Etienne Charles is a performer, composer, and storyteller who is continuously searching for untold stories and sounds with which to tell them. His lush trumpet tone, varied compositional textures, and pulsating percussive grooves enable him to invoke trance, soothing and exciting listeners while referencing touchy and sometimes controversial subjects in his music. A 2015 Guggenheim Fellow and 2022 Creative Capital Awardee, he researches his compositions by travelling to the regions on which he is focused, meeting with musicians and cultural leaders, then observing and participating in rituals to be fully immersed into the cultures that he is studying. As an Afro-descendant, his work is actively connecting the diaspora and drawing lines to regions at the roots of migrations. Highlighting marginalized communities and engaging with them has been his mission, evident with projects such as Carnival: The Sound of a People Vol. 1, San Jose Suite, Creole Soul, and Folklore. His concerts engage, enlighten, educate, and enrich audiences with energized multidisciplinary performance utilizing original composition, thematic improvisation, dance, short films, and spoken word to create a holistic experience. A firm believer in music and performance as a tool for provoking thought and dialogue, Charles’s themes speak to the status quo while drawing parallels to history. With his latest commissioned project, San Juan Hill, he goes a step further by exploring the storied New York neighborhood to bring the culture of San Juan Hill to the mainstage.
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