Afro-Andean Funk: Album Release, Concert at Soapbox Gallery

The album, THE SACRED LEAF brings visibility to Quechua, the endangered language of Latin America and the language of singer, songwriter. Araceli Poma’s grandparents. Also, it presents themes of social struggle, shamanic rituals and indigenous Peruvian traditions. The title is inspired by the sacred coco leaf of the Andes and pays homage to its many healing powers within the Andean culture.

Afro-Andean Funk will perform at Soapbox Gallery located at 636 Dean Street, in Brooklyn, New York on Friday, July 22 at 8 pm! [this date has been rescheduled and ticket holders from the prior date will be honored for the new show] In person and virtual tickets are here: TICKETS!

Afro-Andean Funk recently released a music video titled, “Agua de Olvido” (Water of Oblivion), a powerful homage to Peruvian shamanism and “magic water,” used for healing in the plains and forests of Peru. The track also features the Haitian singer and producer, Manno Beats.

Backstory 

Araceli Poma met Matt Geraghty in a recording studio in Lima, Peru in 2019 when she was invited to be part of a documentary and album called “The Warrior Women of Afro-Peruvian Music.”

Geraghty traveled to Peru to highlight emerging artists and discover hidden cultural treasures in the Americas. Also, he invited nine distinguished Afro-Peruvian women artists – Araceli Poma, Rosa Guzmán, Charo Goyoneche, Sofía Buitrón, Maricarmen Padilla, Milagros Guerrero, Victoria Villalobos, violinist Maria Elena Pacheco and percussionists Catalina “Cata” Robles and Gisella Giurfa – to be part of the recording and documentary. The serendipitous encounter led to a creative partnership between Geraghty and Poma that resulted in the documentary film Guerreras Puertorriqueñas and the creation of new music. 

Two years later, Geraghty and Poma received a Latin Grammy Nomination and the band, Afro-Andean Funk was born and made its New York debut.

The Sacred Leaf

The nine original tracks on The Sacred Leaf, composed by Geraghty and Poma, reflect the duo’s love for music and various styles and places. Their music mingles a broad spectrum of traditional and modern musical styles such as Afro-pop, Huayno (a popular form of Andean music and dance), electronica, drum and bass, funk, and Cumbia (folkloric music and dance that originated in Colombia) as well as hard rock. Lyrics on the album span different languages such as Spanish, Quechua, Haitian-Creole, and English.

Afro-Andean Funk: The Sacred Leaf
Afro-Andean Funk: The Sacred Leaf – Album Cover Art by Samuel Gutiérrez

Best known for his cross-cultural and inclusive music collaborations, Matt Geraghty wove these styles with Poma’s lyrical approach cohesively in nine eclectic compositions. The songs are driven by his prominent melodic electric bass playing and supporting background vocals.

“I admire the stories, music, and cultures of all the many artists I have been fortunate to work with. We also know that music has the power to spotlight issues that need more attention – especially relating to marginalized peoples and cultures. That is why we have several compositions featuring Quechua in our music. It’s a language that is disappearing, and it’s important to preserve these traditions,” says the Latin Grammy-Nominated producer.

“In addition, we worked closely with the well-known electronica artist Gord from Argentina in the development of key ambient sounds and electric beats as well as the incorporation of live percussion instruments from my Afro-Peruvian traditions such as the checho, the cajita, the donkey jaw bone, and the Peruvian cajon,” says Araceli. “You’ll also hear the Andean stringed instrument known as the charango on several tracks. It has an important role on songs like ‘Luchadora del Ande,’ ‘Me Permito’ and ‘Tanto Tanto.’

Afro-Andean Funk’s album is deeply reflective of its roots and history. Also, the music finds unity through diverse sounds, languages, and stories — a catalyst for demystifying cultural differences and building bridges between musical communities.

Bassist Matt Geraghty produced the album. Matt Geraghty and Araceli Poma composed the music. Electronica arrangements are by Gord.

Track by Track Description and Credits

1 – THE SACRED LEAF (5:45): The coca leaf is a sacred plant of the Andes with healing powers revered for thousands of years in Andean culture. Often chewed while doing agricultural activities, the coca leaf has a vital role in rituals where shamans make sacred requests to the leaf. The lyrics speak to a special prayer to the coca leaf to protect young Andean girls who often grow up in vulnerable situations in rural Peru. Featured is guest vocalist Manno Beats from Haiti.

Araceli Poma (vocals, lyrics), Matt Geraghty (composer, musical director, arranger, vocal direction, bass, piano, vocals), Neal Alger (guitar), Misha Tsiganov (piano, Rhodes, pads, intro arrangement), Good Morel (electrónica arrangement, sampler), Shirazette Tinnin (drums), Manno Beats (vocals and arrangement.

2 – SPIRALS OF VISION (5:10): Inspired when Matt was a child seeing a Great Horned Owl for the first time in the backwoods of his home state Connecticut. ‘Spirals of Vision’ captures the moment and his fascination with the owl’s eyes and intense gaze. The inspiration to write a song about the owl was triggered by a recent discovery of a painting Matt made of this owl when he was nine. The lyrics written by Poma in Spanish describe the moment of being completely enraptured by its beauty and pose – a memory to remain etched in Matt’s memory forever.

Araceli Poma (vocals, lyrics), Matt Geraghty (composer, musical director, arranger, vocal direction, bass, vocals, piano), Neal Alger (guitar), Misha Tsiganov (piano, Rhodes, pads), Good Morel (electrónica arrangement), Shirazette Tinnin (drums), Poetry by Miguel Angel Zapata

3 – AGUA DEL OLVIDO (Water of Oblivion) (4:41): Araceli took part in a shamanic ritual deep in the jungle of Peru where the shaman directed all their healing powers and energy around a basin of rainwater. The shaman channeled the spirit world into the natural world with the rainwater as the receiving entity. They then asked the participants to drink the water as a means to wash away and forget all negative emotions, energy, and old baggage and begin anew. Agua del Olvido (Water of Oblivion) speaks to the power of natural mystic healers to cure us of our ailments. 

Araceli Poma (vocals, lyrics), Matt Geraghty (composer, musical director, vocal direction, arranger, bass), Neal Alger (guitar), Misha Tsiganov (piano, rhodes), Grod Morel (electrónica arrangement, synth), Shirazette Tinnin (drums), Freddy Huevito Lobatón Beltrán (cajita,quijada, cajón,shells), Lilia Arroyo Torres (spoken word), Coco Vega (composer)

4 – LUCHADORA DEL ANDE (Woman Fighter of the Andes) (4:53): Poma continues her work of bringing visibility to the painful stories of women in the Americas with the track “Luchadora del Ande.” Poma composed this piece to give a powerful voice to thousands of indigenous women victims of the Peruvian government between 1996 and 2001, when mass sterilizations were carried out against their will.

We wrote ‘Luchadora del Ande’ inspired by these women who have been fighting for justice for years,” says Poma. This song features’ spoken word’ by one of the victims, Victoria Vigo, who speaks to solidarity with other survivors and raises the voices of these women to let the world know they will not remain silent.

Araceli Poma (vocals, lyrics), Matt Geraghty (composer, musical director, arranger, vocal direction, bass, vocals), Neal Alger (guitar, charango), Misha Tsiganov (piano, Rhodes, pads), Good Morel (electrónica arrangement), Shirazette Tinnin (drums), Freddy Huevito Lobatón Beltrán (checo, seeds), Lara Bello (lyrics)

5 – ESTEREOTIPOS (Stereotypes) (6:08): Araceli invites us to think beyond social stereotypes and conditioning to inspire humanity to realize we have more in common than not. If the pandemic has taught us anything, the human race is connected as one, and our well-being depends on others. There is no room for prejudice. Only by opening our minds and not judging others may we find freedom. Lyrics by Lara Bello.

Araceli Poma (vocals), Matt Geraghty (composer, musical director, arranger, vocal direction, bass, piano, vocals), Neal Alger (guitar), Freddie Gomez (charango), Misha Tsiganov (piano, Rhodes, pads, organ), Good Morel (electrónica arrangement, synth), Shirazette Tinnin (drums), Lara Bello (lyrics, vocal arrangement)

6 – HOJITA DE COCO (Coca Leaf) (4:58): Hojita de Coca brings special guest artist Manno Beats from Haiti and Afro-Andean Funk together to collaborate and pay homage to the power of Pachamama (Mother Earth) and the Coca Leaf. This song traverses Afro-Pop West African grooves and Afro-Peruvian percussion to bring the party to the dance floor. 

Araceli Poma (vocals, lyrics), Matt Geraghty (composer, musical director, arranger, vocal direction, bass, piano, vocals), Neal Alger (guitar), Misha Tsiganov (piano, Rhodes, pads), Good Morel (electrónica arrangement), Shirazette Tinnin (drums), Manno Beats (vocals & arrangement), Freddy Huevito Lobatón Beltrán (Quijada, cajón, bell, vocals)

7 – ME PERMITO (I Give Myself Permission) (4:29): Me Permito is about the importance of taking risks and finding a true creative calling in life by looking deeply within oneself. We are reminded that we have the power to become the person we aspire to be, and we must have faith and patience to follow the heart path.

Araceli Poma (vocals, lyrics), Matt Geraghty (composer, musical director, arranger, vocal direction, bass, piano, vocals), Neal Alger (guitar), Freddie Gomez(charango), Misha Tsiganov (piano, Rhodes, pads, organ), Good Morel (electrónica arrangement), Shirazette Tinnin (drums), Freddy Huevito Lobatón Beltrán (cajón, bell), Lara Bello (lyrics)

8 – ETERNAL THOUGHTS OF YOU (4:42): This song inspires us to look at lost love with new eyes and an open heart. A love that went away can feel like a timeless and eternal love as you come to cherish the memories of that person forever. It is a universal love that lets you feel free from loss by embracing acceptance. 

Araceli Poma (vocals, lyrics), Matt Geraghty (composer, musical director, arranger, vocal direction, bass, piano), Neal Alger (guitar), Freddie Gomez (charango), Misha Tsiganov (piano, rhodes, pads), Grod Morel (electrónica arrangement), Shirazette Tinnin (drums), Freddy Huevito Lobatón Beltrán (cajón, tambor)

9 – ME TIENES ESTA NOCHE (3:39): This is a cumbia is about a woman who tells a guy, “We are going to be together tonight, but I don’t want anything serious, ok?!” It’s ironic because, in Latin culture, women have been portrayed as the ones who dream of getting married and wanting relationships. ‘You Have Me Tonight’ flips the gender roles showing it’s perfectly acceptable for the woman to say, “I just want one night and have a good time.” 

Araceli Poma (vocals, lyrics), Matt Geraghty (composer, musical director, arranger, vocal direction, bass, piano), Neal Alger (guitar), Misha Tsiganov (piano, Rhodes, pads), Good Morel (organ synth, electrónica arrangement), Shirazette Tinnin (drums), Freddy Huevito Lobatón Beltrán (bell, guiro, Tambor).

Source: Sue Auclair Promotions

Tomás Peña
Tomás Peña
A graduate of Empire State College with a dual major in journalism and Latin American studies, Tomas Peña has spent years applying his knowledge and writing skills to the promotion of great musicians. A specialist in the crossroads between jazz and Latin music, Peña has written extensively on the subject.

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