure to follow Jennifer for

updates on her new book!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and

how you wound up in Buenos Aires.

Well, I’m a writer through and through. More

so than a blogger, I would say. But I was 16

when I started writing seriously with the goal of

publication one day. I began my artistic journey

as an underground poet and artist on the Lower

East Side and landed my first publishing credit

(Poem in We Got Issues) at the age of 20 and

was named one of the top New Yorkers by New

York magazine not too long after that.

I caught the travel bug, however, when I was

just 19 years old. It was the first time I had

been in an airport and I went to Paris. I haven’t

looked back since.

When I turned 22, I wanted to experience

living abroad for an extended amount of time

and had never been away from my family or

lived on my own and since I was going through

heartbreak at the time and going through the

emotions where the city sickens you because

every monument and piece of concrete reminds

you of the person you loved, I decided I wanted

to pack my things and leave.

A friend told me about Buenos Aires and as soon

as I saw pictures of the city I was in love. I also

noticed the absence of black people. I mean,

not a single one! I heard stories of racism and

was a bit scared and hesitant, but I said screw

it! I’m not going to let color define or deter me

from any part of the world I want to explore. So

I made my fear take the back seat, grabbed a

copy of Hemingway’s Movable Feast and took


What inspired “Hola, Morocha! A Black

Woman’s Adventures in Buenos Aires”

and whom did you write it for?

My, my, my. Let me tell you. Living in Buenos

Aires was one of the most bizarre, yet thrilling

experiences of my life! Some of the stuff that

happened was straight out of a movie. I said,

“I have to document this!” So to stay sane, I

started the now defunct blog “Black Girl’s Guide

to Buenos Aires” while I was still living there.

I was surprised by how popular it became. At

the time, back in 2007, I was one of the few

black travelers blogging. I think there was like

ten of us. I can confidently say I am one of the

original black travel bloggers. Now the Internet

is saturated with them. This is a great thing!

But I still get emails from other black women,

who are embarking on their own journeys to

Buenos Aires, who need help or support to

quell the same fears I had. I’ve even inspired

some to travel there. That experience inspired

me to re-write Hola, Morocha as a book series.

Book one in the series is called Culture Shock

and I re-wrote it in a playful conversational way.

I want readers to feel like a friend is spilling the

tea from abroad!

I think we need more diversity in travel nonfiction.

I’m still having issues finding such

books. So to answer your question, the book is

for everyone who loves to read travel memoirs,

but targeted towards black women who want to

see more of themselves in travel narratives and

also black women traveling to Buenos Aires.

Can you describe the writing, editing,

and publishing process of going from a

travel blog to an actual novel?

I think they’re two different arenas. It’s one

thing to throw a travel blog up and then connect

it to your instagram and post pretty pictures

styling and profiling off the coast of Rio, but

it’s not going to help you sell books.

The number one thing is to learn book

marketing. You have to come up with a

day write their own travel memoirs!

What were some of the pitfalls you

encountered in bringing your product

to market? What would you recommend

other travel bloggers do to avoid those

same pitfalls?

This biggest thing I regret is not familiarizing

myself with book marketing when I first

started the blog. Writers tend to groan when

someone mentions platform or marketing, but

it’s absolutely essential. If I studied marketing

earlier, I would have known it’s more important

to build a direct connection with your reader

than scrambling to get thousands of likes and

followers on social media. Now I’m playing

catch up.

Also, self-publishing isn’t cheap. Editing alone

can be $1,000. I’m launching a Kickstarter July

1st to get Hola, Morocha into its final phase:

production, editing and design. And I feel I

must mention this: I noticed Amazon or even

Facebook advertising doesn’t really have an

easy way to market to young black travelers.

Morocha, but it’s structure was influenced

from a little known gem I discovered titled Post

Cards from France by Megan McNeill Libby.

It’s still one of my favorite books. I’m going to

read it again!

Stephen King’s On Writing, Ray Bradbury’s Zen

in The Art of Writing, Brena Ueland’s If you

want to Write and Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters

to a Young Poet influenced my writing style. I’m

enjoying The Flaneur by Edmund White at the

moment. But my number one favorite writer

and guy is William Shakespeare!!!

It’s going to be a challenge to set my book

up in the right categories on Amazon to ensure

that my target market finds it. I’ve signed this

petition recently, calling for Amazon to add

more categories. So this is going to be an

interesting journey, but one I’m excited about!

When will the book be released and

where can readers buy it?

marketing plan and basically start looking at

yourself as a publisher: you have to hire book

cover designers, copy editors, proof readers,

purchase ISBN numbers, etc.. etc.. and form

an actual business for tax purposes since you

will be making money on Amazon and any other


I had to take a year off from blogging, which

can feel like running for homecoming queen in

high school. During my time off, I studied book

marketing and one of the things I discovered

during my research was a direct connection

with your reader is worth way more than a

Facebook like or an Instagram follow. So if

you’re serious about writing and selling books,

you must write, write, write a good manuscript,

learn book marketing, build a direct connection

with your readers and use your travel blog/

social networks as a hub for readers to connect

with and communicate with you.

My travel blog serves

as such a place, but I also provide free resources

and travel guides for other women of color to

start traveling on their own and hopefully one

The tentative release date, depending on how

my Kickstarter goes, is mid August or early

September. I want to get it out before the official

end of summer.

What authors do you like to read?

What book or books have had a strong

influence on you or your writing?

I’m a bibliophile! So for the sake of brevity,

I’ll stick to non-fiction and say Hemingway’s

A moveable Feast inspired the idea of Hola,

Where are you heading next and what

can we expect from you in the future?

I’m heading to Cuba!!! I’ve wanted to go since I

was sixteen and I plan to do Havana and Vinales.

I’m going to start planning for it soon. I’m also

releasing four books in the Hola, Morocha travel

series and all four should be released this year

with the last one releasing in December, fingers





Andromeda’s professional career truly started

when she went on tour with Ray Charles as one

of his background vocalists, a “Raelette.“

An international success, Andromeda was featured

as the “Queen of the Blues” singing with

the Jazz Big Band at Tokyo Disney in Japan for

14 months. While there, she recorded her debut

album “Introducing Andromeda Turre” which

got her to the 2008 Grammy awards. Andromeda

took the album on the road and has enjoyed well

received tours in China, Croatia, Czech Republic,

India, Italy, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam,

and many more countries.

Andromeda has formal training in Vocal Performance

from Berklee College of Music, Theater

from the Boston Conservatory and Dance from

Alvin Ailey & Dance Theater of Harlem. She

also studied piano and composition from age

5. Growing up with Jazz musician parents Steve

Turre and Akua Dixon, Andromeda claims most

of her musical training from home.

Based in New York City, Andromeda continues to

perform both original works and standards with

her own group as well as being a featured vocalist

with many other bands. In addition, she works

as a vocal coach, songwriter, arranger, producer

and performance coach. With a valid passport,

Andromeda continues to take her voice all over

the world. For more information visit



By Jason Francis

The summer tradition of Caribana

has been a staple of Toronto, Ontario

for nearly 50 years. On its surface

it is an ideal destination to soak in

strong elements of Caribbean culture.

The two week long event culminates in

a massive final weekend of fetes, the

pre parade J’ouvert celebration and the

Parade of Bands. For those who are unable

to make it down to the islands that

gave birth to it, Caribana has grown to

welcome in millions to partake in the

annual gathering.

Yet, as you dive further into the heart

of Caribana, now known as Scotiabank

Toronto Caribbean Carnival, you’ll see

that there is a lot more happening than

meets the eye. Caribana goes back to

the late 1960s, 1967 to be exact, when

Caribbean expats living in Canada threw

a massive street party as a sort of cultural

gift and community celebration

for Canada’s centennial. Led by the Caribbean

Cultural Committee this event

would continue annually and today It

has become quite a lucrative economic

campaign, bringing close to $400 million

dollars into the city. Unfortunately,

it is within that growth over the past

decade, that has led to a shift in the

community climate and now many find

themselves frustrated if not completely

disenchanted with the whole situation.

The Caribana of

old was not a city

government organized

event, but rather an

organic community


mate. “At its core, Caribana is an inclusive

space that has the potential to

really uplift the black community in a

lot of ways. It also brings thousands

of people from across Canada and the

U.S. to the city each year and as such,

has put Toronto on the map long before

the likes of Drake and OVOFest came

around. In recent memory, it has been

marred with violence and calls of mismanagement.

While any festival of this

magnitude is bound to have problems,

it was particularly heartbreaking to see

this happen to something that is so

special to Caribbean people specifically

and the greater black community at


Toronto based media figures have also

taken notice of the issues facing Caribana.

Award winning radio host Dr. Vibes

raises this question, “The financial

state of Caribana is a concern. At the

present, they no longer have the support

of Scotiabank. I would like to know

how come Caribana [still] continues to

have financial challenges?”

One of the biggest aspects of Caribana

is its growth as a summer party period

beyond just the island themed festivities.

The hip hop world touches down on

Toronto to make itself known and with

it comes lots of money for the city. One

of the major voices of Toronto hip hop,

Erin Ashley aka Ellah, gives us another

view point on the tourist influence.

“For the past few years, people who

have enjoyed Caribana for decades with

their families, are now asked to pay to

watch the parade - scratch that, they

were asked to pay to watch the parade

behind 12ft tall barricades and an influx

of non-masqueraders pulling feathers

off costumes, ignoring requests of

The Caribana of old was not a city government

organized event, but rather an

organic community celebration. While

the Mas bands paraded

and danced,

putting their traditional


on display and the

tunes of steel pans

filled the air, the

people of Toronto

had a intimate relationship

with the


Can Caribana

survive amongst

the growing

disconnect felt by

the local people?

The J’ouvert celebration along with the

various fetes leading up the main parade

all served as a source of unity and

Pride for the diverse Canadian communities.

The people were not merely

spectators but were a full on part of

the experience. It is this sense of connection

that many feel has been lost

as Caribana continued to grow in scale

and scope.

While many tourists

view Toronto’s annual

festival weekend

as an ideal destination

to experience

Caribbean culture,

can Caribana survive

amongst the

growing disconnect

felt by the local people?

The sentiments of many Toronto residents

echoes a concern for the future

of Caribana for a few reasons.

Grade School Teacher, Sara S, expresses

her feelings about the change in cli-

and leaders and showing complete ignorance

and a lack of respect as to what

Caribana is about. Yet, it’s not the organizers

of the event that are to blame

- it’s a beautiful event and a staple event

in Toronto, both socially and economically,

but wise words to all the tourists

- find out what this event is about, why

it’s lasted decades, why you’re asked to

stand along the fences and not in the

parade and respect this cultural celebration.”

International writer, Lincoln Anthony

Blades, has chronicled his ongoing frustrations

with Caribana going so far as

to suggest its overall cancellation until

someone can right the ship.

“I would rather

not have a parade

than see my culture

get the **** beat

out of it year-afteryear,

while city

bureaucrats profit

from this.”

“This carnival is no longer a representation

of any part of my culture. I propose

that this festival is CANCELLED indefinitely

instead of running it deeper into

the ground. Give it a few years off while a

real strategy is put in place, even if that

means getting ScotiaBank the HELL out

of here and returning the parade to the

original Caribana founders. But I would

rather not have a parade than see my

culture get the **** beat out of it yearafter-year,

while city bureaucrats profit

from this.”

It seems that the current condition of

Caribana is the result of many factors

which makes it a complex matter to

tackle. I think long time Caribana Mas

Band player and writer, Bee Quammie,

sums it up best:

“We need a shift in the collective understanding

of what Caribana is about.

The embrace of sensuality in the parade

isn’t an invitation for gratuitous and unwanted

sexual advances. It’s not a space

to lord classism over the heads of the

people who may not have been able to

afford a costume, but still want to engage

and have fun. Caribana should not

be an opportunity for greedy corporate

entities to swoop in for the kill. And we

should all remember that Caribana –

the very celebration of Caribbean culture

- consists of more than the closing

weekend’s parade. The richness of

the culture is in every event, from Kiddie

Carnival to the King & Queen Competition

to PanAlive and much more.”

Make no mistake about it... Caribana,

the full festival - period - is a marvelous

time to be in Toronto. The city is

alive and charged with a special kind of

energy that you need to experience at

least once in your lifetime. The capital

of Ontario, a melting pot of traditions

and rich cultures shines bright during

Caribana even with its ongoing internal

struggles. The sights, sounds and tastes

of the city are truly to be enjoyed.

While a native Torontonian may have a

slightly different view on this Caribbean

celebration, no one will deny its value,

and deep rooted ties to the heart of the

city. Caribana going forward may look a

little different than from years past but

it’ll still be a time to remember.

Jason is a New York based social media manager

with a passion for the ever evolving digital space

of social media, blogging and marketing. He has

operated online in various capacities for over 10

years. He is also the Head of Social Media and

part of the overall managing team, The High Council,

of the Nomadness Travel Tribe. The tribe is

a 13,000+ member strong travel network focused

on sharing the value of travel with the Urban demographic

and introducing travel to the upcoming



Cajun music and zydeco are closely

related parallel music forms.

Cajun music is the music of the

white Cajuns of south Louisiana, while

zydeco is the music of the black Creoles

of the same region. Both share

common origins and influences, and

there is much overlap in the repertoire

and style of each. At the same time,

each culture proudly and carefully preserves

the identity of its own musical


Cajun music is a blend of the cultural

ingredients found in south Louisiana.

The colonial French Creoles were singing

the same stock of western French

folk songs as the Acadians who arrived

in Louisiana during the mid-18th century

after being exiled from Nova Scotia.

Native American Indians contributed

a wailing, terraced singing style.

Black Creoles contributed new rhythms

and a sense of percussion techniques,

improvisational singing, and the blues.

The Spanish eventually contributed the

guitar and a few tunes.

The violin, which was a popular new

instrument in France during the 17th

century when the French left for the

New World, continued to dominate the

instrumental tradition until German

Jewish merchants on the south Louisiana

prairies began importing diatonic

accordions from Austria in the early

19th century. Acadian and black Creole

musicians alike began experimenting

with the accordion and developed

techniques which served as a basis for

Cajun music and zydeco. Anglo-American

immigrants contributed new fiddle

tunes and dances (reels, jigs, and

hoedowns) while singers translated the

English songs into French. By the turn of

the 20th century, these diverse ingredients

had combined to form what we now

call Cajun music.

Commercial recording companies like

Decca, Columbia, RCA Victor, and Bluebird

began recording regional and ethnic

music throughout America in the early

part of the 20th century. Since commercial

records were made to be sold, they

provided a good parameter of popular

trends and also gave an imprimatur to

the musicians they recorded. In south

Louisiana, popular and traditional culture

were the same at the turn of the

19th century, but soon enough the recorded

musicians began to set the style.

These irreplaceable

elements reveal the

style’s origins

in the cultural

creolization of Afro-

Caribbean and Franco-

American traditions

Joseph and Cléoma Falcon were fairly

well-known in their local community of

Rayne, but the release of “Lafayette” in

1928 made them much larger than life.

Everyone wanted to hear the Cajun musicians

who had made a record. The newly

improvised verse they had added to

their arrangement of an older traditional

tune immediately became a permanent

fixture of the developing core repertoire

of Cajun music. Musicians such as the

Breaux Brothers; the Walker Brothers,

Dennis McGee and Sady Courville; Angelas

Lejeune and Mayus Lafleur soon

joined the Falcons in defining Cajun music

style and repertoire on recorded. The

early recordings of 1928-34 featured

the accordion, fiddle, and guitar, and a

high-pitched singing style necessary to

pierce through the noise of dance halls.

By the mid-1930s, the Americanization

of south Louisiana was well under way,

and Cajun music reflected this strain on

Cajun culture. Accordions began to fade

from the scene as stringbands drifted

toward Anglo-American styles, incorporating

western swing, country and popular

radio tunes into their repertoires.

Rural electrification made sound amplification

available to country dance

halls producing changes in instrumental

and singing styles. Traditional Cajun

and Creole music was pushed underground

by new, more popular sounds.

However, Cajun culture and its music

resurfaced just after World War II. This

was not an intellectual movement, but

a visceral one.

Musicians like Iry Lejeune, Lawrence

Walter, Austin Pitre, and Nathan Abshire

responded to the demand from

Cajuns who were growing uneasy with

the loss of their cultural base. Thus,

Cajun music made a dramatic come-

ack during the 1950s finding its way

back into many country dance halls.

It did not, however, completely lose it

raw, rural nature. The revival was openly

regretted by the many urbanized and

upwardly-mobile Cajuns who sought to

distance themselves from such raucous

identity markers.

The revival was also immediately threatened

by the rock & roll explosion of the

mid-1950s. Young Cajun musicians

were understandably tempted by the

potential for money and fame as they

watched fellow Louisianans Jerry Lee

Lewis and Fats Domino shoot to the top

of the charts.

In the 1960s, traditional

Cajun music

was in danger of being

overwhelmed by

the popular commercial

sounds of country,

rock & roll, and

Beatlemania. National

organizations such

as the New port Folk

Foundation, Smithsonian

Institution, and

the National Folk Festival

began to encourage

the preservation

of traditional Cajun

music, sending folklorists

and fieldworkers

to record the oldest

styles and identify the outstanding

performers. The tradition was validated

with outside audiences as Cajun musicians

became a regular feature on the

folk festival circuit.

Now, given the

choice, many

young Cajuns are

choosing to play

the music of

their heritage

while still

maintaining their

contact with the

popular American

music scene.

companies to release traditional music

alongside their more commercial records.

He organized a folk-artists-inthe-schools

project to introduce Cajun

music to Louisiana students. He also

helped to organize festivals and special

concerts to provide new settings for

Cajun musicians and serve young audiences.

The results of Balfa’s efforts to

bridge a cultural generation gap were

soon evident. Now, given the choice,

many young Cajuns are choosing to

play the music of their heritage while

still maintaining their contact with the

popular American music scene.

Among the first young musicians to

experiment with Cajun music were

Zachary Richard and

an influential group

called Coteau. Richard

recorded soulful renditions

of traditional

and original arrangements

of Cajun dance

tunes for his Bayou

de Mysteres band. He

also discovered that

other parts of the

French-speaking world

were interested in Louisiana’s

French music,

especially when it was

jacked up few notches.

Led by Michael Doucet

on fiddle, Bessyl

Duhon on accordion,

and Bruce McDonald on electric guitar,

Coteau attracted a substantial young

audience with an exciting fusion of traditional

Cajun music and southern rock

& roll.

Master fiddler Dewey Balfa was determined

“to bring home the echo of

the standing ovations” he and his Balfa

Brothers Band had received in cities

across America. He eventually succeeded

in convincing local recording

Today in 1991, young musicians continue

to improvise new sounds and preserve

old ones. Zachary Richard has

kept his version of Cajun music up to

date with contemporary trends including

reggae and rap. Michael Doucet and

Beau Soliel have added a wide range of

influences including classical and jazz

to their strongly traditional base. Wayne

Toups preserves the spirit of his heroes

while developing his own hard-driving

ZydeCajun sound. Bruce Daigrepont

has produced stylish new songs in a

lighter pop-Cajun vein. There is even a

heavy metal Cajun group, Mamou, led

by Steve Lafleur, which runs traditional

waltzes through an electronic maze of

synthesizers and wa-wa pedals. Some

youngsters, such

as Steve Riley and

Cory McCauley, deliberately

play in

the old-time traditional

style, but

even they innovate

new harmonies and

arrangements. Even

staunch preservationist

Dewey Balfa

has invested in the

future, composing

what he calls “brand

new old songs.”

In South


the meaning

of zydeco has

expanded (or

survived) to refer

to dance as a

social event and

dance styles...

Cajun music is no longer only a self-conscious

choice - it is part of the regular

music scene. The tradition is renegotiated

and reinvented weekly. One can

hear Cajun music in restaurants and on

the radio, on television, and at weekend

jam sessions. With an active recording

industry, festivals and scores of weekly

performances, young musicians how

have many opportunities to falling love

with the music of their heritage, role

models to emulate, and plenty of room

to experiment.

Zydeco, zarico, zodico, zologo, and

even zukey jump represent a few of the

spellings used by folklorists, ethnomusicologists,

record producers, and filmmakers

in their attempts to transcribe

the word performers used to describe

Louisiana’s black French Creole music.

The spelling zydeco was the first to appear

in print, used by ethnomusicologist

MacCormack in the early 1960s.

Today it is the most widespread label

and most record companies favor it.

Because its language is French or Creole,

zydeco tradition has largely remained

a mystery to outsiders. Folk

spellings and folk etymologist often

develop to explain or rationalize words

and expressions whose origins or exact

meanings have become

unclear. Native Louisiana

Creoles explain that

the word zydeco comes

from les haricots after

the expression “Les haricots

sont pas sale” (“The

beans aren’t salty”),

heard in many of the tradition’s

songs. However

recent studies based on

early Louisiana recordings

made by Alan and

John Lomaz suggests

that the term, as well as

the tradition, may have

African origins. The languages of West

African tribes affected by the slave

trade provide some clues as to the origins

of zydeco. In at least a dozen languages

from this culture-area of Africa,

the phonemes “za,” “re,” and “go”

are frequently associated with dancing

and/or playing music.

In South Louisiana, the meaning of

zydeco has expanded (or survived) to

refer to dance as a social event and

dance styles as well as the music associated

with them: Creoles go to a zydeco

to dance the zydeco to zydeco music

played by zydeco musicians. Used in an

expanded way, as a verb, zydeco seems

to have other meanings: “Let’s zydeco

them,” or “Let’s go zydeco.”

Community musicians are described

as zydeco kings, queens, and princes.

Community dance events, which

provide the primary opportunity

for courtship, are announced as

zydecos. The word zydeco also refers

to hard times and, by association,

to the music that helped to endure


In black American tradition, this music

is called the blues, whether it be

a “low-down” blues lament which relieves

by purging, or a jumping, juking

blues which relieves by distracting.

Zydeco’s bluesy side is sometimes

based on melodies and rhythms of

a delta blues tradition. Other times,

an interesting confluence of European

and Afro-Caribbean rhythms and

sources produces haunting songs

which function equally well as blues

laments and as waltzes.

Amédé Ardoin, the first black Creole

musician to record in the late 1920s,

figured prominently in the development

of zydeco. His highly syncopated

accordion style and inspired

improvisational singing helped to

define the early style. Ardoin’s immensely

popular regional recordings

led the way for subsequent black

performers and influenced many Cajun

musicians as well - notably Austin

Pitre, Iry Lejuene, and later Michael


What we have come to call zydeco

today is the result of the experimentation

which occurred during the

late 1940s and 1950s. Black Creole

musicians combined older musical

traditions, which was the unaccompanied

black French shouts called

jures, with instruments then eventually

formed whole bands.

The dominant figure in the formation

of contemporary zydeco was Clifton

Chenier. His genius for combining older

black Creole French traditions with

rock and rhythm & blues is at the very

heart of contemporary zydeco. He also

pioneered the use of the piano accordion,

giving the tradition access to the

full range of the chromatic scale.

Other musicians

(Sidney Babineaux,


Sam, and Boozoo

Chavis) also

contributed significantly

to the

development of

the form. Black

Creole duos like

Delton Broussard

and Calvin Carriere

or Alphonse

“Bois-sec” Ardoin

and Canray Fontenot preserve an early

pre-zydeco rural black Creole sound.

But there is an unmistakable tendency

toward soul and rhythm & blues among

Louisiana Creole musicians as zydeco

drifts toward the English-speaking

American market.

Over the last few years, second and third

generation performers (Alton “Rocking

Dopsie” Rubin, Lawrence Ardoin, John

In at least a dozen

languages from this

culture-area of Africa,

the phonemes “za,”

“re,” and “go” are

frequently associated

with dancing and/or

playing music.

Delafosse, Leo Thomas, the Sam Brothers,

Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural, Sidney

Semien, Lynn August, and Terrance

Semien) have pushed zydeco into bold

new directions. Yet the same band leaders

who insist on singing English lyrics

and adding saxophones, trumpets, and

electric guitars to

their groups will

demonstrate their

deep understanding

of the essential

tradition when they

play what they call

“du vrai zydeco.”

The “real stuff”

is usually characterized

by French

vocals. The rest

of the band drops

out while the accordionist

and the percussionists beat

out a jumping rhythm. The accordion

is transformed into a melodic drum,

sounding music like an African thumb

piano. These irreplaceable elements

reveal the style’s origins in the cultural

creolization of Afro-Caribbean and

Franco-American traditions.

B . B I R D W A T C H E R

Barry Ancelet is a folklorist and Chair of the

Modern Languages Department at the University

of Louisiana at Lafayette. This article was first

published in 1991 in the booklet, Musical Roots

of the South, which accompanied a series

of regional music tours featuring traditional

musicians sponsored by Southern Arts

Federation’s Regional Folk Arts Program, now

known as South Arts.






As I carried my drink from the bar to my

table with a big smile in anticipation of

seeing a popular black singer from Perú

at a Latin American club in San Francisco,

California, one of the owners passed me by

giving me a frightened look apparently not

used to seeing a black American at a Peruvian

performance. Perhaps, he thought I may

be casing the joint to plan a robbery; I don’t


The seemingly suspicious individual knew

nothing of my exposure to Black Latin America

as I’ve traveled to nine countries, mainly

Perú, where I made repeat visits. He knew

nothing of the Peruvian neighborhoods I

visited, the families I stayed with, and not

to mention my ability to speak Spanish as I

earned my advanced Spanish certificate in


It was in El Carmen, Perú, dubbed as the hub

of Afro-Peruvian culture, where I made my

first family-like connections, not only in the

home of the famous Amador Ballumbrosio,

the godfather of Afro-Peruvian music where

I stayed, but in the community where I also

made lifetime friendships.

Despite El Carmen’s abject poverty, crime

is next to zero. I could not help but notice

how the community lives in harmony; no

conflicts, no muggings, no stealing, and no

fights. When they party, they party hearty

without trouble makers spoiling the fun.

I’ve exchanged many greetings with total

strangers as we passed each other on the

street. During my first visit, I was made to

feel like a very special guests, consistently

being invited to parties, out for drinks, and to

other social events in the community. What I

love about El Carmen is that it is off the beaten

path—very few tourists with the exception

of the months of February and March when

they celebrate black heritage.

Susana Baca,

Ambassador of


Music and Peru’s

First Black

Cabinet Minister

People come from all over Perú,

and different parts of the world to

El Carmen, which is in the province

of Chincha, to celebrate with the

slogan, “Vamos Pa’ Chincha, Familia,

meaning “Let’s Go To Chincha,

Brothas and Sistas.” In Perú, blacks

are often referred to as “familia

(family).” One day, I went into a

rough neighborhood in Lima, the nation’s

capital, and I was greeted with

a loud, “qué pasó, familia,” which in

essence means “what’s up, bruh?”

Back in El Carmen, I had the pleasure

of eating home cooked Afro-Peruvian

meals as well as meals served

at the famous black-owned Mamainé

Restaurant. This “soul food” is prepared

with recipes that black Peruvian

women saved and passed down

from slavery.

According to unofficial estimates,

10-15% of Peruvians have African

ancestry and face perceptual racism

and discrimination. Monica Carrillo,

head of a Peruvian civil rights organization

known as LUNDÚ is pushing

for Peru’s rich African heritage to

be an equal part of Perú’s national


Some of the well-known Blacks who

contributed to Peruvian society include

St. Martin de Porres and his

tireless work on behalf of the poor;

Nicomedes Santa Cruz, a writer,

poet, and musician who helped raise

public awareness of Afro-Peruvian


Then we have Teófilo Cubillas, Perú’s

greatest soccer player ever, and of

course, the world renown singer Susana

Baca, the former Peruvian Minister

of Culture. In 1969, a man by

the name of Ronaldo Campos de la

Colina founded the world famous

dance troupe, Perú Negro (Black

Peru), which is billed as the Cultural

Ambassadors of Black Perú.

Teófilo Cubillas,

Perú’s greatest

soccer player ever.

As El Carmen has become my home away from home,

more and more people in the community are getting

to know me, or at least, have become familiar with my

presence. In fact, I’m even flattered that people who

didn’t have any communication with me on a prior

trip remembered me vividly upon my return. There is

a drawback, I’ve found, to all of this familiarity; especially

with my reputation as an American with a pocket

full of money. Some are beginning to think that

I’m a walking ATM. One woman showed me her gas

and electric bill and asked for my help. A young man

whom I tipped handsomely for showing me the ropes

around town frequently e-mails me asking for more

money. He is now in my spam folder.

Working together

for better health

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield —

your choice for a healthy life.

Bill Smith, a certified professional résumé

writer, was born in St. Louis, MO, and raised

in New York City near Spanish Harlem

where he was inspired to learn the Spanish

language at the age of 10. Being self taught

in the language, his late Mexican American

friend, Yolanda, encouraged him years ago

to learn the culture as well as the language.

Bill took that advice to heart, and began

to travel and explore black cultures in

Spanish-speaking countries; thus, his blog

African American-Latino World,

Visit us at

Serving Hoosier Healthwise, Healthy Indiana Plan and Hoosier Care Connect

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the trade name of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc., independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. ANTHEM is a

registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

AINMKT-0121-16 02.16

Griots Republic Vol. 1 Issue 7

July 2016



We want to know how to

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An Urban Black

Travel Mag

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