The Creole Choir of Cuba perform songs that on the whole celebrate their roots in Haiti. Following the 18th century Haitian slave revolts led by Toussaint L’Overture, many Haitians ended up in Cuba, either as a result of slavery then eventually through willing migration.
The choir (consisting tonight of six women and four men) perform a set that acknowledges this history as well as singing freedom songs dating from the oppressive years of the Duvalier regime. Various members take turns on the congas set up at the back of the stage, and there’s also minimum accompaniement using claves and cowbells. The songs are uplifting and joyful and you can sense the spirit of rebellion without needing to understand the Creole language.
Being from Cuba, some of the songs have a distinct Salsa feel to them and the choir are quick to encourage members of the audience to join them on stage for a dance. Towards the end of their set they apologise for not speaking English very well but tell us that they have a “present” for us. This turns out to be a perfect a capella rendition of Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable” which showcases their great harmonising.
They have a new album out “Tande-La” released on Peter Gabriel’s Real World record label so I’m guessing most of the songs they’ve done tonight are on there. All in all it’s a great show. Uplifting, touching and well worth catching live.