The first official release of Folklore Urbano NYC’s newest production (El Barrio Project-SALSA), Black is Beautiful, bridges continents and cultures, conveying a message of unity as a catalyst for healing and change.Written by Cruz “Chino” Melao and Pablo Mayor, the lyrics are at the heart of the song, nodding to the struggle of African people throughout history and the ongoing dream for freedom which is still at the heart of the Black Lives Matter movement. It is not a message only for African people, it is a call for unity of people from all races to celebrate the beauty of people of color. It is a call to “Come on board” and spread love.
The mix of the West African Beninese rhythm “Tchinkoume” with Cha-cha-chá, represents the vision of Pablo Mayor for a #GlobalSalsa in this new album. Benin-born Parisian Laurent Hounsavi sings in the West African dialects of fon and yoruba, and his presence along with the rhythm and language from his native country Benin, draws a direct line to the continent of Africa which historically has provided the backbone to much of the music from Latin America, specifically salsa. The percussion parts recorded by Puerto Rican/Cuban maestro Oreste Abrantes, and the legendary bass lines of Rubén Rodríguez, together with Pablo Mayor’s renowned energetic, bright horn lines executed by NYC’s elite jazz and Latin instrumentalists, carry the sounds of NYC salsa, with its rich Puerto Rican, Cuban, and jazz roots.
El Barrio Project-SALSA, the fourth production of Folklore Urbano NYC, in collaboration with songwriter and Co-Executive Producer Nick Chavarria, is the vision of Pablo Mayor, the artistic director of Folklore Urbano NYC, continuing his quest for #GlobalMusicToUnify.
Black is Beautiful is not only a song and a video, but a campaign for UNITY which has generated dailogue, art, music, and dance around the subject of racism, cultural diversity, and acceptance, among people young and old. A grant-funded project brought Folklore Urbano into Sleepy Hollow Middle School for an 8-week all-school cross-disciplinary residency March 2-April 29, 2022 where students grades 6-8 created self portraits framed by cultural identity objects (directed by Andrea Harrison), wrote poems and studied works by Maya Angelou (with ELA teacher Jennica Viera), and participated in after school music and dance workshops with Dance Director Daniel Fetecua, and Musical Directors Pablo Mayor and Anna Povich de Mayor. The resdiency culminated with a joyful celebration of diversity, celebrating unity and acceptance in a district of 60% hispanic residents with original music and choreography created by the Directors, in collaboration with the middle school students.