Palenquero music from first free Black town in Americas at Flushing Town Hall 7/23
Flushing Town Hall invites audiences to celebrate Colombian Independence on Saturday, July 23 with a live concert from Kombilesa Mí, a one-of-a-kind ensemble from Palenque, Colombia.
"I am overjoyed to start bringing international artists back to our stage this summer, and Kombilesa Mí is a must-see for the energy they bring, the traditions they preserve, and the styles they blend, " says Ellen Kodadek, Flushing Town Hall Executive & Artistic Director.
Beloved by global music enthusiasts, Kombilesa Mí's NPR Tiny Desk concert has racked up nearly 40, 000 views.
Born from the rich musical and historical heritage of San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia (the first free Black town in all of the Americas) Kombilesa Mí was founded in 2011 and fuses traditional sounds with urban pop. Flushing Town Hall audiences will discover what the group refers to as "RFP, " or Rap Folklórico Palenquero, a combination of cumbia, son de negro, mapalé, and son palenquero.
Over traditional percussion, which they play on marímbula and handmade drums of their own design, the band's members rhyme and rap in both Spanish and Palenquero—a language evolved from the fusion of African Bantu, Portuguese, French, and English.
As the BBC notes, Kombilesa Mí's unique take on hip hop is helping to preserve an old language at risk of extinction, and the band is further preserving its town's founding spirit through its use of modern-day hip hop as an artistic tool of resistance and protest.
San Basilio de Palenque was founded in the 17th Century by escaped African slaves who were later granted their official freedom in the 18th Century after decades fighting Spanish colonialists.
Every detail of the group's presentation is meaningful, down to their hairstyles. As reported by culture trip, Kombilesa Mí braids their hair in patterns and styles similar to those worn by their ancestors, "who used hair-braiding to create maps to help guide them and their fellow slaves to freedom."
The band is comprised of Andris Padilla Julio on vocals, Keila Regina Miranda Pérez (KR MP) on vocals, Alí Fernando Navarro (MCPM) on vocals and tambor alegre, Martín Elias Maza on tambor llamador, Kendri Cassiani on tamboras, Orlys Reyes on marímbula, and Edwin Valdes on maracas.
Flushing Town Hall is New York City's go-to presenter of global music and serves a regional audience of diverse immigrant communities. Before its pause during the pandemic, it last celebrated Colombian Independence Day in person back in 2019 with a bullerengue concert featuring band Bulla en el Barrio.
"New York City is home to a thriving Colombian community, along with New Yorkers of other backgrounds who are eager to learn about and enjoy the traditions of their neighbors. All ages are welcome at our upcoming celebration. It's going to be a fantastic show, " says Kodadek.
The show begins at 2:00 PM and is preceded by a free dance lesson at 1:00 PM. For those unable to attend the concert, the event will also be live streamed online. Tickets are $15/$12 for members and $8 for children under 12. The dance workshop is FREE with ticket purchase. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit: https://www.flushingtownhall.org/kombilesa-mi-colombian-independence-day
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