Watch this Space for New projects and collaborations:
The pandemic finally took its toll on me in trying to keep the Lucumi Choir connected and rehearsing. After a year of virtual rehearsals, I was all zoomed out. We are not funded and cannot afford a huge space where we can socially distance, so we had been rehearsing outside. As Musical Director I was unable to start new projects and rehearse material so that we sounded the best that we could. The Choir has always been project based and I have always put emphasis on quality, so it was really hard for me not to be able to do this anymore. It was never meant to be a drop in and I have never been interested in having open groups in order to teach Orisha Song. So I had to come to the decision of changing the dynamic rather than disband the choir altogether.
Unfortunately the choir is no longer open and non audition as it has been and I have selected a small group of singers that I know will be able to produce good material and who I can meet with safely during these pandemic times. I will be introducing you to our fixed members in due course. Meanwhile we do have exciting news. Over the last few months I found myself to be collaborating with Otura Mun aka Ìfé, whose work I had admired for a while. We met at Emilio Barreto’s 40th Ocha Anniversary in New York a couple of years ago Emilio was always saying we should collaborate. So Maferefun Obatala! Over the last few months, I have been collaborating with Mun, recording parts and sending them digitally and waiting for approval and suggestions. Eventually we came to an agreement with the arrangement, and a small group of us went to The Map Recording Studio in Kentish Town to record with the wonderful engineer Duncan Thornley. The files were sent over to New Orleans to be mixed and mastered and now we actually close the New album which you can Pre-Order on Bandcamp. It was such a pleasure to get my teeth into something completely different and I really enjoyed the process.
And what of the other choir members who I had to let go? Those that follow the Lucumi path, will be invited to join classes that I am setting up purely for practitioners and not for performance. I will be doing the odd open session for fun and to keep engaged with all the amazing friends that I have made during the last 15 years. Unfortunately you cannot please everyone, and I have worked for 15 years to keep everyone connected and singing. This last year has taught me that I can only keep going when I am engaged in the creative process.
I have always had the dilemma as a practitioner of the Lucumi tradition in addition to a musician, as to how much am I willing to teach and to whom. For me, the emphasis has not been to give to much information away, but to concentrate on melody, arrangements and the pleasure of singing together using the songs of Orisha as a vehicle, but now, I need to free my time, in order to teach the songs to those who may use them in a spiritual context for which they were originally intended.
I am happy to draw a close to this amazing chapter of my life. 15 years of working with so many different people, four albums and many many rehearsals, live performances and creative projects. Now I am looking forward to collaboration with a smaller group. Beginning by working towards two very different albums! Watch this space!