Betsayda Machado and La Parranda El Clavo
"If theres a god it sounds like this woman," producer Juan Souki says of the voice of Betsayda Machado. Dubbed The Black Voice of Barlovento, local masters view her as the carrier of a long tradition of nearly extinguished black music genres. After doing some project work with Machado, Souki was enticed to embark on a field trip to discover the source of her powerful pipes, and he describes the 60-minute bus trip to her tiny hometown village of El Clavo as time travel. There he explored and discovered the rich sounds of its African former cacao field-working descendants, capturing songs and beats never before performed or recorded outside the area. This sound is typified by El Clavo's resident band, La Parranda El Clavo. La Parranda El Clavo began as a joyful, unstructured jam group decades ago, and has matured into a virtuoso percussion and voice ensemble. The music's raw percussive nature is reminiscent of other African-rooted music – from countries like Colombia, Cuba and Brazil – but was born of its own unique history and culture. For nearly thirty years they've performed at town festivities, funerals and celebrations, preserving songs which reinforce town history and local anecdotes. Machado began her career singing with them in the late 1980s. Since relocating to Caracas in her early twenties, Machado has become an Afro Venezuelan music icon, but has retained the connection to the music of her roots.
This infectious, percussive music, anchored by Machados thunderous voice, is finally being recorded, documented and shared with the world outside of El Clavo in North America this summer. Say hi to the filmmakers you see following Machado and La Parranda around at the Festival.