The 2016 Lulaworld festival celebrates its 11th consecutive year of providing Toronto area audiences with the best Latin and world music to be heard this side of the Americas. Running for 11 consecutive days (June 1-11) and featuring more than 22 acts and 150+ musicians representing a wide array of music genres, and countries including Cuba, Jamaica, Cameroon, Chile, El Salvador, Argentina, Panama, Mexico, Brazil, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Venezuela, Peru and Italy, this year’s edition promises to be one of the strongest ever.

All of Lulaworld’s live concerts and performances, both free and ticketed, will take place at Toronto’s Latin and world music hot spot Lula Lounge (1585 Dundas St West), and will culminate with a full day of free outdoor programming as part of the community-oriented Dundas West Fest.

Lulaworld will showcase the diverse music’s and cultures that make up Canada and the Americas, and will include a number of original compositions, unique collaborations and rare commissions, mixed in with Toronto, Canadian and world premieres by local and international world, jazz, Latin American, Caribbean, African, blues and urban music artists. Lulaworld has developed a solid reputation for curating artistic exchanges and cultural interactions between Canadian artists and musicians from other countries who are at the forefront of their particular genre.

This year’s lineup is a reflection of the year-round programming at Lula Lounge – weighted towards contemporary salsa – while incorporating a wide range of other music genres, from popular to folkloric. This year’s international guest performers include Cuban timba drummer Roicel Riverón, Brazilian Sambista Junior Teixeira, Brooklyn-based salsa group Ola Fresca and the Venezuelan cuatro and guitar master Aquiles Baez with his full trio. Each of these artists will work with leading Toronto-based musicians to present their work for the first time in Toronto.

This year’s Lulaworld will also feature multiple projects that involve Cuban artists living in Toronto, Vancouver, Miami, Brooklyn and Havana and is expected to lead to an interesting dialogue around how the changes in Cuba-U.S relations might affect the relationship that Cuban expats have to the country of their birth and their own cultural self-understanding. Leading the charge will be Miami-based, Cuban-born and New York-raised singer songwriter Elsten Torres aka Fulano. Torres has been hugely successful as a songwriter, having penned hits for Oscar de León, Julio Iglesias Jr. and Ricky Martin. The two time Grammy-nominee will work closely with the critically-acclaimed Toronto-based vocalist and composer Amanda Martinez to develop a concert repertoire derived from both their individual catalogues with the possibility of new pieces or arrangements resulting from Elsten’s visit to Toronto.

Lulaworld 2016 will complement its typically strong Latin and Caribbean musical line-up by reaching beyond its roots to encourage other regional and cultural cross-pollinations. The opening night kicks off with the launch of the debut CD by Toronto-based bassist Yoser Rodríguez and is followed by two sets of rock, soul and blues fusion delivered by Hamilton’s Laura Cole and the powerful Montreal-based blues singer, guitarist and songwriter Cécile Doo-Kingué.

Canadian artists Los Poetas and Latin Grammy Award nominated Fito Blanko (who’s signed to Billboard chart topper Pitbull’s record label Mr. 305) bring an urban tropical, boom bap element to the festival with their performances on June 2nd. Los Poetas will be launching their Remix CD while Blanko makes a rare Toronto appearance after many months touring and recording in Panama and Europe. Both groups will perform with full bands with special guest DJs rounding out the night.

This year Caribbean and reggae music enthusiasts will be treated to a night to remember as Rebel Vibez – led by artistic director Carrie Mullings – showcases the work of two Juno Award winning reggae artists, Elaine “L’il Bit” Shepherd and Kafinal, who are poised to break into the international urban marketplace.

African, urban and electronic music audiences will take in the Afro-futuristic dancefloor sounds presented by Rap N’ Roll / Dalton Higgins and Supafrik’s Chinedu Ukabam, as Abakos, a buzzy new band featuring two leaders from Montreal’s Afro-electro-pop scene – Juno Award and Polaris Prize nominee Pierre Kwenders and fellow Congolese-Canadian vocalist Ngabonziza Kiroko (Dear Denizen), premiere their first EP, New Constellation for the first time in Toronto which features production by Jamie Lidell and Nashville trio Basecamp (signed to Skrillex’s Owsla record label). Hosted by Chi (SUPAFRIK) and Herve (moonshine), joining Abakos will be The Fader approved electro rap and soul songstress Adria Kain, DJ Ace Dillinger and special guests, The evening is presented in association with African Music Week and kicks off with a dinner hour concert by Afro-Dub-Tryp band, D’BI. & THE 333 whose founders are queen-daughter of dub poetry, d’bi.young anitafrika and Sudanese master musician Waleed Abdulhamid.

For the third year, the festival will culminate in a full day of free outdoor programming as part of the community oriented Dundas West Fest. The festivities begin with the return of the Grand Bateria Express, Canada’s biggest Brazil-inspired drumming and dancing ensemble. Everyone is invited to study the videos for the dance steps, come to a free rehearsal and join the performance. Based on the resounding success of last year, this en masse street performance is expected to attract audiences and participants from Montreal, Kingston, London and Brazil.

The Lulaworld Stage at Dundas West Fest will include performances by several of the international guests including Roicel Riverón and Aquiles Baez. The final concert of the day will feature local Brazilian samba ensemble Batucada Carioca, led by Maninho Costa with a very special guest from Rio de Janeiro, Junior Teixeira of the famous Monobloco group.

For full festival details, schedules and ticket info go to: www.lulaworld.ca

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