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Changing Lives through Music Volume 1
November 20, 2010 01:03 PM PST
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Volume 1 Playlist

1. 'Elegua' - Alex Alvear & Mango Blue (Ecuador)

2. 'Pra Se Molhar' - Daniel Ma (Brazil)

3. 'Baianada - Marcus Santos (Brazil)

4. 'Erzule' - <a href="http://www.microfundo.com/zilimisik">Zili Misik (Haiti)</a>

5. 'Chorinho de Ele' - Eleonora Bianchini (Brazil/Italy)

6. 'Instante de Vos' - Sofia Rei (Argentina)

7. 'Caribe Contigo' - Gregorio Uribe Big Band (Colombia)

8. 'Sonando Con Quito' - Alex Alvear & Marta Gomez (Ecuador/Colombia)

9. 'Mi Oportunidad' - Manolo Mairena (Costa Rica)

10. 'Zap Zap' - Tabou Combo' (Haiti)

With every Microfundo compilation you purchase, Microfundo will pay for a youth to attend music and dance classes.

Microfundo was founded on a simple premise: to change the world through music.

Microfundo artists contribute music tracks to create compilation albums. Microfundo then teams up with music and dance programs already established in their respective countries as new models for social change whose work transforms the lives of children through music.

Why music?
Music is an instrument of social change. It inspires common human feelings and bridges gaps between cultures that spoken languages cannot. It brings people together. It builds identity and pride.

By providing funding for music programs, Microfundo helps develop a social system that fights poverty. A child’s physical poverty is overcome by the spiritual richness that music provides. Music is a universal language. Through music we can teach everyone.

Get Involved
The Changing Lives Through Music movement is about empowering the lives of young people via music and dance. Check out all the ways to get involved.

HOST :: a MicroGig >

SCREEN :: a Music Documentary >

JOIN :: as an Intern >

Music & Dance Programs
Microfundo supports music and dance programs like ‘Espaco Aberto’ in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and ‘Musica y Cultura’ in Brookline, Massachussetts. Programs like these show how youth can change their everyday reality through music.

Sol y Canto ~ Sabor y Memoria Premiere Live
April 11, 2010 03:36 PM PDT
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Sabor y Memoria (Flavor and Memory) touches on issues of memory and nostalgia for one’s home country, immigration, hunger, cooking, and of course, chocolate! Everyone will want a taste!

Sabor y Memoria: a Musical Feast in Seven Courses is a suite for Sol y Canto and a string quartet consisting of seven songs in various Latin rhythms.

Brian Amador, Sol y Canto co-founder, received a fellowship to the MacDowell Colony last winter to compose part of it with lyrics addressing several different food-related topics: the need for real food rather than "fas fud," as Brian calls it, the ties to our ancestors that make themselves apparent as we cook, and the power of food to evoke memories.

Sol y Canto is the nationally-touring and Boston Music Award winning Pan-Latin ensemble led by Puerto Rican/Argentine singer and bongo player Rosi Amador and New Mexican guitarist and composer Brian Amador. Featuring Rosi's crystalline voice, Brian's lush Spanish guitar, and virtuoso musicians from Uruguay, Perú, Panamá and Argentina on piano, winds, bass, and percussion, the sextet has established a reputation for their quirky original compositions that address matters of the heart, social and global aspiration, and for their unique and driving interpretations of contemporary Latin music.

Haitian Singer Emeline Michel
March 07, 2010 07:25 AM PST
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Microfundo correspondent Amy Bracken talks with Haitian Singer Emeline Michel.

"I'd been to four Emeline Michel concerts and I'd seen her beaming face on billboards across Port Au Prince before I finally got a chance to chat with her one sunny November morning in New York's Central Park. Talk about memories and present day realities of Michel's homeland was, inevitably laced with sadness - even before the earthquake. But she carried with her a sense of hope, a gift she graces her audiences with around the world."

After Emeline's interview in Central Park, Emeline said how excited she was to spend Christmas with her son in Port Au Prince and Jacmel, two towns subsequently devastated by the January 12 earthquake. Many of those able to stay positive and make music through past periods of violence and disaster have now been silenced by grief.

But around Southern Haiti in the remaining churches, and in streets and refugee camps, the occaisional rhythm and melody can be heard from voices, instruments and portable radios providing moments of relief in the ongoing and pervasive suffering, and reminding everyone of the spiritual power of music.

Emeline Michel and Microfundo are hoping to support some of Haiti's musical talents.

Support Microfundo's Haitian Music Microfinance Project >>

Sonho Meu Live Show at Johnny D's
February 12, 2010 08:28 AM PST
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Sonho Meu Performed at Davis Square's club Johnny D's in Boston on January 21, 2010 - Here is the podcast of their set - exclusively on Show Microfundo. “There's no need to go Flying Down to Rio, just put on this infectious and upbeat collection by SONHO MEU and you're there!" Ron Della Chiesa, WGBH, Boston


Kera Washington and Zili Misik
February 03, 2010 09:43 AM PST
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Microfundo correspondent Amy Bracken talks with Kera Washington of the Afro-Caribbean group Zili Misik

The all-women band Zili Misik is based in Boston and only occasionally tours outside New England, but each of its song takes the listener on a long voyage through a spectrum of musical styles, and even languages.

The band's name comes from the strong female Haitian spirit Ezili, and Haiti has the strongest presence in Zili's songs, but the eight-member band's focus is much broader than that.

Washington: We're definitely not trying to be a Haitian band. We're not trying to represent ourselves as Haitian or as representative of Haitian music. We are representative of African roots and of African Diaspora coming together.

That's bandleader Kera Washington. Washington says such music has a particular resonance with her as an African American, but she defines African Diaspora in the broadest way.

Washington: All humanity started in Africa, so we're taking humanity as an African Diaspora.

In addition to Haiti, Zili's songs use musical styles from Ghana, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Cape Verde, Brazil, Cuba, Israel, and the US.

Zili band members have eclectic musical backgrounds, and roots in the US, Trinidad, Japan, and the Philippines. English is the native language of all the band's vocalists, but listeners are often fooled.

Inevitably, someone will come up and ask, "Okay who's from Haiti, who's from Brazil, okay, who's from...?" because I think the assumption is if we're interested in that music then it must be because we have a personal connection, and there is a personal connection, but it's not necessarily a biological one. It's definitely a cultural one.

Washington is from California and grew up moving around the US with her academic mom. Her mother got her into music early - piano, flute, choir; she even played the bass for a bit. At Wellesley College, she took music classes, but something was missing.

I loved them, yet the music that I wanted to study wasn't always included in those classes. The music that I was most interested in, this music of the Caribbean, folkloric music of the Caribbean was taught in the black studies department, so I went and tried to find out why, and in talking to one of the professors who became the chair, he told me about ethnomusicology and how I could study this music as music, as part of the music department.

Washington began to work with Wellesley Haitian ethnomusicology professor Gerdes Fleurant.

Washington: When we first had those classes, he told me you can't understand music unless you're inside it, unless you play it, unless you experience it that way, and walk around campus walking in rhythm, you know? And having three or four different rhythms in your head at the same time. You hear things differently. You understand life differently.

Fleurant taught Washington percussion, which she now plays for Zili, and a fascination with Haiti.

I feel a great connection to Haiti and also to what Haiti has given this part of the hemisphere, this part of the world, which we don't think about often. We think about the poverty in Haiti, we think about the political strife, we think about problems in Haiti. We don't generally think as a community about the richness of Haiti and the incredible gifts of freedom that Haiti gave, particularly to the Diaspora.

Beyond Haiti's extraordinary history, including a successful slave revolt that made it the world's first black republic, Washington pays tribute to its contribution to the arts. As a graduate student at Wesleyan, she wrote about studying Haitian sacred music in a secular context. Then, as a PhD student at Brown, she researched a Haitian dance and music pioneer, whom she visits from time to time on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.

But even under the tutelage of Fleurant at Wellesley, Washington's learning went well beyond Haiti.

So it started out in Haiti, but then we learned in my study with him about connections that Haiti had to all sorts of musical styles you wouldn't think of, and that opened up my study of ethnomusicology and connection to other musical instruments and eventually led to Zili.

Zili formed nine years ago, when Washington found the rest of the band through Craigslist and Berkeley School of Music. But the influence of Fleurant and those early days at Wellesley is still evident in Zili's new album, which is called Zee'lee Mee'seek, spelled in English phonetics.

People really respond to Erzulie, which is funny because it's the oldest song that we have. I mean that's the song we started with when we started nine years ago in my living room, you know in Jamaica Plain, in my three-room apartment. We started jamming on Erzulie because it's the first song that my professor, Gerdes Fleurant, taught me, you know, Erzulie, oh, Erzulie so, mwen pa genyen mama, mwen pa genyen papa. Yon sel petit la mwen genyen. Li tombe nan dlo.

Washington: That's the song that I think people respond to, Erzulie, on this album, also Justice, which is an epic. Laught, it's almost 9 minutes long. It starts out with a song from Zimbabwe, Nhemumasasa, so it uses the mbira.

And then by the end of it we're in the land of reggae, so it travels many different places.

Washington: Our songs are political, our songs are historical, and they have to do with love but they're not necessarily love songs, so to have a song like Kuma that speaks directly to love, or falling in love… how do I know that I love you? I feel it in every beat of the drum. I feel it in your smile, every line of your smile that I know is yours, you can continue to look, but you know you've already found love. It's not a typical Zili song.

This love song, which is about Cape Verde, grew out of a trip Washington took there on a grant for educators. She currently teaches integrated arts at a Boston public elementary school, and is on faculty at Wellesley as a dance and drum ensemble director.

Washington has been musically inspired by her travels to Africa, South America, the Caribbean, and Israel's West Bank. Influences have also been brought by band members' travels and contact, locally, with musicians from around the world.

Washington: We want to combine all of these musics to provide a reconnection, to create a community that is heard in the music so that it's not lost, it doesn't become a stew, where you can't really identify different musical styles but that you begin to hear all these different styles bumping up against each other and moving together.

This method of using multiple musical styles, in a way that shows parallels and distinctions does elicit curiosity about their origins, which is kind of what Washington is going for.

I like that people can see themselves in this music. I also like enjoy that when people who have no connection to Haiti, to Cape Verde, to Brazil, to California, that they feel that connection and it encourages them to go and find out why, find out about the music, find out, outside of Zili, where it comes from, why are people involved in it, what's it performed for, what's the tradition, what's the culture, what's it like?

Argentine singer/composer Sofia Rei Koutsovitis
November 24, 2009 06:36 AM PST
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Microfundo correspondent Amy Bracken talks with Sofia Rei Koutsovitis who is part of a long line of South and Central American musicians who have enriched the Boston/NY music scene with a pan-American style that fuses varied folkloric traditions with American jazz.

from the Podcast:

Sofia Rei Koutsovitis likes to sing. I mean really sing. She has since she was a little girl growing up in Buenos Aires. Koutsovitis has developed an interest in Afro-Peruvian rhythms and this is something she is persuing with a percussionist and bassist in their new Avantrio project.

Koutsovitis: "It's a very interesting setting because there is no harmonic instrument - there is no piano or guitar so the quality of the sound of the trio is something very particular and every time we play people get really, really interested by it because you can hear so well each of us doing what we're doing and it's like a very raw sound."

Sofia on Microfundo.com