Associate Editor, Afrodescendientes
The place called the “House” is the Marcus Garvey House in north Minneapolis – home to Insight News, a subsidiary company of McFarlane Media Interests, Inc.
The House is actually named the Marcus Garvey House, after the Jamaican freedom fighter and Pan-Africanist.
“Marcus Garvey believed in making a world that benefits the world. He symbolizes the necessity to organize and fight for freedom,” said Al McFarlane, founder of Insight News. “Honoring the significance and celebration of the rich African-American culture is very important to me.”
Ordway partnership adviser Robin Hickman arranged for the 10-member Creole Choir of Cuba and its tour manager to participate in an interview taping of “Conversations With Al McFarlane” transforming the Marcus Garvey House into an Afrodescendiente museum history center.
What started out as a conversation quickly manifested into something greater than anyone expected … all through the spirit of music. The choir members individually shared their journeys and stories; often times evoking tears throughout the interview conveying the power of their commitment, keeping the stories of the ancestors alive. Through their mesmerizing and haunting harmonies the a cappella tempos of soprano, alto and tenor blended together in an explosion of rhythms transporting the guests to a different time and place with their melodies. “I anticipated a miracle and I got one. The power of the African Diaspora is in harmony today,” said Hickman.
The morning was a poignant one for the McFarlane family, staff, community members and Ordway staff members. Among the guests was Professor Mahmoud El-Kati who said he found himself astounded by the power of the event, adding “In every song they produce the rhythms, the feelings through music, come from mother Africa.”
Patricia Mitchell, President and CEO of the Ordway, moved by the transformation shared her thoughts on what she was witnessing.
“This is World Music,” said Mitchell. “The Ordway chaperoned the idea of celebrating culture with a focus on artists of Cuba. All arts can touch people all the arts together can introduce people back to themselves.”
Dayna Martinez, Ordway artistic director of world music, dance and international children’s festival said it was, “An emotional day for everyone. The music, the harmony the spirit filled me leaving me almost speechless.”
It was also a celebration of Wain McFarlane’s spirit. In honor of the Emmy nominated Creole Choir of Cuba, Wain McFarlane broke out into an impromptu original song he calls “Buenos Dias.” His beautiful silver Doboro Guitar strummed a salsa enriched, Cumbia inspired beat that had the Creole Choir of Cuba joining in with their vocals taking it to another level. The drums, tapping and clapping added to the contagious and spontaneous beat. One by one the guests and everyone in the House joined in this old gospel type celebration.
“I made it up on the spot,” said Wain McFarlane of his house-shaking rendition. Inspired by Spanish music and never knowing why, Wain is quick to point out that his roots, while Jamaican, originated in Cuba. “Wain owes his return to health in part, to the Afro-Cuban All Stars,” said his brother Al McFarlane. “Wain had kidney issues and went into a coma a while back. I brought to his bedside an Afro Cuban All Stars CD, played the music continuously on a CD player right above his head, and. I believe, the Cuban music helped him find his way out of the 10-day coma. When he awoke from his coma he was speaking in Spanish.”
Wain McFarlane said it was the music that brought him back to life. He said the spirit helped keep him alive and drew him deeper into his Cuban roots. Wain McFarlane said he is on a mission now and looks forward to discovering the Latino in him through the music and his Afrodescendiente roots.