Hispanic American Library
55 Frank B Murray STREET

Afro Puerto Rican Roots & Rhythms

with William Cepeda

William will share information about the genres and evolution of Puerto Rican music (Taíno music, bomba, plena, música jíbara and danza). He will also talk about and demonstrate some of the instruments, and select rhythms and songs for each genre. In the workshop, participants will play a number of Afro Puerto Rican rhythms. Bring a drum if you have one!

Known as a cultural icon of Puerto Rico and a four-time Grammy nominee and composer, jazz trombonist William Cepeda was born and raised in Loiza, the heart of Puerto Rico’s “Little Africa.” His artistic excellence, authenticity, and advocacy for research and comprehensive documentation of Puerto Rican music, dance and culture have earned him multiple awards, grants, and recognition.

In 1992, he revolutionized Latin music with the introduction of Afro-Rican Jazz, an innovative blend of traditional Puerto Rican roots, folk, dance, progressive jazz, and world music. He is widely credited with innovating and creating the jazz sub-genre: Afro-Rican Jazz. His ensemble has toured the world and performed at such prestigious jazz festivals as Montreux, North Sea, and Tabarka and performing arts venues and clubs.

First Generation Ensemble: Mother Tongue

The First Generation Ensemble of the Springfield based arts organization, The Performance Project, will be sharing excerpts from their new show they will be premiering in Springfield this fall.

The Performance Project envisions a world in which all people strive for personal and social liberation, where all individuals and cultures are honored, embrace interconnectedness, and we all are free to achieve our full potential.

The Performance Project’s First Generation creates opportunities for BIPOC, immigrant, and refugee youth to learn about cultural activism and claim a public voice in their communities and beyond. Members engage in artistic training with professional artists, community building, social justice dialogues, intergenerational mentoring, and leadership development. First Generation members may be the first in their family to grow up in this country, speak English, graduate high school, go to college, be incarcerated, be an activist, be drug-free, be openly LGBTQ+, be a feminist, break a silence, or any other first.

First Generation members form an ensemble and create and tour original multilingual performances that highlight local and global social justice issues inspired by their experiences and the experiences of their families and communities. They facilitate post-show dialogues with audiences, touching upon the themes in their performances such as racism, xenophobia, homophobia, school to prison pipeline, mass incarceration, culture, identity, and the power of youth voice. Ensembles perform in a multitude of settings — from schools and colleges, to community centers and youth programs, theaters, festivals, and social justice conferences.

Ensemble members, Entsar "Star” Abdelrahman, Montaser Abdelrahman, Justice Sostre Garcia, Monisha Gurung, Julita Hasani, Moise Jakobo, Iliana “Lali“ Quiles-Torres, live in Holyoke and Springfield, with families originating from South Sudan, Congo, Nepal, and Puerto Rico.

Explorations in Afro Cuban Music

with Daymé Arocena

Discover the origins of Afro-Cuban rhythms and the far-reaching influence of the island’s musical traditions in today’s musical genres in this workshop led by singer/composer Daymé Arocena. Listen as she demonstrates La Clave – the key, the heartbeat of Afro-Cuban music – and traces how elements of different cultures came together to create a uniquely Cuban sound.

Daymé graduated from the conservatory Amadeo Roldan, specializing in Choir Conducting. Her studies rooted in Western classical traditions were augmented by the rich, folkloric musical traditions of Cuba that she learned at home. Born of a uniquely musical culture, she strives to forge a cohesive musical language from Cuba’s distinct musical dialects from Guantanamo’s fast-paced changüí, to the ever-present guaguancó, ‘70s-style ballada, and Santerían chant. After graduation, Daymé completed her social service working in Pinar del Rio with the Polyphonic Local Choir and students of the vocational art school. Meanwhile, she continued to expand her knowledge of Afro-Cuban music history – focusing especially on women’s contributions to the genre.

 A radiant performer carrying the flame for a new generation of Cuban musicians, Daymé has gone on to release five critically acclaimed albums as a bandleader and has appeared as a featured vocalist on hundreds of stages around the globe. As an ambassador for Cuba’s contemporary music, Santerían chant, and Afro-Cuban tradition, Dayme’s impact upon the unfolding history of Cuban music is unmistakably underway.


with Betsy Casañas & Marángeli Mejía-Rabel

Betsy Z. Casañas and Marángeli Mejía-Rabell come together to talk about their community organizing work and the importance of collaborative efforts in creating thriving communities by activating spaces that preserve culture and show positive representation through music, visual arts exhibits, public art, food, film and more.

Betsy Z. Casañas
Betsy Casañas is a Visual and Public Artist, an educator, a community activist and an organizer. She is the director of A Seed on Diamond Gallery (S.O.D.) and founder of Semilla Arts Initiative. Casañas has 28 years of experience in the arts and has created over 70 murals worldwide. In 2018 Casañas was featured in the Robb Report as one of “5 Women Changing the Face of Street Art Around the Globe”. Her work is known for its use of pattern and color and for the dignified light that she represents humanity in marginalized communities.

Creating safe spaces has been a vital part of her work. As a Latina artist who has been working in communities of color around the world she understands the importance of the people living in these communities to see themselves reflected in the artwork and in the leaders of the places they inhabit. She believes that artists have an obligation to reflect the times we are living in and to highlight the people’s story and change the narrative that has been created for us. By normalizing and humanizing our collective stories we create communities that are more tolerant.

Marángeli Mejía-Rabell
Marángeli’s practice is focused on community media practices, cultural organizing, intersectionality, accessibility and diversity. As Director of the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival and Co Founder/Partner of AFROTAINO she co-curates, designs and executes arts and culture programming, collaborations and multidisciplinary projects. She has served as the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival Director for seven years supporting the groundbreaking work of Latinx filmmakers. Throughout Marángeli’s career, she has centered Latinx creators, stories and culture to bring about positive change and representation. Marángeli also serves as a Leadership Coach with the National Arts Strategies Coaching Collective. She also served as part of the inaugural DOC NYC’s Documentary New Leaders cohort. Marángeli received a 2021 Arts & Business Council for Greater Philadelphia Leadership Award and a 2021 Leeway Foundation's Transformation Award.
222 Worthington StREET

Food Sovereignty Roundtable


We have invited individuals involved in food sovereignty work locally and beyond to come together for a public conversation and informal convening to share their experiences and inspiration. Tara Rodríguez Besosa, Co-Director of El Departamento de la Comida in Puerto Rico, will share about the culture of Boricua food and discuss some current issues facing the Boricua community and how grassroots projects are creating alternatives to grow, distribute, and access local, culturally valuable food. John "J.R." Rivera is the Manager at the Holyoke Farmers Market and a member of the Holyoke Food and Equity Collective, and will share how through this "boots on the ground" work he has been able to create and map out solutions to the food insecurities most Holyoke residents have. Terry Gibson is a Field and Cultural Organizer for Neighbor to Neighbor working out of the Springfield office, and Co-Coordinator of Dwight St. Garden in Holyoke. He will share about his experience organizing volunteers and community partners to co-develop workshops and other community-based projects addressing placemaking, food, and environmental justice struggles. Ibrahim Ali, the writer for "Can You Dig It?", a monthly farm and garden column found in the Point of View Magazine, will facilitate the conversation.

Ibrahim Ali has almost 22 years of youth and farm related work in Western Massachusetts and New York City, including 11 years as the former co-Executive Director of Gardening the Community. He has served on the steering Committee for Pioneer Valley Grows and Springfield's Green Committee. Ibrahim has received intensive agricultural training from Growing Power (Milwaukee, WI), the Masters Gardeners Program of W. Mass, Seed School (Phoenix, AZ) and is a certified Organic Landcare practitioner.

Currently Ibrahim is the writer for Can You Dig It?- a monthly farm and garden column found in the Point of View Magazine, and is a consultant and strategist for Self Evident Media, FatherHood Farms, and others. In 2019 Ibrahim received the 2019 Caring Heart Award presented by the Caring Health Center in Springfield.

Tara Rodriguez Besosa - Tara (she / they / ellx), born and raised mostly in Santurce, the oceans and magic of Puerto Rico. Tara graduated from Pratt Institute School of Architecture in her former life, and since then has for the past decade supported the design of El Departamento de la Comida. Through their unique food hub model, El Departamento de la Comida, one of various food projects in Puerto Rico, shares tools and resources, exchanges seeds, and creates education materials in support of food sovereignty. Tara brings to the conversation in Springfield the following questions: How can Boricuas around the world support local food and farming efforts on the islands? Is there a way to increase awareness (and action) of colonial and extractive measures and how they affect local ecosystems? What is Boricua food to you? Join us in the conversation!

“I am constantly dreaming + weaving a web of consumers, cooks, restaurants, environmental organizations, policy makers, farms, community gardens, artists, medicine makers and elders, that together are decolonizing Borikén and other marginalized communities through food.”

Terry Gibson is a Field and Cultural Organizer for Neighbor to Neighbor working out of the Springfield office, and Co-Coordinator of Dwight St. Garden Holyoke. As an organizer, Terry is tasked with building power in the Springfield area, specifically using the arts as a way to make space, narrate or highlight the issues community members are organizing around. As Co-Coordinator of Dwight St. Garden, Terry assists in organizing volunteers and community partners to co-develop workshops and other community-based projects addressing placemaking, food, and environmental justice struggles. Terry has lived in Holyoke for three years, moving from Pittsburgh, where he volunteered and strongly supported quite a few urban agriculture projects.

John "J.R." Rivera is the Manager at the Holyoke Farmers Market and a member of the Holyoke Food and Equity Collective. Born in Kissimmee, Florida and raised in Penuelas Puerto Rico alongside Holyoke M.A. he was and is able to organize on many fronts in Western M.A. Starting his career in the food industry at the age of 18 in Holyoke J.R. has been able to bring his experiences to build bridges between community and food. He volunteered at the Holyoke Farmers Market in hopes of bringing in more Latinx people to the market. Utilizing his fluency in Spanish and his "boots on the ground" work he has been able to create and map out solutions to the food insecurities most of Holyoke residents have. He also works as a Tenants Union Leader and with other unions to utilize the power the people have as a collective on relating fronts.

Ibrahim Ali

Writer for Can You Dig It? / Consultant

Tara Rodríguez Besosa

Decolonizing Borikén through food

Terry Gibson

Field and Cultural Organizer for Neighbor to Neighbor and Co-Coordinator of Dwight St. Garden Holyoke

John Rivera

Holyoke Farmers Market Manager
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New Location!

The Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival takes place on July 12th – 13th, 2024 in the streets surrounding Stearns Square.

About Us

This festival is produced by Blues To Green, a nonprofit organization that harnesses music and the arts to celebrate community and culture, build shared purpose, and catalyze social and environmental change.
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