Alynda Segarra's unamplifed voice in this Tiny Desk performance had no problem rising above the drums, congas, cello, violin, bass, keyboards, and an electric guitar. The passion for her Puerto Rican roots feels boundless. As Soul Captain for Hurray for the Riff Raff, she and her band weave tales of man's inhumanity to fellow humans, often from bigotry, intolerance and ignorance.
But the spirit that arises out of her ancestral roots and its clash with twenty-first century cultural insensitivities inspires the brilliance that is Hurray For The Riff Raff's latest album, The Navigator. This 2017 release and the songs that grace it are at the heart of the fervency Alynda Segarra sings about so animatedly at the Tiny Desk. The song "Pa'lante," one of the most articulate songs of a generation, speaks of being colonized and hypnotized, sterilized and dehumanized, with the refrain, "pa'lante" which translates as "forward." I think of it as "onward." To continue the fight to freedom and respect. As Alynda Segarra preaches:
"To all who lost their pride, I say, Pa'lante!
To all who had to survive, I say, Pa'lante!
To my brothers, and my sisters, I say, Pa'lante!"
Writing songs with a message can often turn out to be well-meaning, but musically less memorable. These songs, however, play as anthems and help do what music can do best – build bridges, unite people and form communities. Hurray for the Riff Raff, indeed!
- "Rican Beach"
- "Nothing's Gonna Change That Girl"
Alynda Segarra (vocals/guitar), Jordan Hyde (guitar), Charlie Ferguson (drums), Sarah Goldstone (keys), Claudia Chopek (violin), Patricia Santos (Cello), Justin Kimmel (bass), Juan-Carlos Chaurand (percussion)
Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Maia Stern, Bronson Arcuri, Alyse Young; Production Assistant: Salvatore Maicki; Photo: Claire Harbage/NPR
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