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Afropop Worldwide Study Tour of Cuban Music:
The Havana-Oriente Express
, 1/03

Letter from Ned on 2001 Cuba Seminar

2001 Schedule

Registration 2001


web site

Cuban Music & Popular Culture Seminar

Afropop Worldwide is a radio series on PRI, Public Radio International. They have live music at They are dealing with the death of Ephat Mujuru, who died coming into Heathrow on the way to a hospital in an ambulance without his cousins who were traveling with him - they were not allowed into the country.

Letter from Ned on 2001 Cuba Seminar

Dear Colleague:

I don't have to tell you the importance of Cuban music. Cuba was always a leader in music, and in Cuba the music has never stopped, not for a moment. Today the island is boiling with music and musicians.

If you want to know about Africa, go to Cuba - where the cultures of the Yoruba, the Kongo, the Carabalí and the Arará are maintained and practiced.

World Music Productions and the Cuba Research and Analysis Group have invited me to come along with you on an intensive cultural study session of Cuba that I think will be truly educational and inspiring. We're going to start out in Havana, then go across the island on an air-conditioned bus to the historic colonial city of Trinidad, to Santiago de Cuba, Guantánamo, and back through the great Afro-Cuban city of Matanzas. We'll experience such typical Cuban genres as son, rumba, changüí and the Afro-Haitian tumba francesa, the sacred batá music and dance of the Yoruba religion, the modern style popularly called timba, and more. We'll meet with Cuban experts and scholars, with an emphasis on comprehending the history behind the places and genres we see.

Given that U.S. law forbids you to go to Cuba as a tourist, is this legal? Yes! This is NOT tourism - no beach trips, no cigar-buying expeditions. This trip is serious cultural study, and you have to qualify for it. (There are a number of ways you could possibly qualify. Contact us.) Knowledge of Spanish is not necessary, though it is helpful.

For more information, you can send an e-mail to

I hope you'll join us in Cuba in November.


Cuban Music & Popular Culture Seminar 2001 Schedule

Afropop Worldwide's
Cuban Music & Popular Culture Seminar

Havana - Santiago de Cuba - Guantanamo - Matanzas - Havana
Nov. 22 - Dec. 2, 2001

Presented by World Music Productions and the Cuban Research and Analysis Group (CRAG)

NOTE: The schedule is still evolving. All activities are subject to change

November 22 (day 1) Thursday

Morning: Arrive at José Martí Airport in La Habana from Miami and check in at hotel (Note: all participants must be at Miami International Airport at 3:00 AM for check-in)

Evening: Welcoming dinner with Cuban musicians. We'll experience decompression by hanging out family style with an up-and-coming son band. We recommend turning in early because Friday's going to be strenuous.

November 23 (day 2) Friday (La Habana)

Morning: Walking tour of La Habana Vieja. A distinguished Cuban architectural historian will give a guided tour of the old city and answer your questions about its history.

Afternoon: Visit to Fundación Yoruba in Centro Habana - a newly opened museum created by an independent association of babalaos (scholar-diviners of the Yoruba religion popularly known as santería) which displays the personalities and attributes of the orishas (deities of the religion).

Evening: A visit to the Wemilere African Roots Festival in Guanabacoa, a barrio of Havana known for its intense Afro-Cuban culture.

November 24 (day 3) Saturday (La Habana)

Morning: Free time

Afternoon: Rumba and orisha performance with Yoruba Andabo. This excellent Havana-based rumba group plays and dances both rumba (the percussive Cuban street music) and music of the Yoruba religion using batá drums. In the latter segment the dancers impersonate the orishas in full costume.

Dinner: at a paladar, or private restaurant.

Evening: Timba research -- wherever the best dance band is playing. Timba is an old word for "rumba" that in the mid-90s came to be applied to the contemporary hard-edged black dance music of Havana. It could be Los Van Van, NG La Banda, Paulito FG, Issac Delgado, Adalberto Álvarez, Charanga Habanera, Bamboleo, Manolito y Su Trabuco - or someone else . . . we'll keep you posted.

November 25 (day 4) Sunday (La Habana-Trinidad)

Late Morning: Depart for Trinidad

Afternoon: Arrive Trinidad and check in at hotel

Evening: Cabildo de San Antonio de los Congos Reales. A traditional organization of Congo culture in Cuba.

November 26 (day 5) Monday (Trinidad-Santiago de Cuba)

 Morning: Walking tour of Trinidad

Depart Trinidad

Night: Arrive Santiago de Cuba and check in at hotel

November 27 (day 6) Tuesday (Santiago de Cuba-Guantánamo)

Morning: Depart for Guantánamo and presentation on Haitian and Jamaican culture in Cuba

Afternoon: Presentation of Tumba Francesa, the Afro-Haitian dance and music brought to Cuba after the Haitian Revolution of 1791.

Evening: Changüi. An old-timey cousin of the son of Oriente, the changüí still lives in Guántanamo.

Night: return to Santiago

November 28 (day 7) Wednesday (Santiago de Cuba)

Morning: Presentation

Afternoon: Visit Basílica del Cobre, the mountaintop home of the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, protector of Cuba and known in the Yoruba religion as Ochún. On a clear day you can see Jamaica.

Evening: Performance at Casa de la Trova, the home of traditional vieja trova in Santiago.

November 29 (day 8) Thursday (Travel Day)

Morning: Depart Santiago de Cuba for Matanzas.

Evening: Arrive Matanzas and check in at hotel.

November 30 (day 9) Friday (Matanzas)

Morning: Free time

Afternoon: Presentation on Afro-Cuban culture in Matanzas, one of the great African cities of the New World. Known as "the Athens of Cuba" for its cultural life in the 19th century, it was a commercial rival to Havana. Both a major slave port and the heart of the sugar industry, Matanzas gave birth to the danzón and the guaguancó, as well as being principal seats of santería, palo (Congo religion) and, from the Calabar region of the Africa, the Abacuá secret society for men.

Evening: Folkloric music and dance event.

December 1 (day 10) Saturday (Matanzas/Havana)

Late Morning: Depart for Havana

Afternoon: Free Time

Evening: Farewell Dinner and Night Out. There are always cultural events on Saturday night in Havana.

December 2 (day 11) Sunday (Havana)

Morning: Depart from José Martí Airport for Miami

Registration 2001

Afropop Worldwide's Cuban Music & Popular Culture Seminar

Registration Information

The cost of this tour is $3,250 for double-occupancy, including round-trip airfare between Miami and Cuba, accommodations at five-star hotels, English speaking Cuban guide, daily breakfast, most meals, walking tours of Havana's and Santiago's historic architecture and legendary music venues, museum and music venue entrance fees, and Cuba visa. The price for single-occupancy is $3,500 and we ask that you indicate your preference at the time of registration.

A non-refundable deposit fee of 10 % is required at the time of registration. Minimum deposit for single-occupancy is $325; minimum deposit for double-occupancy is $350. Your program deposit must be received by SEPTEMBER 1, 2001. Space is limited and registration is first-come, first-serve, so please send your deposit to the Cuba Research and Analysis Group as soon as possible.

TO REGISTER: Send your deposit (check or money order, please) along with the attached registration slip to the Cuba Research and Analysis Group. CRAG will then send you a detailed application form, which we ask you to fill out at your earliest convenience. Checks should be made out to: Cuba Research and Analysis Group (or) CRAG and sent to: Cuba Research and Analysis Group P.O. Box 6510 Albuquerque, NM 87197-6510

Afropop Worldwide's Cuban Music & Popular Culture Seminar
c/o Cuba Research and Analysis Group

For questions, please contact CRAG: Tel: 505-463-0439 Fax: 505-344-5049

Please register space(s) on Afropop Worldwide's Cuban Music & Popular Culture Seminar, Nov. 22 - Dec. 2, 2001. Enclosed is my non-refundable deposit of $325/$350 per person. I understand that space is limited and that registration is first-come, first-serve, even before the September 1, 2001 deadline.



City, State, Zip:

Home Telephone: Work Telephone:

Fax: E-Mail:

Double Occupancy ($3250) Single Occupancy ($3500)

2000 Letter

Here is a letter from Ned Sublette, founder of Qbadisc, about the Afropop Cultural Study Session in Cuba, February 4-15, 1999:

Dear Colleague:  I don't have to tell you how good Cuban music is. Cuba was always a leader in music, and in Cuba the music has never stopped, not for a moment. Today the island is boiling with music and musicians. And if you want to know about Africa -- go to Cuba, where the cultures of the Yoruba, the Kongo, the Arará, are maintained and practiced.

Cuban music is what I do. I co-run a record label called Qbadisc that specializes in presenting music from Cuba, and for the last nine years I've made it my business to be well-informed about the music of Cuba and the ever-changing conditions in the country. World Music Productions has invited me to come along on with you on a cultural study session of Cuba that I think will be truly educational and inspiring for all   concerned.

Given that U.S. law forbids you to go to Cuba as a tourist, is this legal? Yes! We're not promoting tourism here -- no beach trips, no cigar-buying expeditions. This trip is a serious cultural study, and you have to qualify for it. (There are a number of ways you   could possibly qualify. Contact us and we'll refer you to the appropriate channels.) Knowledge of Spanish is helpful but not mandatory.

We'll start out in Havana, stop in Matanzas province, continue on to Santiago, and work our way back to finish up in Havana again.

The Afropop Worldwide Cultural Study Session in Cuba is a project of World Music Productions, producers of Public Radio International's Afropop Worldwide. We will be hosted by the Institute of Music Research in Havana.

For more information, call 1-888-373-4816. From outside the US, call  773-665-7080. Or you can send an e-mail to Put "Culture study in Cuba" as the subject. More details are also on the web at

I hope you'll join us in Cuba next February.

Ned Sublette

For a catalog of Qbadisc releases, e-mail and put
"catalog request" in the "subject" line. And check out the Qbadisc page on this web site!


Ned Sublette is one of the U.S.'s leading researchers on contemporary Cuban music and has traveled to the island over a dozen times in the last eight years. Ned is also the former Senior Co-Producer for Afropop Worldwide and he still contributes occasional programs in our groundbreaking Cuban Connection series within Afropop Worldwide. Ned knows many musicians from both the leading pop bands and the major Afro-Cuban folkloric music groups as well. Ned's relationships with the artists will open doors for Afropop visitors to Cuba. And his enthusiasm for the music is catching.

Sean Barlow is the founder and President of World Music Productions, a non-profit multi-media education organization dedicated to promoting greater understanding and appreciation of the contemporary musical cutlures of Africa and the African Diaspora. Sean produces Afropop Worldwide which is hosted by Georges Collinet and heard on over 100 Public Radio International stations around the US and on over twenty stations in Africa. He has traveled extensively in Africa and the Caribbean doing research for the program. He edits the Afropop Worldwide web site and co-authored Afropop! An Illustrated Guide to African Music. Along with Georges Collinet and other partners, Sean has created the highly acclaimed Afropop travel series to Africa.

ITNERARY FOR 1999 AFROPOP WORLDWIDE Cultural Study Session in Cuba

Note: Cuba is an unpredictable and complicated place, so this schedule is subject to change. However, here is the preliminary itinerary:


We arrive in Cuba under cover of night and transfer to our hotel. We walk around saying, so *this* is Havana, I'm really here, I'm not just imagining this . . .


Morning orientation followed by architectural tour of the city. Visit to the Callejón de Hamel, a small mural-covered street in Centro Habana known as a gathering place for rumba. Afternoon presentation by Ned Sublette and leading local musicologist from the Institutue of Music Research on the contemporary music history of Cuba.

At night, a visit to La Tropical, a classic open-air dance hall in the barrio of Playa, to study contemporary popular dance rhythms.


Several possible/optional activities include:

--visit to the Museo de Guanabacoa, a museum of Afro-Cuban religion located in Guanabacoa, possibly the best-known barrio for African religious activity
--visit to a radio station
--visit to a religious fiesta
--attendance at a rehearsal by a dance band

At night, we take our pick of one or two of the most popular current Cuban groups.


By bus to Matanzas, possibly the great African city of the New World. A sugar cane port in the nineteenth century, Matanzas today has numerous specialized folkloric groups, most notably Los Muñequitos de Matanzas and Afro-Cuba de Matanzas. We will have demonstrations, explanation and performance of Matanzas's most famous cultural export -- rumba, and we will hear the music of the Yoruba religion -- popularly known as santería. We may visit with Los Muñequitos if their schedule permits.

And a few miles away, in Jovellanos, where the Dahomeyan influence is very strong, we will visit the folkloric group Ojún Degara, founded in 1977 to study and perform arará (Dahomeyan) music and dance.


Cross country on the bus, arriving at or near Santiago de Cuba.


Founded in 1515, Santiago de Cuba in Oriente province has a very different cultural patrimony than Havana. The arrival of numerous French plantation owners and African enslaved peoples during the turmoil in Haiti at the end of the 18th century brought a set of traditions that mingled with the other African and Cuban cultures to form a unique santiagueran culture. Dance forms, musical styles, festivals (such as carnival) and religious practices spread from Santiago throughout the island.

In Santiago we expect to visit: La Casa Del Caribe, a center for historical studies where we will observe the folkloric group Grupo Cocoyé; a Casa-Templo, a permanent exposition of ritual objects of the diverse African-derived religions of Cuba; the Tivoli Barrio, where there will be a rumba and a conga (street dance)
with community participation; the Casa de la Trova, a combination of club house and theater, where local troubadours,  practitioners of traditional trova and son, come to display their art. (Any musician in the group can easily participate); The Carnaval Museum, where we will see the banners and instruments of founders of three social and religious organizations: Carabalí Izuama, Carabalí Olugo and La Tumba Francesa. a local folkloric group will perform the typical dances of Santiago: the tajona, the baile de la chancleta, the merengue haitiano, and the son.


We travel to Guantánamo, a city with a rich Haitian cultural influence not far from Santiago. We will visit the headquarters of the Tumba Francesa society of Santa Catalina de Riceis, founded in 1905.  Tumba Francesa societies display a fascinating mix of European and African cultural influences, with female dancers dressed
in long gowns with lace and shaking in one hand a metal maraca called a "chachá", and men dressed like French courtiers performing intricate steps to a thoroughly African music of voice and drums.

The folkloric group Aché Loas will introduce us to different varieties of Afro-Haitian dance music and ceremonial presentations of Vodú, the mix of Dahomeyan and Kongo elements that came to Cuba from Haiti, and of Gagá (in which dancers utilize machetes, staffs and fire).

We may attend a rumba at La Loma del Chivo, or visit the group Changüí de Guantánamo, the most important exponent of the traditional changüí, a form related to the son which characteristically has a tres (a Cuban guitar with three widely spaced pairs of strings), a marímbula (an bass-register Cuban variant of the African thumb piano), bongó, guayo (gourd scraper) and maracas.


By train, travel back to Havana.


Return to Havana in time for weekend evening concert performance.


Valentine's Day in Cuba--El Dia De Los Enamorados--is a very popular holiday in Cuba and is widely celebrated. Expect music and dancing with one or more of Cuba's best known groups.  (Optional departure date for those who have to be back on Monday.)


Travel home.

Contacting Afropop Worldwide

for their Cuba Study Tour, contact Cuba Research and Analysis Group (CRAG) at the University of New Mexico


505 463-0439

Contacting AfroCubaWeb

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