Yasser Tejeda in New York City
Dominican alternative singer-songwriter Yasser Tejeda plays a special Uptown Nights show for Harlem Stage, the World Music Institute and Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI). New York Haitian DJ Sabine Blaizin (Oyasound) keeps the room moving with a little Afro-Everything before and after the show at Harlem Stage in Morningside Heights, West Harlem; on Thursday, June 8, 2023 at 8pm. From $20. harlemstage.org 🇩🇴 🇭🇹
May is Caribbean-American Heritage Month and Black Music Appreciation Month. It’s great to see Dominicans and Haitians together because that’s how it should be.
Tejeda is also celebrating the release of his single “En El Naranjo” (in the orange tree) featuring Vicente García. The title may be a poetic way of saying “in love” based on the expression “media naranja” (half orange) which is poetry for your soul mate. Tejeda is definitely in love with life.
Yasser Tejeda Represents the New Dominican Generation
Yasser Tejeda represents the new generation of Dominican artists fusing his island’s diverse folk traditions into jazz and rock. But more importantly he’s not only updating Dominican merengue and bachata, Tejeda is unapologetically playing and dancing Haitian méringue and kompa which some New Yorkers may know as Zouk.
Tejeda’s acceptance of our shared Indigenous and African roots in the Taíno heartland, whether you call it Quisqueya (cradle of life), Ay-tí (land of mountains), or Hispaniola (Spanish island) is special. No need to pretend to be someone you are not anymore because “Tú Ere’ Bonita.” No makeup required.
That’s a big deal because there is a lot of tension in the Dominican Republic between people of Dominican and Haitian descent. We are really one people on one island, but have been divided by the legacy of colonialism, U.S. interventions, and some famously bad dictators. The nonsense is just inexplicable.
Haitian culture is important because the Haitian Revolution spread it around the Caribbean, including to New Orleans where the culture of Congo Square got Americanized into blues, gospel, ragtime, jazz and the American popular music that followed. African Diaspora culture in the Americas has many roots, but one of the taproots is Haitian.
Even merengue, the music which is core to Dominican identity, began as Haitian méringue, a slower, guitar music. It evolved into the fast-paced accordion music known as perico ripiao (ripped parrot) in Santiago de los Caballeros in the Cibao Valley [where we are writing this. Someone even told us it’s from the very neighborhood we are working in.]
The old way of thinking was a culture of separation, but the young way of thinking is multicultural inclusion. Our past was a mess, but the future is better together. We are Black, White, Brown, whatever, and it’s all good. Don’t think too much. Let’s dance!
Watch his song “Tu Ere’ Bonita” (You are beautiful).
We liked the poetry of the video where the woman puts on makeup, but then takes it off. She is beautiful just as she is.
Watch his video “Todo Va a Marchar” (Everything Will Work Out).
This is life in the Dominican Republic, at home, with family, at school, and on the beach. We are a happy people who love to enjoy life.
Tejeda is Mixing Some Fun
Tejeda plays a guitar which is a Spanish instrument, but there’s usually a Dominican tambora drum, and Indigenous guiro, both hallmarks of Dominican culture and identity. He usually includes a dancer on stage which we think is great. And it looks to us like she is dancing Haitian kompa.
Yasser Tejeda’s sound is full of youthful positive energy. You definitely want to go to his concerts because he’s all about feeling good and sharing good vibes. Oh, and wear your dancing shoes.