Creole Cuban Choir brings a fusion of Haitian and Afro-Caribbean beats to the Ordway

The Creole Choir of Cuba. Photo courtesy of the Ordway

The Creole Cuban Choir is on stage at the Ordway (a Knight Arts grantee) for a one-night-only performance this week. The 10-person ensemble also goes by the moniker “the Desandann” (literally, “the descendants”), so named for their dedication to keeping alive the songs passed down in their families for generations. This is music rooted in the West African melodies, beats and lyrics brought to Cuba by the Haitian slaves who, in the early 1800s, were forced by the French to work the colony’s sugar and coffee plantations.

This vocals-and-percussion outfit performs its songs in Creole, the native tongue of Cuba’s substantial Haitian minority – a fusion of African and European languages that, itself, is a testament to the still-knotted linguistic and cultural threads left in the wake of the nation’s checkered colonial history.

Before the Wednesday night performance, audience members will have a chance to learn more about the complex weave of faith, resistance and history inside the music. A pre-show dialogue will bring artists and scholars together for a conversation about “the role of cultural heritage and the respect for ancestral knowledge present within and among immigrant and refugee communities and … the artistic connections between Cuba and its Caribbean neighbors.”

The Creole Cuban Choir will perform at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, October 22 (the pre-show dialogue begins at 6:30 p.m.) at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts, 345 Washington St., St. Paul. For ticket information, visit