The third annual Sankofa “Lineage of Soul” concert took place Saturday in FAMU’s Lee Hall Auditorium. The event was hosted by the Tallahassee-St. Maarten Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to Tallahassee’s sister city, St. Maarten, to showcase the culture, music and food of the Black diaspora.
The concept of Sankofa is historically important within the Black diaspora due to its meaning of reaching back to the knowledge of the past and bringing it forward to progress. The concept was thoroughly represented throughout the concert by honoring the history of Black music and artistry.
Local artists, including the FAMU jazz faculty, opened the concert by paying tribute to African American soul classics. Keith Rogers started with Nina Simone’s “Are you Ready,” and “Caledonia,” by Louis Jordan to a hand drum beat in the background. Deanna “Squeaky” Miller continued with “Get Happy” by Ella Fitzgerald.
A tribute was paid to Ray Charles by Alex Williams, singing his famous songs, along with the well-known “I Got a Woman,” which was mixed with Kanye West’s “Gold Digger,” alluding to the Sankofa theme.
Jesse McFarland, the first keyboardist for famed R&B group The Manhattans, told the story of his musical career and played “Shining Star” and “Kiss & Say Goodbye,” favorites from The Manhattans.
After the intermission, the concert shifted to African and Caribbean performances. Shandra Brooks of the Ayoka Dance Company performed a traditional Weedifoli dance celebrating the African roots of the Caribbean culture. The Haitian Culture Club joined in with the traditional Kompa and Zouk dances.
Clara Reyes, the head of St. Maarten’s Department of Culture, danced and sang multiple songs honoring her homeland of St. Maarten and other Caribbean islands, intertwining stories of the lands throughout the music and encouraging audience members to sing and dance along with her in celebration.
Sir Isadore York, aka ‘”ighty Dow,” performed various genres of music, including R&B, salsa and bachata, on his steel pans. He performed his worldwide hit dedicated to his homeland, “St. Maarten Rhumba,” also known in Latin countries as “Baila Mi Rumba.” He finished with a lively performance of “Hot Hot Hot,” starting a conga line and bringing audience members on stage.
The “Lineage of Soul” concert celebrated the history and culture of the Black diaspora through song, dance and spoken word. The audience was fully immersed in the story of Black music from past to present, with the concept of Sankofa at the forefront.