Welcome to the blog for Project Live Unchained, a multi-media anthology created for and by black women across the African Diaspora. Here you can learn more about the women and supporters of Live Unchained as well as issues, events, opportunities and people we think you'll find interesting. Please visit www.liveunchained.com to learn more.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Flamenco and African Rhythms, Jazz, Rock and Gospel: For Astrid Jones it's all in the mix

I came across the photo to the right while playing around on MySpace. When I visited her page and put a voice to the face, I knew I had to contact her. Initially, I just wanted to say hello and that I liked her songs. However, I also wanted to share it with others who I knew could appreciate it. When I told her about Live Unchained she was eager to contribute to the anthology. Writing back and forth, we said that if we ever had the chance to meet in Spain, we would connect. We both followed through and I am so happy that the supporters of Live Unchained will get to know her voice. If you like fusions, especially with African roots, as band member Alex Ikot says, Astrid Jones Ndjoli is a musician you should know. After meeting Astrid in person, I think this photo reflects her well. Her smile is big and sincere, she is as confident as she is humble, and really is that beautiful in person.

Astrid writes and sings for a group that combines soul, jazz, rock, flamenco and African rhythms. Although Astrid, Nacho and Alex have been together for over three years, they are not rushing to decide on a name for the band. For now, you can look them up online as just that: Astrid, Nacho and Alex Ikot.

In this performance for Repertorio on Solidaria TV Astrid, Nacho and Alex Ikot share original songs, covers and jazz standards. I had never heard The Police's "Roxanne" and Barry White's "Never Never Gonna Give You Up," interpreted with both Flamenco percussion and skat. I loved it! They truly have a special and distinct sound. The group gives concerts about twice every month. If you are in Madrid, you should visit their MySpace page to see when they'll be performing.

Astrid also sings with a gospel choir in Madrid called Gospel Factory. I heard them sing and felt like I was at a Sunday morning service in Chicago.

Although music is such an important part of her life, Astrid says: "If I say I want to be a singer and that's it...It's not enough." Astrid's parents came to Madrid from Equatorial Guinea over thirty five years ago. Although she was born and raised in Spain, people, including the police, often assume that Astrid is an immigrant. "I go to work and a police man asks me for my identity card...it's a very common thing." Such experiences, in addition to the relationships she has with other people of African descent here, have made her conscious and concerned about the situation facing the black population.

To Live Unchained, Astrid is contributing "Mujeres" and "Life Happens Everyday," which you can hear on her MySpace page. You'll be able to hear her songs and contributions from other women on our website at www.liveunchained.com soon.

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