Jadele McPherson, (MA UChicago/MFA '17) is an interdisciplinary artist who debuted as a solo vocalist at the Zinc Bar with Afrocubanismo and starred in Prophetika at La Mama Theater directed by Charlotte Braithwaite this February. She performed her piece DA CLOCK (2015) at Pregones Theater for Pepatian's Creating Connections, and then at JACK sponsored by the Brooklyn Arts Council Community Fund Grant (2015). The piece is the third in a series reflecting on violence and the black body following DEBAJO DEL LAUREL (2013) which debuted at Teatro Latea with her Lukumi Arts theater collective. On Dec.4th, 2015 she self-produced Wemilere: Songs & A Just Meditation at JACK. In Spring 2016 she will debut La Sirene and perform with Latasha Digg's tribute to Jayne Cortez at the Highline Park. Infusing Afro-Cuban genres into interdisciplinary arts projects, she is committed to Afro-Latin@ arts education, community building, and traditional arts as a healing response to trauma and division in multicultural communities.
DIRECTOR Maya James daughter to the Atlantic Ocean, washed ashore on the asphalt of Baltimore City, is a poet, playwright, fiction writer, and actress. Every since she was a little girl, old women would sidle up beside her smelling like hard work and peppermints, needing to unload their troubles, prayers, and blessings on an unbiased ear. Their early gifts inspired that little bookish girl to pursue the writer’s life. Ms. James' poetry/fiction has been published in Drum Voices Revue, the Minneapolis Liberator, and she is a fellow of the Callaloo writing workshops out of Texas A&M Univ. Ms. James is also a first place winner of the College Language Association's Short Story Competition; winner of the Dr. Floyd Gaffney National Playwriting Competition at the Univ. of California, San Diego; and recipient of Howard University’s Owen Dobson Award for Dramatic Writing.
Diosvany Valladares was born and raised in Havana, Cuba, and by 25 had mastered every Afro-Cuban percussion genre from rumba and batá to Arara drumming. As a boy growing up in these traditions in the community of El Cerro, Valladares is part of well-known family of santeros and artists in all Afro-Cuban disciplines. This backbone has led him to become a vital member to New York City’s Afro-Cuban religious communities hvaing reloacted here in 2001. He is known for being a passionate and energetic performer and has recorded and performed with Roman Diaz. He has also performed with Oriki Omi Odara and Raices Habaneras and remains integral to the Afro-Cuban arts community in New York.
Charles Hart is a producer, visual artist, batalero, and arts educator from Middlesex, Vermont. He has bought innovative projects to the classroom utilizing hip-hop elements and production, multimedia, clay and mosaic murals. Hart directs FixaFlat Productions and Cringe Audio which foster musical collaborations with top producers, artists and performers for cutting edge recording and experimental music projects. He has worked in the Afro-Cuban arts community as a percussionist and arts organizer for over a decade, to cultivate new sounds based in clave and Afro-Cuban bata percussion. Over the years he has worked with and produced for Philbert Armenteros, Juan Fuentes, Angel Guerrero (Enyenison Enkama), Sandy Perez, Lekian Aguilar (Havana) and many others.
Yomaira Garcia is an heiress to a powerful cultural inheritance of Havana Afro-Cuban performers. The niece of revered Orlando "Puntilla" Rios and the unique Amelia Pedroso (founder of Obini Bata, akpon and rumbera), she is a talented vocalist and performer. Raised with the traditions and deep cultural knowledge of Afro-Cuban traditions, she began studying and performing at a young age, and by 13 was already learning and performing lead singing parts. She has performed with many Afro-Cuban folkloric ensembles in Miami and New York including artists/performers Denis Quesada, Philbert Armenteros, the all-women's group Obini Odara, Lazaro Galarraga, Pedro Martinez, Pupy Insua and many others. She is now a featured vocalist at El Fogon Center for the Arts during Friday rumbas in the Bronx.
Angel Guerrero is the LukumiArts Abakua Specialist. Guerrero is a lecturer, researcher and musician born and raised in Havana, Cuba. He is one of the most respected and knowledgeable Morua the Cuban Abakua Society and recorded the first comprehensive compilations of Abakua chants in the Efik language. After relocating to the Midwest in 2002 he has been a pillar in furthering the academic and popular notions of the Abakua society and Afro-Cuban culture he intimately knows from his upbringing in Marianao. He has performed at Joe’s Pub, DePaul University, Oberlin College and other cultural institutes in New York and Miami. Internationally he was part of a Afro-Cuban delegation to Brazil in 2005 and participated in the first musical collaboration between Cuban Abakua and African Ekpe musicians in Paris, France in 2008. As the lead singer of Enyenison Enkama, he continues he work as a curator and musician to promote Afro-Cuban arts and culture.
Aida Fernandez is a positive bright force in her community that is always bringing people together. Inspired by her Afro-Cuban heritage in Matanzas, in Miami and Chicago she has a passion for promoting Afro-Cuban culture and events. She joined forces with McPherson to form Chicago's first rumba nights at La Guantanamera in Logan Square. She is a hard working organizer for Afro-Cuban arts events in Chicago and works with art galleries, restaurant owners, entrepenuers and others in the Cuban and Latina/o communities.