Without Africa, there'd be no Miami bass.
There'd be no rock 'n' roll or hip-hop or jazz or salsa. No Hendrix, Nas, Byrd, or Machito.
In fact, almost every modern music genre can be traced back to that great continent across the Atlantic. And that's why, 16 years ago, Jose Elias threw the first Afro Roots World Music Festival. And that's why, today, it's stronger than ever.
As Elias says, "It's important to showcase and celebrate African culture in our community. We're brought up in this society without ever being given an inkling on our backgrounds and cultures. Through music, we deliver that message not only here in South Florida, but all over the world."
Afro Roots World Music Festival 2014 Lineup
-The Resolvers (Deerfield Beach)
-Morikeba Kouyate (Senegal)
-Miami Street Band (Miami)
-DJ Le Spam (Montreal / Miami)
"Our goal this year was to represent the evolution of African culture into all of the styles of music that came from it, like Latin funk, reggae, and hip-hop," Elias says.
Ancient roots sounds will be supplied by Senegal's Morikeba Kouyate, whose 30-year career celebrates a 700-year lineage in West Africa. He performs in the Mandingo language and translates to English. He plays tribal instruments, tells stories, and acts out "warrior folklore."
Elias says: "Next year, we'll have an album out for him."
The non-profit that Elias executive directs, Community Arts & Culture, is producing the Afro Roots fest. And the organization has also founded Afro Roots Recordings.
Elias has already put together a band of local musicians to back him up, and intends to produce more recordings for financially strapped artists through the non-profit sector.
7th Circuit Studios in the heart of Little Haiti will host this year's party. The spacious midsize indoor venue has excellent sound, cool lights, and offers the perfect stage for the big-band reggae of The Resolvers and the Magic City funk of Suénalo.
Colombian hip-hopper Ephniko Dialecto and the Biscayne Boulevard horn players of the Miami Street Band round out the bill while City of Progress representer DJ Le Spam will keep it live between sets.
Elias is proud of what the festival has accomplished. "The whole goal is to take it all throughout Miami and South Florida, and bring it to areas where they are underserved with arts programming. Over 16 years, we've not only fulfilled that goal, but expanded on it."
He also says that next year the expansion will continue with new locations for events throughout Miami-Dade County.
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For now, he's busy preparing for this year's fest, and putting a modern spin on the roots of our music.
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Afro Roots World Music Festival 2014. With Suénalo, The Resolvers, Morikeba Kouyate, Miami Street Band, Ephniko, and DJ Le Spam. Saturday, August 9. 7th Circuit Studios, 228 NE 59th St., Miami. The festival begins at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $10 plus fees via afrorootsfest.brownpapertickets.com. Visit afrorootsworldmusicfest.com.