Performers Come Together in Celebration of Afro-Latinidad Culture, Peace, and Solidarity at The #AfroLatinoFestNYC2016

The Afro-Latino Festival NYC showcased this past weekend, (July 8th – July 10th) the 4th edition of its spectacular event, creating a safe space for Afro-Latinos to express themselves through the power of art and culture.

Afro-latino 1

Photo By: ©AdrianGutierrez

This year the festival partnered up with various sponsors to celebrate the 3-day event, bringing everyone together in an atmosphere surrounded by enthusiasm, peace and unity. The festival’s mission was powerfully expressed from the beginning – “to pay tribute to the African roots of people from Latin America and the Caribbean.” This positive message to educate others and celebrate Afro-Latinidad was felt through every presentation given by a variety of speakers and artists in attendance.

Since the start of the event on Friday July 8th, Panelists and artists highlighted their work with the purpose for raising social awareness on issues faced by Afro descendents in the U.S. , Latin America, and the Caribbean. The NY Public Library at Schomburg center for research in Black culture, opened up with deep discussions centered around issues pressing our community today such as immigration, the Black Lives Matter Movement, and more.

Afro-Latino Maluca

Photo of performer Maluca By: ©Mario Carrion

Several members in the Afro-latin community were also recognized like Colombia’s Population Director at the Ministry of Culture Moisés Medrano, Ariana Curtis of the Smithsonian, and Grammy winning Latin Jazz Pianist Danilo Pérez including many more. The evening showcased amazing performances by artists like Colombian powerhouse “El Caribefunk” and Baile funk performer Zuzuka Poderosa.

Afro-Latino Caribefunk

Photo of CaribeFunk By: ©AdrianGutierrez

The celebration continued through the entire weekend at the Bed-Stuy Restoration Plaza in Brooklyn featuring exciting, and meaningful performances by Afro-descendants, where many expressed the importance of celebrating this event. Michigan based producer Sango (Da Rocinha Set) was received with praise by fans who showed admiration for his work. He explained what it felt like being in a crowd of people welcoming him as well as many other artists taking the stage. “I’m really excited… a lot of people don’t really know about the sound, and it’s kind of like showcasing what I’ve been doing lately, especially with the Brazilian funk,” said Sango, adding that this was the “perfect environment” to really experiment and perform.

Afro-Latino Sango

Photo of Sango By: ©Mario Carrion

Being well known for his remixes of artists like Drake, The Weeknd, and Aaliyah (including many more), he’s always making sure people are getting, “something they can’t just listen to on the internet.” The crowd got an exclusive listen of Sango’s new touches to each sound, to which he focuses on blending different genres not always heard on the radio. “I’m getting songs people are familiar with… blending stuff like Kanye West over a Brazilian beat. I’m really just drawn all types of directions.” added Sango. He expressed the importance of educating everyone about African roots saying, “In a lot of Latin American countries there are African roots and it’s responsible for a lot of cultural spotlights in every country. We have to recognize what the culture is and how it is being represented.” The artist was relaxed on sunday, ready to celebrate with everyone excited to see his performance. Sango is currently working on his new album while taking his time to really perfect a new sound he can deliver to his audience.

Another very talented pair who conquered the stage this past weekend was the neo-soul hip-hop duo OSHUN. Their energetic drive and passion on stage influenced their fans to really become a part of their amazing performance. Niambi and Thandi, both pumped after performing, were feeling unified surrounded by so many great people coming together in celebration for Afro-latinidad and Afro descendents. “It feels good to just be around so many people, bringing in love and unity. [Everyone’s] so different and so alike. Recognizing how alike we are and wanting to come together because of that feels really good.” added Niambi.

Afro-Latino OSHUN

Photo of OSHUN By:  ©Mario Carrion

Before forming OSHUN, both young ladies met in NYU where they instantly connected and performed in their very first talent show together. Now another year of celebration at the Afro-Latino Festival NYC, is a year to recognize what both strongly agree is a forgotten community. “It is super important for us to celebrate because in a lot of ways the Latino community is forgotten… there’s a lot of times when the community is hidden and feels invisible,” expressed both Niambi and Thandi. They went on further to explain that although they aren’t by definition “Afro-Latino”, it was great to celebrate and, “uplift the beauty” of their culture, of the people, and of a community. Niambi and Thandi want to remind everyone of their holistic selves saying they desire to, “dismantle the idea that we’re just bodies or minds and reinstill that we are mind, body and spirit.” They were both focused on really inspiring others to view themselves as spiritual beings first, having the mental and physical elements follow.

Another artist who made an appearance was DJ Geko Jones, who hosted and was also there to represent Afro-Latinidad culture through his music. “For me, this is one of the most important festivals we have in the city. It is a representation of the Afro-Latino culture that brings a latin collaboration which is important to celebrate,” said Jones as he began to convey the importance of celebrating Afro-Latinidad. In 2008, Andy & Geko Jones founded Que Bajo? A NYC tropical dance party he describes as, “the best latin rave in town” showcasing Latin music mixed with modern electronica. “We try to keep it balanced by representing music by afro descendents,” added jones. The audience at the Afro-Latino Festival NYC got a taste of the “electro-tropical” music.

The Afro-Latino Festival NYC showcased this past weekend, (July 8th – July 10th) the 4th edition of its spectacular event, creating a safe space for Afro-Latinos to express themselves through the power of art and culture.

Afro-Latino DJ Geko Jones

Photo of DJ Geko Jones By:  ©Mario Carrion

Garifuna musician Aurelio Martinez, also shared how delighted he was to be at the festival this year. “I am happy to be here, first because it is a good place for Garifuna music, and secondly because our love for Afro-Latinidad unites us all,” said Martinez as he also called himself a “Latino Garifuna.” With pride, the Afro-Latino artist celebrates his African and Caribbean indian roots by making music which represents and supports the Garifuna culture. “It is a type of music centered around social issues that connects local problems with global problems as well,” described Martinez. Garifuna music is played with traditional instruments such as drums and maracas, but Martinez mixes it all in with his guitar skills too, demonstrating this on stage Sunday night. Martinez’s goal is to keep his ancestors culture alive for later generations.

Afro-Latino Aurelio Martines

Photo of Aurelio Martinez By: ©AilynRobles

The rest of the event was graced with the presence of other well-known stars showing support for the Afro-Latino Festival NYC. Among them was Miroslava Morales, a panamanian actress who finds herself in New York City and was celebrating this event for her first time. “This is the moment to celebrate together and to express joy for latinos all over the world. I sympathize with the latino community in New York,” said Morales, “despite the disappointments, the struggles, the hard work, and all the negativity, there is the joy in the music that unifies us all. There is harmony, not even our different nationalities can stop us all from celebrating,” added the Panamanian actress who currently participated in a Colombian telenovela “La Esclava Blanca” (The White Slave).

Afro-Latino Miroslava Morales

Photo of Actress Miroslava Morales By: ©RedensDesrosiers

There is no denying that the Afro-Latino Festival NYC provides an empowering platform for all to celebrate a culture which deserves to be heard and recognized. In a world where everyone is fighting for peace, equality, and harmony, the Afro-Latino Festival already delivers all 3 with an opportunity to celebrate the wonderful contributions of all Afro-Latinos around the world through engaging presentations.

For More Information on the Afro-Latino Festival NYC 2016 visit: http://www.afrolatinofestnyc.com/

Nicole Marie
Nicole Marie

Nicole Marie is currently an undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts. She enjoys celebrating her Latin roots and is happy to show the world how proud she is of her cultural background. Some of Nicole’s favorite hobbies include singing, playing the guitar, and binge watching her favorite TV shows on Netflix (preferably Parks and Recreation). She now assists the MY Lifestyle Magazine team as a social media intern and hopes to gain valuable experience from this amazing opportunity.

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