“Lakou Mizik, formed after the devastating Haitian earthquakes of 2010, is a genial cross-generational coalition along the lines of the Buena Vista Social Club. Its songs, some of which are topical, draw on the rhythms and incantations of voodoo, the trumpeting of rara carnival music and hearty call-and-response vocal harmonies on their way to galloping, exultant dance grooves.”
- The New York Times
“We have nearly lost everything - but we’ll never lose our culture”
- Steeve Valcourt, Lakou Mizik
The fabric of a community is always tested and often damaged in the wake of conflict or disaster. When the earthquake of January 12, 2010 struck Haiti – the world watched in horror as apocalyptic images emerged from the nightmare. These images would dominate international news stories for months. In these darkest hours when the streets were still filled with the wreckage of what once was, above the sorrow and confusion rose the sounds of songs. Vodou chants, gospel ballads and folk songs filled the air in a brave attempt to deal with the overwhelming despair. Music, as it has through every tragedy and triumph in Haiti's convoluted history, soothed, inspired, healed and brought people together.
Formed in the wake of this unprecedented tragedy, Lakou Mizik is a diverse collection of musicians representing a cross section of generations, faiths and musical styles. On April 1, Lakou Mizik release their debut album on the Cumbancha Discovery label, calling out to the world, Wa di yo, nou la toujou - “You tell them, we’re still here”!
The nine members of Lakou Mizik range in age from late sixties to early twenties and come from across Haiti's musical, social, religious, and geographic spectrum. Each has a powerful story to tell: the young poet who survived a ferry disaster that claimed up to 1500 lives – floating in the ocean for 3 days on the back of a bloated cow carcass before being rescued; the church singer whose home was destroyed in the earthquake and whose Christian faith led her to initially resist singing vodou lyrics; the elder statesman of racine, or roots, music whose deep knowledge of vodou rhythms makes him a living encyclopedia of Haitian culture; the guitarist and singer seeking to emerge from the shadow of his famous father and define his own musical legacy. While each member of Lakou Mizik has a unique tale to tell, they stand united in a mission to honor the healing spirit of their collective culture and communicate a message of pride, strength and hope to their countrymen and world.
LEARN MORE ABOUT EACH MEMBER OF LAKOU MIZIK HERE:
The idea for the band was hatched on a hot November night in Port-au-Prince in the muggy basement studio of Steeve Valcourt, a guitarist and singer whose father is one of the country's iconic musicians. Still reeling from the earthquake, a cholera epidemic raging and a political crisis with enough tire burning ferocity to close the international airport, Valcourt, singer Jonas Attis and American producer Zach Niles agreed that Haiti's music and culture could serve as an antidote to the flood of negativity.
Niles, who ten years previously was part of the documentary film and management team that introduced Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars to the world, had traveled to Haiti to explore ways in which music could help play a role in recovery and empowering social change. Niles, Valcourt and Attis assembled an exceptional lineup, creating their own musical A-Team, a powerhouse collective of singers, rara horn players, drummers, guitarists and even an accordionist.
Over the next few years, the band honed their electrifying live show, presenting hours long concerts that blended the soulful spirit of a church revival, the social engagement of a political rally and the trance-inducing intoxication of a vodou ritual. Finally, after building a devoted local fan base, the band headed to the Artists Institute in Jacmel, home to a beautiful new recording studio and music school built by the We Are the World Foundation to help develop Haiti's music industry.
Two veteran music producers joined the group to help create their debut album: Chris Velan, a Montreal singer-songwriter and producer responsible for producing two albums for Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, and British producer Iestyn Polson, famed for his work with David Gray, David Bowie, Patti Smith and others.
The resulting album reflects the African, French, Caribbean and U.S. influences that collide in Haiti. The spirit-stirring vodou rhythms and call-and-response vocals are supported by the French café lilt of the accordion. Intricate bass lines and interlocking guitar riffs mesh mesmerizingly with the joyful polyrhythmic hocketing of rara horns. These powerful layers are topped by sing-along melodies with inspiring, socially conscious lyrics. The end result is a soulful stew of deeply danceable grooves that feels strangely familiar yet intensely new -- and 100% Haitian.
In Haitian Kreyol the word lakou carries multiple meanings. It can mean the backyard, a gathering place where people come to sing and dance, to debate or share a meal. It also means "home" or “where you are from," which in Haiti is a place filled by the ancestral spirits of all the others that were born there. Each branch of the vodou religion has its own holy place, called a lakou, where practitioners may come together in the shade of a sacred Mapou tree. With Wa Di Yo, Lakou Mizik invites listeners to join them in their lakou, to share with them the historical depth, expressive complexity and emotional range of the Haitian people. Emerging from one of the darkest periods in the history of a country with many dark periods, Lakou Mizik presents a feeling of joy, hope, solidarity and pride that they hope will serve as a beacon for a positive future in Haiti.
Lakou Mizik Tour Dates (More TBA)
|April 23||Washington, DC||Dance Place|
|April 29-May 1||Denver, CO||Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center|
|May 6||Brooklyn, NY||BRIC House Ballroom|
For more information, music samples, or to arrange interviews, contact:
Joe Adler at Cumbancha: firstname.lastname@example.org / 802-425-2118
Press materials, photos, biographies and more available at www.cumbancha.com/lakoumizik/press.
Additional Lakou Mizik Links:
ONLINE PRESS KIT: www.cumbancha.com/lakoumizik/press
Idan Raichel European Tour
We are happy to announce that Cumbancha artist Rocky Dawuni's latest album, Branches of the Same Tree, has just been nominated for a GRAMMY in the Best Reggae Album category. Dawuni, the only non-Jamaican artist in the running this year and the first Ghanaian to be nominated, is up against some of the heavyweights of modern reggae including Morgan Heritage, Luciano, Jah Cure, and Barrington Levy. It is also marks the first Cumbancha album to receive a GRAMMY nomination.
Reflecting on the prestigious nomination, Dawuni says that he feels, "truly honored and at the same time humbled. I’ve always focused on giving my best in my work and it’s a good feeling to know that it is being appreciated. I am grateful for the recognition. Branches of the Same Tree is about stressing the common roots that we all share in this human family. It inspires the listener to aspire to a place of hope. It’s about having faith in the power of compassion and oneness."
The final ballots to determine the GRAMMY winners are due by January 15th, 2016. If you are a voting member, we encourage you to include Rocky Dawuni on your ballot. The 58th Annual GRAMMY Awards will broadcast live on CBS on Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
Thanks and congratulations to Rocky for this well-deserved recognition!
The Cumbancha team
Cumbancha recording artist Rocky Dawuni releases his new music video for the song "Nairobi " today in partnership with OkayAfrica.com. Follow this link to view the video. The song "Nairobi" appears on Dawuni's acclaimed 2015 album Branches of the Same Tree. Filmed in Kenya's capitol city, the video is an ode to this "beautiful city in the sun" and a plea for peace and celebration of shared destiny. The video captures a picturesque portrait of iconic and historic monuments of Nairobi as it explores the everyday life of the city. Dawuni serves as a traveling minstrel, journeying across neighborhoods, bearing a message of goodwill.
A Singer and Songwriter with a Global Perspective, Daby Touré Brings a Storyteller's Voice to Amonafi.
“From the first time you hear it, prepare to hum along, tap your toes, and be mesmerised by Daby’s infectious brand of global soultinged pop.” - BBC
Amonafi, the title of Daby Touré’s new album, means "once upon a time" in the West African language Wolof, and reflects Touré's desire to weave stories with a fresh perspective on the past, present and future of Africa. "I wanted to present my vision of Africa’s history," says Touré, "Its relationship to the world, what really happened, not peddle the same old platitudes and non-truths." Beyond a tribute to Mother Africa, where Touré was born in 1975, one can hear in this assertion a wish to break free from the aesthetics of another era.
Touré refuses to embrace the mantle of the "traditional" musician, a role that many would like him to play. The singer has always shown a love for pop: Stevie Wonder, The Police, Michael Jackson, artists who first triggered his desire to become a musician. Touré chooses to speak with his own voice, follow his instincts, and allow his work to honestly reflect the multiple influences that irrigate his identity. On Amonafi, which will be released in North America on September 18th, Touré's singular vision reveals a complex yet approachable sound, one that defies expectations and stereotypes of what it means to be an African artist today.
Born in Mauritania and raised in Senegal, Daby Touré has now lived more than half his life in Paris. Raised between two cultures, this "Afropean" fully embraces his dual nationality. Neither one nor the other, Daby Touré is a citizen of the world in perpetual reconfiguration. Touré Touré, the group he founded in the late 1990s with his cousin Omar, was already a first step towards his goal to build bridges between Africa and the world. In the early 2000s, he was on the roster of Peter Gabriel's label, Real World before perceiving that the label's well-defined sound and image became a straitjacket for a musician eager for artistic freedom. It was time for a change. "Of course I carry Africa inside me, I sing in languages of West Africa: Fulani, Soninke, Wolof. But with this new album, I approach what I like most: soul, pop, music we can sing beyond borders."
His fifth album marks the continuation of a solo career that began ten years ago. Amonafi alternates between bittersweet songs and more playful ones, moving from flavors of folk and soul to upbeat Afropop. Touré is an unclassifiable author and prolific composer, a subtle singer, a multi-instrumentalist who has made this new record almost entirely by himself. Working at his home studio, Daby Touré is as much an artist as a craftsman. In Amonafi listeners can sense an identity in transit, one moving away from clichés. It's a fitting image for the soundtrack, a series of little stories, which paint an image of a creative mind that is always in action....read more
Idan Raichel comes full circle and goes back to basics on his intimate new album, At the Edge of the Beginning. An introspective work, consisting of mostly gentle, personal songs with unassuming melodies and arrangements, the album reflects on the cycles of life, human connections and starting anew.
The title of Francesca Blanchard’s first full-length record, deux visions, speaks volumes in its own right, hinting at the richness of the music the album contains. It encapsulates the singer-songwriter’s dual identity on several levels: one word in French and the other in English, together meaning “two visions” and together enunciating the sound of the word “divisions.”
A singer and songwriter with a global perspective, Daby Touré brings a storyteller's voice to Amonafi. Touré never fails to astound audiences with his ethereal voice, masterful guitar work and catchy original songs.His singular vision reveals a complex yet approachable sound, one that defies expectations and stereotypes of what it means to be an African artist today.