The Creole Choir Of Cuba: Reviving Caribbean History In 'Santiman'

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The Creole Choir Of Cuba: Reviving Caribbean History In 'Santiman'

 

June 10, 20134:14 PM ET

Heard on All Things Considered

BANNING EYRE

June 10, 20134:14 PM ET

Heard on All Things Considered

BANNING EYRE

The Creole Choir of Cuba's latest album, Santiman, has a satisfying flow from celebration to solemnity.

Courtesy of the artist

It might come as a surprise to learn that people of Haitian descent are the largest ethnic minority in Cuba. But that's the history behind The Creole Choir of Cuba, a vocal and percussion ensemble that performs songs about history, faith and social change in the Caribbean.

The choir consists of six women and four men, who sing in tribute to the migrations of their ancestors. On their new album, Santiman, the choir delves into the intertwined histories of Cuba and neighboring Haiti.

There are clear echoes of Christian church music in "Juramento," an arrangement of a Cuban folk song. But elsewhere, the focus shifts to pre-Christian sources, as in "Simbi," an ode to a Haitian spirit. The percussion and lead male vocal evoke the feeling of a Haitian Voodoo ceremony, with ties to ancient spiritual practices in West Africa.

The history of Haitian immigration to Cuba goes back to the Haitian Revolution more than 200 years ago. It was only in the 1990s, however, that The Creole Choir of Cuba made the short trip to its ancestral home. Its members have since returned often, particularly in the wake of Haiti's devastating earthquake. The song "Pou Ki Ayiti Kriye?" asks how such a beautiful country has to suffer so much.

Read the rest here: https://www.npr.org/2013/06/10/190345103/the-creole-choir-of-cuba-reviving-caribbean-history-in-santiman