The Creole Choir of Cuba are Emilia Diaz Chavez (Choir Leader), Teresita Romero Miranda, Marina Collazo Fernandez, Yara Castellanos Diaz, Yordanka Sanchez Fajardo, Irian Rondon Montejo, Fidel Romero Miranda, Marcelo Andres Luiz, Dalio Arce Luis, and Dalio Arce Vital, who sadly passed away following the recording of ‘Santiman’ in 2012.
Be prepared to hear something completely different and ‘new’ from Cuba. In glorious songs like Edem Chanté (Listen To Us!), The Creole Choir celebrate the history of their Haitian descendents enslaved to the Caribbean from West Africa. The Creole Choir’s ten remarkable singers come from Camagüey, Cuba’s third city, down towards the eastern end of the island. They grew up and studied music in this old colonial town, designated a UNESCO World heritage Site in 2008 for its colonial architecture. They have nurtured music passed down in their families since the early 19th century, gradually adding modern Haitian sounds following their own first visit to a Haitian festival in 1996.
The Creole Choir were founded in 1994 during the ‘Special Period’ when the Cuban economy fell into a black hole following the end of the USSR and of Soviet support for the revolution. Food was short while homes and work places often went dark due to lack of electricity. It was at this difficult time that members of the Professional Choir of Camagüey who were descendents of Haitians, decided to re-forge the resistance songs and laments of their forebears. Lead by their Choir Director Emilia Díaz Chávez, Grupo Vocal Desandann, as they are called in Cuba, revived the songs of their ancestors for modern times. Desandann literally means ‘descendents’ and as the choir say: “For us music is like food, it feeds the spirit and is a major inspiration for everyday life”.
Written by the late Jan Fairley, ethnomusicologist, journalist, broadcaster, human rights activist, champion of Cuban music and our dear friend.