Saint-Domingue and Cuba in the Making of New Orleans Music

November 22, 2005 - 6:30 pm

Ned Sublette, Guggenheim Fellow and Award-Winning Author

New Orleans was the first great music town in the United States. Though it was founded by the French, its structure as a city was formalized during its Spanish period – which we could call, if we wanted to be provocative, its Cuban period. Or, for that matter, its Congo period, since that was the African nationality most brought to Louisiana during that time. In turn, both Louisiana and Cuba were profoundly affected by immigration from Saint-Domingue in the aftermath of the Haitian Revolution. Ned Sublette will review the complicated interconnected history of the three places, with an eye toward possible points of crossover that contributed to making New Orleans the great American music city it became.

Ned Sublette was a Tulane Rockefeller Humanities Fellow at the Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University in 2004-2005, and a 2003-2004 Fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. He is the author of Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo (Chicago Review Press, winner of the 2005 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award), and the forthcoming The Year Before the Flood: Music, Murder, and the Legacy of Slavery in New Orleans. He has produced numerous radio documentaries about music and culture for Afropop Worldwide Hip Deep, heard on Public Radio International. A working musician, his most recent CD release is Cowboy Rumba (Palm Pictures). His song “Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly” was recently recorded by Willie Nelson.