SMF presents the US debut of the extraordinary Haitian band Chouk Bwa Libète on a double bill with Haitian-American Leyla McCalla and special guest Dom Flemons.
An utterly captivating traditional Haitian Mizik Rasin—roots music—band, Chouk Bwa Libète realizes the source of a drum and dance style using percussion and call-and-response vocals that are infused with Haitian Voodou. Four percussionists and two dancers are led by composer Jean Claude Sambaton Dorvil on vocals and the fer, an iron bar/bell that announces different rhythms employed to call up the spirits. Chouk Bwa Libète displays the deep African heritage of Haiti, which the ensemble refers to as having been “torn from Africa and secretly re-planted in a new land.” Theirs is a proud statement of Haitian culture, a nation that has seen the hardest of times and maintains a relentless spirit and strength.
A Haitian-American who sings in French, Haitian Creole and English, Leyla McCalla plays cello, tenor banjo and guitar. Born to Haitian immigrant parents in New York City, she was the cellist with the Grammy-winning string-band Carolina Chocolate Drops (who played SMF in 2008) before pursuing her own career. Deeply influenced by traditional Creole, Cajun and Haitian music, her music is at once earthy, elegant, soulful and witty, and for this engagement, she is joined by her trio and special guest Dom Flemons.