Lockdown has been an interesting experience, for a choir director, it has thrown many balls in my court, challenging me on how to manage the remote singing experience. I was really quite surprised to receive requests and commissions during this time, and one of the commissions we received was to host the International Slavery Remembrance Day organised annually by the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.
My aim on accepting this commission was to focus on our song tradition in terms of resistance and connection in a deeply spiritual way. The Choir of course is a cultural expression of a living religion but we cannot forget, especially in these times, where the songs come from and why and how they survived. This coming weekend 21- 23rd we are happy to host this event. We hope that our songs for Egun will honour all that lost their lives as a direct result of the horrors of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, and resonate as they are broadcast over the river during the Emancipation Ceremony on the 23rd August 2020, led by Choir member Natalie Cooper.
Scroll to find Natalie reciting a beautiful prayer to Ancestors:
We invite you to get involved with us, on Friday as I teach a few sequences that we will be performing in a pre recorded concert for all of you to enjoy on the Sunday. Here is all the information:
Our pre recorded concert is launched at 3pm on Sunday 21st August 2020. Due to Covid 19 we had restrictions on Choir numbers and for safety reasons, the concert was pre-recorded and can be seen online in addition to onsite at Greenwich.
African Spirituality as Resistance and Revolution
Events leading up to the 23 August 1791 also included ceremonies and divination.
Vodun is documented as a significant context within which the revolution was enabled, despite the fact that the religion was completely prohibited.
Similarly in Cuba, Lucumi has been significant in terms of rebellion and autonomy.
Lucumi grew within the Cabildos, which were organised by the European Authorities. These Cabildos were organised according to ethnic background.
Cabildos allowed for the practise, organisation and survival of African traditions and it is clear that African Divination systems were used to plan strategies for rebellion.
Cabildo leaders such as Hermengildo Jáurequi (leader of Cabildo Lucumí) and Juan Nepomuceno Prieto (Captain of Cabildo Lucumí Oyó) were highly involved in planning and implementing insurrections in 1835. It has to be understood that divination and Spiritual expressions were very much part of everyday life.
The songs that we sing, are so much more than beautiful praise songs. They express a legacy and power. These songs belong to a living tradition that has been kept alive despite the Slave Trade, trauma, repression, and anti-religious philosophies such as Marxism in Cuba which effectively outlawed religious practices until the 1990s.
We are very proud to be presenting this important day this year.
Online Concert. Songs of Fire and Water, featuring Choir members Aimee Spanswick, Liz Lassiter, Mish Aminoff, Sonia Kounasso, Jimena Pardo, Dan Greifer, Jennifer Parnasse and Bill Bland on percussion. Daniela De Armas singing lead and directing.