It was too hot in Chicago last night, specially at Millennium Park. People got together to see Malian bluesman Sidi Touré and Chilean rapper Anita Tijoux perform. The show was so reminiscent of the beloved and now gone Music Without Borders series that some people in the audience screamed “We want Music Without Borders!”at some point during the show. Yes, the place was definitely hot. Those of us who endured the high temperatures got rewarded with a big chunk of talent coming from Africa and Latin America. If you were not able to go, do not worry, I have prepared some videos for you.
Here is Sidi Touré giving a great performance of Malian Blues:
And here is “hermanita” (little sis) Anita Tijoux (that is how she called me when we briefly exchange words her after the show…how sweet!), touching hearts with her music and words:
I was able to have a longer conversation with Cristobal, Anita’s guitar player (the conversation was held in Spanish because Cristobal does not speak much English). He talks about Ana Tijoux – the person, the musician, and her message – and why he thinks Chicago is a special city due to its rich cultural activity. He also says that, according to what he has heard, cultural activity in Chicago is not as strong as before.
Talking to some people who came to the show, I encountered some who knew nothing about Ana Tijoux. Dietrich Gray from Pilsen, for instance, never heard about her. However, he was able to connect with her music and message. He noticed the calm and stillness in her presentation, and stated that it is something not common to observe in live performances of other rappers, who tend to be very physical or try to get attention by getting in people’s faces. When he saw her perform he thought to himself “Oh my God, whatever she is saying must be absolutely enough to carry the message she is spreading. She doesn’t need to paint it with body movements or physicality in order to pound it in our heads. Whatever she is saying must be significant.” Others like the activists of #YoSoy132 (a civil movement in Mexico that demands the democratization of media and the rejection of the mediatic imposition of the virtual winner of the Presidental elections of 2012, Enrique Peña Nieto), came to see Anita Tijoux because of her connection with social movements in Chile and abroad. In fact, her song Shock, is dedicated to the Chilean student movement . A new video of the same song has been recently released to support the rights of immigrants in Arizona.
It was definitely a night full of great world music, diversity, and social consciousness. I hope we get to see more of these world music nights at Millennium Park in the future.