An internationally known Haitian musical group will be touring the United States from September 18 to October 24, courtesy of a groundbreaking cultural diplomacy initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.
Masters of Haiti’s acoustic twoubadou (troubadour) tradition, Ti-Coca & Wanga-Nègès will bring their lively dance rhythms to Washington before moving on to other cities across America.
David Mettelus, or Ti-Coca (“little coke bottle”), formed the band Wanga-Nègès, whose name refers to a hummingbird that’s a symbol of seduction, in 1976. For more than 30 years the band has showcased both the bitter and sweet sides of life through music that incorporates mereng, Haiti’s cousin to the Dominican meringue, and Konpa-direk, the most popular Haitian dance rhythm of the 1950s to 1980s.
“We’re very Haitian in the rhythm, the words, the feeling,” said Ti-Coca. “It’s dance music you can find in the streets, the beaches, private parties. Lyrics can be critical of society; they often are. But this music is first made to share a moment of pleasure between people.”
The band is touring under the auspices of Center Stage, an initiative of the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Center Stage, administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts in cooperation with the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations, brings performing artists from Haiti, Indonesia and Pakistan to communities across America, engaging U.S. audiences in 60 small and medium-sized towns and cities.