May 192012

The Americana World Fest is coming!! There is another WorldFest in Louisville, and it is held at the Americana Center every June. Here is this years lineup.

AlHamsa/Gypsies of the Nile will be there. They’re a network-ensemble of bellydance performers comprised of women from Southern Indiana and the Louisville, KY area. Performing for this Show, AlHamsa Bellydance (the especially advanced performers) will show us what Fairoza, Raqia, and Zia can do; and we will also be seeing the ensemble’s up-and-coming, new bellydancers, Gypsies of the Nile, directed by Fairoza. Among these performers be on the look-out for Dilara, Mahina, and Dona with her veil fans.

Raqia’s Studio, BellyDance & More, is home for AlHamsa and Friends and is located in downtown New Albany (225 Pearl St.). They dedicate themselves to empowering women through dance – healing body, mind, and spirit. Ladies, of all types, ages, and sizes – y’all come! It’ll be great.

(And if you mistakenly think that you just haven’t got the body-type for it – think again. This group numbers beautiful, beautiful performers, most tastefully and elegantly decked out in costume – I’ve seen them! — from among ladies who shop among the half-sizes.)

Raqia’s annual Toy Drive (last year held at the Grand Theatre in Downtown New Albany) — which donates toys to children of need through charities such as AIM of Kentuckiana, Appalachian Mountains Foster Care, and Brandon House – is a yearly event for belladi bellydancers and Louisvillians alike and gives us all a chance to give back to their community.

Fairoza teaches beginner bellydance at JCPS on Wednesday evenings, concurrent with the school year. The Studio BellyDance & More is dying for every woman in Kentuckiana to come dance with them! For class info, 812-989- 0821.


Self Kuwa (real name Eric Mbrirzi) is a local Conscious/Alternative teen hip/hop performer and former Congolese refugee. He originally hails from the town of Uvira in the South Kivu region of the Congo (Central East, bordering Burundi). He and his courageous family are among the fortunate survivors of the horrific war, genocide, and conflict of that part of the world. This young rap/hip-hop performer has been in the States for five years and speaks English very fluently in addition to his native tongue of Swahili (he raps in both).

SK’s highlights include performing at the Americana Center (where he was mentored by staff member Jared Zarantonello), so this event holds a very important place in his heart. His second album, Swanglish (Swahili+English; released this year), is thirteen tracks of all-original material, which can be downloaded for free (can’t believe how generous this guy is), using this link: — Check it out! (But be sure to come and hear him at Americana as well.)

Self Kuwa will be attending Onondaga Community College in the Fall and hopes to study Computer Technology as a precursor to pursuing a career in Music Production. Watching Self Kuwa’s/Eric’s story blossom is a nothing-short-of-inspiring example of the American Dream unfolding before one’s eyes — he has a bright future ahead of him, and we should be hearing great things about him in years to come.


Nashville-based, Cherokee social-activist singer-songwriter Michael Jacobs advocates a characteristically Native American brand of social change (traditional values, compassion and empathy, peace, environmental concerns, mental/social/spiritual/emotional well-being – human concerns so self-evidently good, so clearly essential, that they shouldn’t need ‘advocacy,’ or require ‘social change,’ but yet do) via his thought-provoking lyrics.

His Cherokee name is ‘Unetlnv Ujeli Dekanogisgo,’ meaning ‘He [Who] Sings for [the] Creator.’ Michael’s latest album, The Art of Peace, was released earlier this year. He tours regularly across the US and Canada: at colleges/universities, festivals, fairs, libraries and museums, and at pow-wows. His debut CD, Sacred Nation, won the 2003 Native American Music Award for Best Independent Recording. His wife, Nicki Jacobs, will perform traditional Native American fancy-shawl dancing.

It’s really going to be a privilege for Louisville to have the Jacobses at Americana Fest this year.


A Musical Passport groove coordinated by percussionist Gary Pahler (Producer of KET’s Louisville Life), Coco Yam offers a cool, relaxed breeze fusion-stew of Afro-Pop/Afro-Beat, Jazz, Salsa, Reggae, and Cha-Cha. Mm. . . mm . . .

Members include KY artist-in-residence Gregory Acker, also the head of the Kyene Drum ensemble (flute/soprano saxophone/percussion/vocals); Kelli Brodersen (Associate Producer for KET’s Louisville Life) (lead vocals); Paul Carney (of Flamenco Louisville) (rhythm guitar); afrobeat educator Jeff Ellis of Frankfort (lead guitar); Yahya Johnson (studied under the great Nigerian percussionist Babatunde Olatunji) (percussion/tenor saxophone); Steve Loomis (bass guitar); and Ian Thomas (trombone).

Coco Yam is a (food?) staple at Belvedere’s World Fest; cook! at the World Equestrian Games; and come as a tasty ingredient in the Kentucky Arts Council’s Performing Arts Directory.


There is a rhythmic adage in West Africa that if you dance you drum, and if you drum you dance. So it makes sense that Baba Kenyatta, with his Guinean style drum corps and the recently formed West African Dance Troupe, under the instruction of Christa ‘Twaa’ Whaley, will be joining together.

The invigorating, vibrant sounds of West African drums: djembes, dundunbas, sangbaas, and kenkenis, intermingled with the diaspora of West African dance, will make for a very riveting AmericanaFest performance.

They have performed together before, most recently at the Kentucky Center for the Arts, this past April, as part of Da’Ville Classics.

Both Baba Kenyatta and Christa Twaa Whaley educate local kids in drumming and dancing on a regular basis (in after-school programs, at churches, workshops, at summercamps, etc). For info on the educational programs and performing, please contact Makalani Penman at 502/509-6798 (Sabari Bengoma) and Christá ‘Twaa’ Whaley (accent on the ‘a’) at 240/232-6230 or 240/2DANCE0 (The West African Dance Troupe).


‘CPHR DVN is Hip Hop’s Ascension’: husband and wife (‘Wize Mathematiks’ Cypher and Sultra Diviine) formed CPHR DVN while stationed together in the military, slightly over a decade ago, in Honolulu.

Their metaphysical hip-hop is influenced by sounds of CapeVerde (whence Sultra’s parents hail), Portuguese Ballads, reggae, Trip-Hop (ie., Poritshead), Jamaican Toasting from the late 60s/early 70s, Classical Music, Sounds of Nature, modern rock & hip-hop, avant-garde singers like Bjork, etc.; and funkily interspersed with socio-political, positive, thought-provoking lyrics of a multidimensional nature designed to express love and healing — with a danceable beat.

To summarize in their own words, they ‘are Hip-Hop alchemists, lyrical metaphysicists, and quantum dancers.’


They have released four albums, including last year’s IX KUTZ. . .Return of the Ninja! This album is based on the Nine Levels of Power, or nine cuts (as they are known) of Ninjitsu. Each song symbolizes one of these cuts in sequence, and the audience takes a ‘hip hop, a hippie, a hippie to the hip hip hop,’ following an intro track. And – even beyond – Wize is studying Music Production at UofL and they are about to start work on their next album.

They recently have performed at the JaGa Reggae Fest 2012 in Galveston, TX, and perform as well at a variety of venues around town, such as Solidarity, the Monkey Wrench, and Bearno’s, as well as WorldFest; plus HarvestHoot, Artography (Kenn Parks), ZombieFest, and Metaphysical Rhymes.


‘Nachale’ means ‘Dancing’ in Hindi — Bollywood Dance is not only a style from the movies amalgamated from various folk-styles — it is also a way to exercise and lose weight in India. Nachale imports Bollywood Dance Workout to America (where we sorely need it). But Nachale is not only a workout, it is also a local Bollywood troupe as well — all the brainchild of Bangalore native Vindhya Katta.

Vindhya teaches Nachale at Baptist Milestone East Wellness Center and other locations throughout the City. For more information, contact Vindhya at and 502-767-2116 (phone/text).

Nachale! Naturally!


The mesmerizing guitar of Long Thanh Nguyen — there is nothing like it. He is one of the great electric guitar players in Louisville, but most natives have not yet heard his music since he has been living in relative obscurity since arriving in this country. (Besides guitar, he can also play four traditional instruments, including a one-stringed violin and a sixteen-stringed flattop instrument).

Before coming to the US many decades ago as a Vietnamese War refugee, Mr. Nguyen taught musicians how to play and sing, including people who would later become famous in Saigon. He used to play backup for famous popstars of the day. One of my personal favorite stories about Long Thanh happened last year at the Thanksgiving Vietnamese Pop Variety Concert at the Horseshoe Casino, where he asked a famed Pop singer during a pause if he could come up on stage and join in — and she waved him up with obvious delight. Long Thanh let if riff. Mr. Nguyen has been making fewer appearances lately due to health considerations, but Louisville needs to hear him because Long Thanh plays with all his heart.


Rebabas (a South Sudanese homemade stringed instrument similar to a banjo that with a hypnotic groove), electric guitar, drums, singing, and occasionally keyboard makes up the Rebaba with the core group being co-founder Michael Pac (rebaba, drum), James Malou (drum), David Bior (Rebaba), Jacob Laul (rebaba, singing), Phillip Hakim (Keyboard, Electric Guitar), and occasionally Andrew Evrre (electric guitar), and David Bird (electric guitar).

The topics of the Rebaba music are universal — war & peace, love & women, family, emotions, grief, etc.

The band was formed in 2007 under the mentor-ship of UofI Bloomington Professor Ruth Droppo, although all members — former Sudanese Lost Boys (Dinka Tribe). These true survivors of horrors unimaginable are very fortunate to be living in the US against all odds juggling careers, family, further education, and musical past-time. One of the members without my asking anything about his experience started to be candid about some of his experiences and how it has effected his personality and how it still effects him on day-to-day basis. His and the other members lesson is never underestimate the power of music — the Rebaba, singing, and drumming got them through the horrors of war, being stuck at military camps, during the awkward US adjustment period, and today.

Because the members of the Rebaba all lead busy, healthy, productive lives; it can be difficult for the Rebaba to play — the Rebaba in my opinion of the great bands of any genre that Louisvillians really need to get to know.

One of the Rebaba’s highlights was performing at their first Waterfront WorldFest last year in which they were the favorite performance of Mayor Greg Fischer.

Alright, enough of that!

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