From Africa to the Americas and back: FAMU Concert takes guests on musical journey

The lights are dim. The crowd stands.

Someone is chanting. The lyrics are simple: "I got a reason to feel good."  The sounds fill Florida A&M's Lee Hall Auditorium..
A drummer keeps time.

This girl dances during a performance of African music at Saturday's African-Caribbean Concert at Florida A&M's Lee Hall Auditorium. (D.A. Robin/The Famuan)

Smooth but sharp sounds travels from the stage to the audience and the bass from the guitar rumbles all over the building as the band, Just us in Counterpoint, opens the show.

The audience nods their heads, quiet acceptance of the cultural gifts.

Ladies with red skirts move in circles as they let the tune of the music guide their feet. Dancing without any structure as their body freely let loose.

The emcee warns the audience to be ready for the ride of their lives.

On Saturday, FAMU's annual African-Caribbean concert in Lee Hall auditorium did just that, sent audience members on a ride.

Jan DeCosmo, founder and adviser to Caribbean Student Association, said the concert brings the rhythms and moves of the Caribbean and Africa to the U.S.

“[It] is a way for Caribbean students to showcase their talents through music, dance, and poetry," DeCosmo said. “We started this concert so that local African and Caribbean drummers, dancers and other groups can perform.”

As the performers execute their moves, they tell a cultural story that traverses the Afro-Caribbean diaspora.

Cuba: ¡Azucar! Dance company; likes to dance Casino-style. No choreography, just random dance moves called out by an instructor.

Haiti: Haitian Cultural Club performed a mixture of Haitian racine, kompa, and African roots.

Brazil: Allied Capoeira League; demonstrated how they combine acrobatics, dance, music and combat.

Laura Floyd, executive director of Cultural Arts Alliance, said to she was wowed by the variety delivered at the concert.

"The show had so much energy,” Floyd said. “It was full of history and symbolism, just beautiful.”

Avis Simmonds, member of Rhythm Rushers junkanoo band, said that as she performed, the music left her elated. Junkanoo is a traditional music art from the Bahamas.

“It's a story. The clubs showcase how they feel and how the rhythm moves there body,” Simmonds said. “It's a cultural thing.”