Review by Hoo Sook Hwang
AAP staff writer
ST. PAUL (Feb. 19, 2014) — As part of, The Diversity by Design series, five-time Grammy Award nominee, Ms. Maria de Barros, performed at the The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts on February 19th. Ms. de Barros was given an incredible introduction by Ms. Naomi Tu Tu Bishop (daughter of human rights leader, Archbishop Desmond Tu Tu Bishop) right after a local Latin singing group known as, The Havana Hi- Fi primed the audience for an exciting Latin/African/Cuban jam session.
Latin pop, African soul and a Spanish Cuban mix of music filled the theater with upbeat tempos. Songs about love, fun and romance inspired the audience to quickly fill the dance floor. Couples, families and children performed moves from the merengue, two-step and salsa, as well as other Afro-Caribbean dance moves.
Despite the unrelenting freezing cold temperatures outside, Ms. de Barros’ music transported us to warmer geographical climates inside, such as: Cuba, Africa and South America. Born in Senegal, Maria understands oppression and suffering. Brilliantly, she uses her implausible musical talent to uplift people’s spirits and inspire hope.
The make shift dance floor in front of the Ordway stage, quickly filled up with life, smiles, songs and movement. The heart of her music made it nearly impossible to sit quietly. Maria’s Latin and African mix of songs brought an evening of joyful movement to an audience who certainly knew how to interact through dance.
Before Maria enthused the audience with beautiful songs, Ms. Naomi Tu Tu Bishop (guest of Youthprise) inspired us with an introduction of Maria’s brilliant work. Both women commemorated Black History Month with the St. Paul and Minneapolis community with voices of possibility.
Both women of color are passionate writers, human rights activists and global leaders. Intelligent and creative, they have found a salient way to transport messages that communicated a deep passion for education, creative arts and equal rights. Messengers through artistry, Maria captivated the audience through musicianship, while Naomi through the wisdom of spoken word. On February 19th, Ms. Maria de Barros and Ms. Naomi Tu Tu Bishop encouraged the audience to continue bridging culture chasms through a lens of human rights and cultural inclusion.