Afro-Venezuelan singer Betsayda Machado, performing at globalFEST in New York City in January. Kevin Yatarola/Courtesy of globalFEST hide caption

toggle caption
Kevin Yatarola/Courtesy of globalFEST

Afro-Venezuelan singer Betsayda Machado, performing at globalFEST in New York City in January.

Kevin Yatarola/Courtesy of globalFEST

globalFEST

Betsayda Machado y Parranda El Clavo, Live In Concert

Betsayda Machado y Parranda El Clavo, Live In Concert

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/514304070/514339602" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

One of the most joyful shows I've heard in years came courtesy of the clarion-voiced Afro-Venezuelan singer Betsayda Machado and her group La Parranda El Clavo, who made their New York City debut at the annual globalFEST festival in January.

They root their often politically pointed lyrics with the sounds of their heritage — including intricate African polyrhythms and percussion, as well as call-and-response singing — occasionally mixed with close harmonies that evoke an almost-R&B feel.

Though she has been based in the capital city of Caracas for many years, Machado comes from a small village of 1,500 people called El Clavo, located near Venezuela's Caribbean coastline. Like Machado and her bandmates, the town's inhabitants are mostly Afro-Venezuelans, the descendants of slaves who had worked on the area's cacao plantations.

For generations, they've been able to hold onto certain elements of their African and uniquely Afro-Venezuelan heritage, especially in their music-making. And the music of this band, La Parranda El Clavo, has helped keep their community strong and proud of their traditions. The group has been playing together for nearly three decades, primarily at town festivals, holidays and funerals. But it's only now that they've begun touring North America — and making their singular, passionate and purposeful voices reverberate in the wider world.

[+] read more[-] less

More From World

Ziggy Marley performs live for KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic. Dustin Downing/KCRW hide caption

toggle caption Dustin Downing/KCRW

Favorite Sessions

Ziggy Marley, 'Start It Up' (Live)

KCRW

In KCRW's studio, the reggae musician performs a hopeful, political song from his newest album.

Tinariwen performs live at Pickathon. Alicia J Rose/opbmusic.org hide caption

toggle caption Alicia J Rose/opbmusic.org

Favorite Sessions

Tinariwen, 'Tin Ihlan' (Live)

opbmusic.org

Watch the groundbreaking Tuareg band perform a nighttime set in the Oregon woods.

Rodrigo Amarante performs live at Pickathon for OPB. Kristina Moravec/OPB hide caption

toggle caption Kristina Moravec/OPB

Favorite Sessions

Rodrigo Amarante, 'Maná' (Live)

opbmusic.org

The Brazilian singer performs an upbeat song on a stage made of branches at Pickathon in Oregon.

Tiny Desk Concert with Sam Lee Lydia Thompson /NPR hide caption

toggle caption Lydia Thompson /NPR

Tiny Desk

Sam Lee

The singer found his voice by finding and preserving old British, Irish and Scottish folk songs.

Back To Top