Ned Sublette and Alexander LaSalle

“Canga Mundele: Tracing the Secret of Bomba from Saint-Domingue to New Orleans to Puerto Rico”

“White and black people in the United States speak the same language—up to a point, anyway. But Spanish speakers in the United States have always been the ‘other.’”

“At the time when Cuba was experiencing intensive economic growth, Spain invested in Louisiana, holding the colony through the years of the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and all but the very end of the Haitian Revolution.”

Ned Sublette, Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo

Photo by Robert Mapplethorpe (1980). Photo courtesy of Ned Sublette.

Photo courtesy of Alexander LaSalle.

Ned Sublette and Alexander LaSalle will provide a little-known and recently excavated history of the transnational and transcolonial relationship between New Orleans, Saint-Domingue, Haiti, and Puerto Rico as it relates to the 19th century origins of the bamboula, or as it’s pronounced in Kikongo, bámbula. The talk will show how the Haitian Revolution figures as one of the prominent sources of the generative explosions of popular music in the hemisphere, transforming New Orleans into the musical capital for which it is still known. The lecture will be accompanied by a short musical performance.

Ned Sublette is the author of The Year Before the Flood: A Story of New Orleans (Lawrence Hill Books, 2009); The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square (Lawrence Hill Books, 2008, paperback 2009; Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Book of the Year for 2009); and Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo (Chicago Review Press, 2004, paperback 2007; winner of the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award). Sublette is a former Cullman Center fellow at the New York Public Library, a former Tulane Rockefeller Humanities Fellow, and a Guggenheim Fellow. In 2010-11 he was Patrick Henry Writing Fellow at the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. He is presently working on a new book, The American Slave Coast , in collaboration with his wife, Constance Sublette. Sublette is also known for a thirty-year-long career as a singer-songwriter. Born in Lubbock, Texas, and raised in Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico, he moved to New York City in 1976. He was part of what became known as the “downtown scene” of the late ‘70s / early ‘80s, and has played hundreds of concerts in New York, the U.S. and Canada, Latin America, and Europe. His forthcoming album, recorded in New Orleans in July 2010, is titled Kiss You Down South . His most recent album was Cowboy Rumba , released by Palm Pictures, preceded by two collaborations with Lawrence Wiener, Ships at Sea , Sailors and Shoes and Monsters from the Deep , both of which featured Sublette singing with a cappella group The Persuasions. His song “Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly,” composed in 1981, was released in a version by Willie Nelson in 2006, and the lyrics supplied the punchline for a week of Aaron Magruder’s comic strip Boondocks . He has appeared as a musician on recordings by Peter Gordon and Love of Life Orchestra, Rhys Chatham, Glenn Branca, Lenny Pickett, and many more, and has produced or co-produced recordings by Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, Maraca, Los Van Van, Viento de Agua, Adewale Ayuba, and Kanda Bongo Man.

Alexander LaSalle is the founder and musical director of Alma Moyó Afro Puerto Rican Bomba group. Alex is a soulful singer with a near-photographic memory, who has learned hundreds of never recorded Bomba songs and has quickly become one of the leaders of this living musical tradition. He is a skilled percussionist, songwriter, and singer whose versatile musical talents lend themselves to singing not only Afro-Boricua music but also Afro-Dominican, Afro-Cuban, and Haitian traditional music, including an extensive treasure chest of Bomba songs and rhythms, dating as far back as the 18th century, countless Cuban Palo and Makuta songs, Dominican Palo and Salve, Plena, and Musica Jibara. Alex is also Bakonfula to one of the oldest houses of Kongo-Cuban Palo, the house of Batalla Sacampeño Mayombe. Alex is fluent in the Afro-Cuban Bantu/Kongo language, and is an avid researcher and oral historian. He has presented lectures for educators and students at Yale, Columbia, New York University, Long Island University, and others. A teaching artist in the public schools of New York City, Alex is currently a fulltime member of Grammy Nominated and Grupo Folklorico Experimental Nueva Yorquino, and has performed with such groups as, Roberto Cepeda’s Bomba Aché, William Cepeda’s Afro-Boricua, Felix Alduén y su Tambores, Palo Monte, Ntima Ngoma Mayombe, and La 21 Division.

Date: Monday, October 31, 2011

Time: 7PM

We prefer that you RSVP. Your RSVP will help facilitate security. Also, we expect that the event will fill-up quickly. If you are learning about this event at the last minute, please feel free to come, and we will do our best to accommodate you, but we cannot guarantee seating if the event fills up. Please RSVP at [email protected] or (212) 925-6625, ext 207.

Please bring a valid picture i.d.

Division of Interdisciplinary Studies at the Center for Worker Education
The City College of New York
25 Broadway, 7th floor (in front of the bull statue at Wall Street)
New York NY 10004
(212) 925-6625, ext 0

Subways: 4 or 5 to Bowling Green; R or 1 to Rector Street; J or Z to Broad Street

Sponsors and Special Thanks:
This talk is possible thanks to major funding from the City College of New York at the City University of New York (CCNY, CUNY). Major funding was also provided by the City SEEDS Award, and with support from the Offices of the President and Provost and President Lisa Staiano-Coico. We would also like to acknowledge support at CCNY from the Division of Interdisciplinary Studies at the Center for Worker Education, the Department of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, the M.A. in the Study of the Americas, and the Department of Media and Communication Arts. Additional thanks go to the Transnational and Transcolonial Caribbean Studies Research Group (TTCSRG) and Kaiama L. Glover.