“When you get thousands of people watching live music, it’s going to be a party.”
Carla Leininger knows this well. As founder of Global Beats Pittsburgh, she has DJ’d world dance music at parties, clubs, and on the radio (WRCT) since 1999. She recently received a Brazilian International Press Award for promoting Brazilian culture abroad.
This year she was awarded a grant from Vibrant Pittsburgh to organize World Music Day on Friday, June 14th. “I’m happy to present a Global Beats event in a public space that allows everybody to experience it,” says Carla.
“I hope this becomes a tradition. This is a legacy that I’m proud of. I think it’s important to present these types of music in the heart of the city.”
As part of World Music Day, Colombian singer Jontre will make his Pittsburgh debut. Jontre mixes Afro-Caribbean and Latin elements into his club style.
When asked how she decided on a Colombian artist, Carla replies, “the music of Colombia is very rich and joyful. And they’re crazy about dancing. This is my way to reciprocate the love I get from the Colombian community. Plus Jontre’s manager is a native Pittsburgher!”
Another artist performing is Red Baraat, a Brooklyn-based outfit led by percussionist Sunny Jain. In 2002, Sunny Jain was designated a ‘jazz ambassador’ by the Department of State, putting him on the same cultural diplomacy footing as Dave Brubeck and Louis Armstrong.
After putting out several jazz albums, Sunny explored another type of music—bhangra. “There is something inherently celebratory about bhangra that gets a crowd moving and dancing,” says DJ Pandemic Pete, who is performing a DJ set on World Music Day. “Whenever I drop a bhangra track, everyone throws their hands in the air and cheers.”
“I saw Red Baraat in 2010,” says Carla. “They’re very dynamic.” Red Baraat fuses Indian bhangra with jazz, go-go, and brass funk. And this fusion of styles could be what makes Red Baraat so appealing. “When you have fusion music, it’s easier to resonate with more people.”
Also, local troupe Lungs Face Feet is adding their cumbia-based fusion style to the day’s festivities. “I really like the way they combine a multitude of rhythmic and musical styles into something that sounds familiar, but yet is completely original.” says DJ Pandemic Pete.
And as for DJ Pandemic Pete’s set? “I’ll probably stick with my schizophrenic style of mashing bhangra, balkan, cumbia, gypsy and afrobeat all together.”