Bloodline Rumba Photos

Bloodline Rumba, my new play, had a great premiere on its opening night (2/3/16) at the University of Louisville’s (UofL) Thrust Theatre. It is presented by the African American Theatre Program of the UofL Theatre Arts Department, and directed by the phenomenal Nefertiti Burton.

Sidney Edwards—who plays Sara Santos, a young Afro-Cuban woman seeking to attend medical school in NYC—is seen in the photo below. Her fellow cast members are: Shaleen Cholera (Ernesto), Paula G. Lockhart (Abuela), Casey Moulton (Dr. Ramos), Ross Shenkar (Senor Prado), and Danielle Smart (Lola).

The play runs until Monday (2/8/16). For performance times and ticket information, please click here.

To see more photos from the show, please click here. And here for photos by Aukram Burton.

To learn more about the production, check out this story in the Louisville Cardinal student newspaper.

Bloodline Sara


Bloodline Rumba, a new play by John Chenault

My new play, Bloodline Rumba, is premiering 8 pm Wednesday, February 3, at the University of Louisville (UofL). It is being produced by the African American Theatre Program of the UofL Theatre Arts Department, and directed by the brilliant Nefertiti Burton.

For more information, check out this story in the Louisville Courier-Journal.

bloodline-rumba_final copy

Under The Radar – A Survey of Afro-Cuban Music

“Under the Radar – A Survey of Afro-Cuban Music” is a documentary that introduces viewers to the distinct music of Cuba, examining the enigmatic island’s music scene as it was in 2001. The film documents the travels and recordings of its producer/director, jazz saxophonist, J. Plunky Branch, and executive producer, Alvin Skipper Bailey, and highlights their musical interactions and collaborations of Afro-Cuban rumba, son, salsa, timba, rock, changui and hip-hop musicians and rappers.

Branch and Bailey, both African-Americans, traveled under the auspices of a number of US universities, and in collaboration with the humanitarian organization, Pastors For Peace, to carry out this project. They toured the cities of Havana, Guantanamo and Santiago de Cuba, to research and record a wide range of musicians. The results of their work is being disseminated through this 85 minute educational film and a series of three compilation music CD’s.

For more than 50 years the United States has maintained an economic blockade against the Island of Cuba, restricting travel, investment and cultural exchange between Americans and their Caribbean neighbors just 90 miles south of Florida. Afro-Cuban music has inarguably been recognized as some of the most vibrant and influential rhythmic music in the world.

Thanks to Sister Januwa Moja for the link …

Rest in Power Brother Eugene Godfried!

Januwa Havana 2014

Januwa Havana says it all …

Movement … color … music from other worlds … ancient future designs … wearable art … In Casa de Africa  … it’s the Afrofuture, baby  … the models don’t walk the runway … they travel it from planet to planet …

This show is Cosmilicious!

This Tribute to Sun Ra took place in Casa de Africa in Havana, Cuba on July 31st, 2014.


See also these still photos from the show shot by Elio Delgado Valdes.


‘Smaddification’, Affirmation and Caribbeanity: Norman Girvan

Norman GirvanNorman Girvan is Professor Emeritus of the University of the West Indies. Until recently he was Professorial Research Fellow at the UWI Graduate Institute of International Relations. The link below connects to a transcript of an interview conducted with Girvan during the Havana Book Fair in February 2012. The full transcript is downloadable from his website as a PDF in English or Spanish.

Girvan’s interview reminds us of the centrality of Caribbean history to North and South America. Part of my mission with this blog is to remind my sisters and brothers in North America that our history constitutes a small part of the experiences of Afro-descendants in the Western Hemisphere. Many of us have grown up within an African American-centric view of the “black” experience that is false in its sense of totality and significance. For example, how many us of know that more enslaved Africans were shipped to Cuba and Jamaica than to the United States during the transatlantic slave trade? How many of us recognize the Caribbean also served as a half-way point for many enslaved Africans who eventually wound up in North America? How many of us realize many of the greatest “black” leaders in U.S. history have Caribbean roots?

A key point addressed by Girvan in the interview is the outsized influence of the Caribbean in world history. The impacts of both the Haitian and Cuban Revolutions furnish salient examples, but such influences are ongoing globally in literature, music, and sports. He also discusses the emergence of Caribbean identity in all its complexities as a process of struggle and resistance against slavery, colonialism, and neocolonialism. His remarks illuminate the work we must do to excavate and explicate this history and build bridges that reconnect us through our common experiences in the African Diaspora.

(Extract) What unites us is a common frame of reference of our historical experience. But what also unites us, in a context of diversity, has been the affirmation of what my old friend and colleague Rex Nettleford called “smaddification”…All the labor that was brought here was brought here in a condition of exploitation of one way or another and the process of creating a Caribbean identity out of those conditions is a process of resistance, of struggle and of affirmation of self, of the dignity of the human person and of the right to autonomy of our societies…

‘Smaddification’, Affirmation and Caribbeanity: The Caribbean That Unites Us, Norman Girvan: Norman Girvan.

Girvan’s writings and analysis of Caribbean political economy can be found on his website: