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Juniata Artist Series Hosts Masters of Caribbean Music

(Posted October 24, 2005)

Ti-Coca, renowned performer of Haitian Twoubadou music.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Melding a melodic mix of island musical styles, the three performing groups comprising the Masters of Caribbean Music will present a concert at Juniata College at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 3 at Rosenberger Auditorium in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts on the Juniata campus.

For tickets and information about the Juniata College Artist Series, please call (814) 641-3605. General admission tickets for single performances are $20, except where otherwise noted. Single-show tickets for seniors over age 65 and children age 18 and under are $12. Juniata College students are admitted free with a student ID.

Performers from three distinct Caribbean musical traditions will be featured: Puerto Rican jibaro music, Trinidadian calypso and Haitian twoubadou. Jibaro music will be represented by the ensemble Ecos de Borinqeun, The twoubadou group Ti-Coca et Wanga-Neges, making its first tour of the United States, will perform. Renowned calypso singer The Mighty Sparrow rounds out the list of performers.

Jibaro music, as performed by Ecos de Borinquen, originated with settlers, called "jibaros," who came to Puerto Rico in the 16th century from Andalusian Spain. The Andalusian influence is still evident in jibaro, which is played by small groups accompanied by cuatros (a small 10-string guitar), a gourd rasp and maracas. Modern jibaro groups can include bongos and clarinet or trumpet.

The group Ecos de Borinquen is led by Miguel Santiago Diaz and has been performing together since 1978. The group has recorded a variety of albums, including "Jibaro Hasta el Hueso," which is on the Smithsonian Folkways label. The album received a 2004 Grammy nomination for Best World Music Album and a Latin Grammy nomination for Best Folk Album.

Haitian musical traditions are represented by performer Ti-Coca (David Mettelus) and his acoustic quintet Wanga-Neges. The group plays Twoubadou (derived from the word "troubadour"), which usually includes a singer-composer backed by small string-based groups. Twoubadou music comes from a blend of Cuban and Haitian music.

Mettelus, nicknamed Ti-Coca (which means "little bottle of Coca-Cola") for his diminutive stature, is considered one of the best singers in Haiti and formed the group in 1971. The group features Ti-Coca on vocals and maracas; Allen Juste, accordian; Mathieu Chertoute, tanbou (barrel drum); Wilfrid Bolane, bass; Kesner Bolane, drums; and Richard Hector, guitar and banjo. The group played to acclaim at the 2004 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C.

Calypso music developed in Trindad in the 1800s Featuring lyrics in English, the form became very popular from the 1930s to the 1960s, due to such crossover hits as "Rum and Coca-Cola" by the Andrews Sisters (1944) and "The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)" made famous by Harry Belafonte in 1956.

The Mighty Sparrow, whose real name is Slinger Francisco, started his career in 1956 and is still performing throughout the United States, South America and Europe. Calypso music still remains a vibrant musical form, as musicians as diverse as jazz legend Sonny Rollins and Nat King Cole have recorded in the genre.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.