Music of the Black Diaspora concert explores music from calypso to rap

By Jimmy Christenson

As horns sounded nearby, Brandon Nam ’09 turned on an iPod and nervously paced the hallway outside the Janet Wallace concert hall. In a few short moments he was to go onstage for his performance in the Music of the Black Diaspora Concert held Feb. 17 in celebration of Black History Month.The show drew a crowd of 50 despite a string of setbacks, including a wrong date given in print advertising that listed Friday as the performance date and the last-minute withdrawal of gospel group Voices of Tamani.

“The Black History Month committee had been having meetings since mid-November, so around then I came up with idea of having a concert to show the evolution of black music across the world after the whole slave thing,” said concert organizer Evan Coles Harris ’10. “But the actual planning didn’t start until mid-December.”

MacJazz opened the show last Sunday with a five song set ranging from the Miles Davis inspired “Birdland” to Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Fantasy.” After a short break, Nam’s eight-member band Caribbeatz closed the show with a near 45-minute set.

“[Performing] is something we enjoy a lot,” said Caribbeatz pianist/singer Kevin Williams ’11. “We’ll play basic Caribbean music, reggae, calypso. We also play American pop, hip-hop. Basically whatever is in our iPod, we’ll try to cover it.”

“The actual performances went off without a hitch. I’m really glad we got as many people to show up as we did,” Coles-Harris said.

Asked whether he would spearhead the Music of the Black Diaspora again Coles-Harris laughed.

“I’m so proud of how [the event] went.[But] hell no. Concert planning is very hard,” he said.

Sitting near him, Nam agreed that the event had been a success.

“I was pleased. It’s weird performing in this building because we never have before and I feel like most of the crowd didn’t know what to expect from us, but I think they liked that spontaneity about us,” Nam said.