I was honoured last night to have the opportunity to speak at the guest music talk series at Middlesex University. The session was entitled 'Vodou Percussion: Context, Symbolism and Performance' and drew upon the my learning and research over the last year through research of Haitian percussion, Vodou spirituality and within lessons with (living legend) Sanba Zao.
At the beginning of the session I was able to remotely interview Sanba and other members of Lakou Mizik (probably Haiti's most important contemporary musical act). Sanba, James Carrier and Steeve Valcourt were on hand to perform traditional Haitian songs and rhythms and to explain the genesis of the band, their link to Vodou culture and the meanings of Vodou symbols connected to the lwa (vodou spirits). The band managed to zoom in from Seattle on a day off on their US tour which sees them perform at major festivals including Big Ears Festival , Festival International de Louisiane and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
I'd sincerely recommend checking out Lakou Mizik's new album, Leave the Bones. The meanings of the songs can be found here . My favourite song from the album is 'Ogou (Pran Ka Mwen). 'Ogou’ is the Vodou spirit of Iron and War. A Vodou follower asks for protection from the brutality of life’s daily battles - “Ogou, you brought me here, take care of me.”'. The music video is a real visual/aural treat evocative of the scenes in the Jacmel Karnaval. You can watch the video on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXxK07bsj5Y
A huge thanks to Dr. Brian Inglis for the invite (which came after some very lively conversation at the RMA conference in Newcastle last year!). I am very much looking forward to continuing our conversations about the link between music and spirituality.