A blast like, The Big Bang, was the resulted combination of DJ Adam Gibbons, DJ Max Pela, VJ Jay Medina and Percussionist Sidy Maiga. UHURU AFRIKA was birthed and its guiding light has beamed in Cambridge, and now Jamaica Plain, for 7 years and glowing. But wait!! It’s not just Us that dance in the light, UHURU AFRIKA has brought people together in New York, Mexico, Chicago, and The Burning Man Festival, to name a few points on our Earth moved by The Diasporic Dancefloor Explosion.
Debuting in 2008 and since hosting an incredible program of talented and passionate singers, DJs and producers, UHURU AFRIKA is dedicated to honoring the Drum. They note their mission “is to bridge ancient traditional African music … and the electronic dancefloor sounds of today.” You got that right.
UHURU AFRIKA is a study in afro-rooted House. Every guest who has graced our city by way of UHURU AFRIKA should be considered a scholar in schooling dancefloors. Alongside sole resident Adam Gibbons with Sidy Maiga, the combination of collected and treasured music, hand on the drum, feet on the floor, love, sweat and song continues to keep UHURU AFRIKA strong, fresh, full of impact and our city’s devotion.
Creator and Resident Adam Gibbons speaks at The Underground Garden about his musical journey and Uhuru Afrika’s legacy.
What have been your inspirations for music before you became a DJ?
At an early age, I had a feeling that Music should be revered in a very special way, that it was powerful and magical. My parents always had soul, funk and gospel records in our living room next to the hi-fi, so of course that influence was there. They were also fans of Jazz music, their first date being at the legendary Jazz Workshop in Boston’s Copley Square. I feel this was more prominent on my mother’s side of the family. She came from a very hip and artsy, bohemian tribe. Even when my grandmother re-married, her husband (my now step grandfather) was at one point a jazz promoter in Boston. He booked everyone from Artie Shaw to John Coltrane I was recently gifted a photo of he and Wes Montgomery shooting the breeze in his living room. I think I was around 11 or 12 years old when I really started to appreciate Jazz music (Which eventually led me to traditional African music and Afrobeat), partly by the influence of a gentlemen I lived above who used to share music with me. It turned out that he worked for Miles Davis. Around this time, Michael Jackson’s album Thriller was released which totally blew my mind. I was also listening to Boston’s WILD radio and was introduced to classics like “Friends” by Whodini, “Rumors” by Timex Social Club. So you could say that I was always surrounded by music and musical influence.
From these inspirations, do you remember the moment you decided you wanted to DJ?
I remember fantasizing of being a radio DJ when I was young. My uncle was a radio DJ in California and I ended up with a crate of records that were handed down to me with artists like Anthony and The Camp and Colonel Abrams. I was like “He gets paid to play these on the radio?!?!?!” I thought that it was so cool that people make a living at that job, to curate and play music for others. It was not until the 7th grade that I started to go to a Roller Rink in Kenmore Square where Jillian’s Billiards is now, that I was fascinated by the DJ spinning live in front of people. I thought that is something I would love to do. Years later, I have memories of going to venues like The Loft, Visions, Mind’s Eye Cafe, Venus de Milo in Boston and the Tunnel and Limelight in NYC and that really solidified my desire to be a club DJ. I started out spinning backyard BBQs and loft parties in High School and eventually worked my way to my first residency at Venue de Milo club on Boston’s Landsdowne Street. I originally started spinning Hip-Hop, Reggae and RnB and Disco Classics before transitioning to Acid Jazz and House Music in the 90’s. I currently am focusing on the Afro-diasporic dance floor sound playing everything from Afrobeat to Kuduro to AfroHouse.
In your words, UHURU AFRIKA.
My vision for Uhuru Afrika is to celebrate and spread the vibrant culture rooted in the continent of Africa, and all of its branches that have stretched far by means of the Diaspora. The aim is to foster a community movement under the umbrella of music and the arts. Uhuru Afrika is not just about dancing, performance, music and drinks. Rather, we want to create a communal experience – people coming together, using music as a mode of fellowship and release. Though this environment is rooted in Africa-diasporic tradition, this event is geared towards an eclectic crowd with all ethnicities, religious, cultural and social backgrounds. This is about creating a positive, worldly, uplifting atmosphere.
Uhuru Afrika returns to the Milky Way in Jamaica Plain on Friday May 29th with special guest DJ Zepherin Saint of Tribe Records from London. On Monday June 8th we will open for the legendary Nigerian artist Femi Kuti and his band Positive Force at the Paradise Club in Boston.
For Everything UHURU AFRIKA, enjoy this link and the others below. Find Yourself on Friday, May 29th at the Milky Way with Uhuru Afrika’s special gathering featuring DJ Zepherin Saint!
Uhuru Afrika’s Facebook page.
Uhuru Afrika’s Soundcloud page.
Uhuru Afrika’s Twitter handle.
Soundcloud – www.soundcloud.com/uhuruafrika
Liza Zayas is a lover of writing and dancing and celebrates both as a singer and songwriter performing as Luna del Flor. You can hear her collaborative sounds and experience life through her storytelling. She invites you to dance. Her poetry seeks to initiate dialogue by intentionally expressing consequences of love, lust, ego and self-respect.