For Black history month I attended the opening night of the Bronx Rising! Black History Month Double-Header: Afro-Latino Identities at the Bronx Music Heritage Center in the South Bronx. This event, which I found through the wonderful City Lore website, was a beautiful celebration and discussion about afro-latinx identities and music. It was a pleasure to see the documentary "Nana Dijo: Irresolute Radiography of Black Consciousness" by artist Bocafloja. His documentary dealt with afro-latinx identity, especially that of afro-Mexican identity.
I was also able to dance and sing along to the lively music from Irka Mateo Folk Quartet. The band plays folk Dominican music featuring themes of the "Palenqueras" the female maroons of San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia. it was the first black town in the Americas to abolish slavery.
From the BMHC facebook page:
The Irka Mateo Folk Quartet!Irka Mateo is a Dominican singer songwriter and performer from the Dominican Republic. She sings Afro Dominican folk music and writes “Mestizo Music,” accordion and guitar-lead songs inspired by the indigenous/Afro/European folk traditions of her native country, as well as the wider Caribbean and Latin America.Of the awesome, Irka traveled for ten years in the rural areas of the Dominican Republic documenting more than thirteen genres of folk musical traditions--unknown to the wider Dominican culture. As a result, her extensive field research was recognized by the Grammy Foundation, which awarded a “Preservation Implementation” grant, allowing her research to be completed and donated, as an archive, to the Dominican National Archives as well as to the Ethnomusicology Archives at Wesleyan University in the United States.She leads Irka Mateo y La Tirindanga, playing her original compositions and Irka Mateo Folk Quartet to play Afro Dominican music, adding guitar and bass to this percussion based genre.For the BMHC on Feb 17th, the Irka Mateo Folk Quartet will showcase the figure of the “Palenquera” the maroons black women of the Caribbean whose work and dedication contributed to the abolition of slavery. The repertory will focus on Dominican folk songs sang by black women, in the countryside of her natal Dominican Republic descendants of the ancestral maroons. She will also include“ Palenquera” a song that she wrote for the Black women from San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia, the first black town in the Americas to abolish slavery.
Irka Mateo Folk Quartet is:
Irka Mateo: Voice and Percussion
Plinio de la Cruz: Guitar
Edwin Camilo: Bass
Joel Guzman: Percussion