The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
FUNDarte and Miami Light Project open the 6th Global Cuba Fest, a month-long festival of performances that celebrates the contemporary music and artists of Cuba and the Caribbean Diaspora, with a historic first-ever U.S. performance by Cuban songstress Ivette Cepeda on March 9th at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium. Ivette Cepeda, widely considered to be one of Cuba's leading vocalists, puts Miami in the spotlight, and we have Ever Chavez, founder and executive director of FUNDarte, to thank for this. I spoke to him briefly about Global Cuba Fest and what we can expect this year.
Neil de la Flor: FUNDarte brings some of the most interesting performers from Cuba to Miami. What's your process and the aesthetic criteria you use to find these performers? Ever Chavez: We find them through colleagues in the arts community, by traveling and experiencing live performances, and by watching how Miami audiences react to these types of events. We are keenly aware of the quality of productions and are always in search of presenting acts of the highest caliber. Talent and virtuosity are key. We love to work with emerging talent, artists who are often fusing and innovating genres and artistic disciplines. We love to be able to premiere new works in Miami, and always welcome the opportunity to pioneer these types of new performances for our Miami audiences.
ND: What's the highlight of Global Cuba Fest?
EC: We kick things off with vocalist Ivette Cepeda, who is at the moment the Cuban singer on the island with a wide and expansive repertoire, in league with all Latin American singers of the same genres. She performs on March 9th at Miami-Dade County Auditorium along with her band Reflexion who are renowned for fusing bolero, “filin,” Latin Jazz and rock.
Then on the weekend of March 15-17th, we present Global Cuba Fest Weekend on the Beach at the Deauville Jazz Club and the North Beach Bandshell. Featuring three Cuban singer/songwriters that have been living in Spain for the past decade, spearheading the Cuban music scene in Madrid: Yadam, Julio Fowler and Pavel Urkiza. That weekend there are also three concerts celebrating the AfroCuban roots of Cuban music, fusing jazz with the rhythms and sounds of the island’s African heritage, including the internationally acclaimed Creole Choir of Cuba and Yosvany Terry’s Jazz quintet. The festival closes in April with a performance by Miami’s Gema Corredera, a vocalist who will debut live performances of new songs from her debut solo album.
ND: Are there political implications from bringing these artists to Miami?
EC: Up until now we have not had any. We do not work with artists that are involved in that sort of thing, nor artists who promote any types of ideologies. We are careful to select artists that just represent their culture and their artistry.
ND: What's the biggest challenge organizing the festival?
EC: The logistics, selecting the artists each year. This is our sixth edition and Global Cuba Fest keeps growing each year due to audience demand, plus national and international acclaim and media attention.
ND: How does Global Cuba Fest appeal to a wider audience beyond the Spanish-speaking community?
EC: Global Cuba Fest presents artists from Cuba and the Cuban Diaspora who are working within every genre of music, from jazz to hip hop to Timba, from Latin Rock to Bolero. This variety in programming appeals to everyone interested in experiencing the latest collaborative projects from international cutting-edge artists experimenting with contemporary fusion within different musical genres. We present artists who have consistently attracted a large international following, bridging audiences across age, ethnicity and musical interests. It is also true that traditionally, many international musicians working in these genres have found inspiration in the African-based rhythms that characterize Cuban music and the music from the Cuban Diaspora. We find, through our audience surveys, that GCF audiences represent a diverse cross-section of Miami residents as well as tourists, reflecting Miami's general population. We feel very strongly that to present the art and culture of any ethnic group with a significant presence in a community helps everyone in the community to understand one another a bit better and to build cultural bridges across Miami.
Ivette Cepeda, $25-55 ($5 discounts in each price range for students and seniors, plus group discounts available), at Miami-Dade County Auditorium, 2901 W. Flagler St., Miami; 800-745-3000 or 305-547-5414. Free parking. Global Cuba Fest activities include free workshops, receptions, post-performance parties, ancillary events and other concerts featuring internationally acclaimed Cuban artists from Cuba, Europe and New York, happening during this month-long celebration of contemporary Cuban music and artists. For more information on Global Cuba Fest, please visit www.fundarte.us.