Join us every Thursday in July and August for Summer Thursdays. This year’s musicians combine sonic and lyrical traditions from around the world, tracing the contours of their multicultural backgrounds and transcending traditional ideas of citizenship, nations, and boundaries.

We are featuring artists who embody a borderless musical vocabulary. These are musicians deeply immersed in the defining challenges of the 21st century. With roots in Africa, Asia, South America, North America, and Europe, but currently residing in New York or elsewhere in the United States, each personifies an inclusive attitude filled with heart and soul.

Visitors can access the galleries and enjoy these live music performances in The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, free with Museum admission. Become a MoMA member today and get free admission to all Summer Thursdays…and much more!

Arooj Aftab processes the Sufi tradition through an open-minded approach to sonic matter, reminiscent of jazz improvisation, and a contemporary production that does not shy away from incorporating subtle electronic textures. In her approach, the Lahore-born, Brooklyn-based artist reworks classical Pakistani and North Indian forms such as thumri, khayal, and kafi. With those broad inspirations, she creates a fascinating mix of sounds and cultures. As evidenced in her 2015 debut album, Bird Under Water, the sound, which she terms “neo-Sufi,” mingles the energy and sensibilities of jazz upright-bass tones, inverted chords and modal scales, American acoustic folk guitar, South Asian ancestral vocal melodies, and, not least, Sufi mystic poetry from as long ago as the 13th century.

Easily—if not quite accurately—described as “jarocho punk,” the aural landscape of ¡Aparato! bridges the earthly and the ethereal. The musicians embody the narratives and struggles of the world’s migratory people: Cat (Nancy Méndez) is of Mixtec and Zapotec heritage from indigenous Oaxaca to Anaheim, California. El Tejarocho (Alexandro D. Hernández) was raised in Los Angeles, on the Texas-Mexican border, and in rural Michoacán, México. Rupestre Sánchez (Moises Baqueiro) is a chilango born and raised in the metropolis of Mexico City. Chac 3000 (Carlos Gil) is Salvadoran-Mexican from the highly international migrant city of South Gate, California. Their experiences are re-envisioned via Latinx futurism and the sounds of centuries-old plucked instruments from Mexican son traditions, the requinto jarocho and jarana, along with electric guitars, bass, and the MPC1000 electroacoustic drum hybrid.

Buscabulla is the Spanish-language experimental pop project headed by Raquel Berrios and Luis Del Valle. Born and raised in Puerto Rico but based in New York City, Berrios, a designer, songwriter, DJ, and producer, teamed up with multi-instrumentalist and producer Del Valle in 2011. Dev Hynes of Blood Orange produced their first EP on Kitsuné in 2014, and the second was released in January 2017 on Baby Making Records. The word buscabulla is Puerto Rican slang for “troublemaker” and serves as a clue to the band’s style, an original blend of funk, salsa, R&B, electronica, and pop, with strong elements of wit and sensuality.

The Ghanaian artist Jojo Abot calls her signature sound “Afro-Hypno-Sonic”: an experimental blend of electronica, Afro-beat, jazz, neo-soul, house, and reggae, among others. She investigates new forms of spirituality and expression as part of a growing global conversation around shared space and shared identity, beyond biases of color, race, class, and sexual orientation. Her 2015 debut EP, Fyfya Woto, tells a story in song, a diary of a woman’s right to choose how to live; the narrative emerges from the generational ties that bind the women in the protagonist’s family together. She continues to develop new ways to connect, not only in music, but also through film, photography, literature, and performance art.

The Kominas began in 2005 as self-styled exemplars of Bollywood punk. Their dance-oriented sound is a wild blend of 1977-era hardcore, reggae, Punjabi folk tunes, surf rock, disco, and dub. The musicians, Americans of South Asian heritage, sing in Punjabi, Urdu, and Hindi as well as English. Their lyrics proclaim a bold political awareness, with broad streaks of humor, outrage, and the absurd; the songs are meant to catalyze change in the predominantly white culture while simultaneously fostering a safe and fun space for listeners of color.

Alsarah is a singer, songwriter, and ethnomusicologist, born to human-rights-activist parents in Khartoum, Sudan. The family resettled first in Yemen and, when civil war broke out there, in Massachusetts, where she and her sister Nahid began their musical training. The Nubatones emerged from a common love for the richness of pentatonic sounds in Sudanese and Nubian music and the shared migration experiences of the musicians, who include the Egyptian-American Rami El Aasser, the Togo-born, French-raised bassist Mawuena Kodjovi, and the Midwestern oud player Brandon Terzic. The Brooklyn-based group’s sound soon grew into a style Alsarah dubbed “East African retro-pop.”

Banda Magda, led by Greek-born composer, orchestrator, singer, and accordionist Magda Giannikou, moves from samba to French chanson, from Greek folk tunes to Colombian cumbia and Afro-Peruvian lando. Drawing on the musicians’ global backgrounds (Greece, Argentina, Japan, Colombia, US), the group combines South American rhythms with jazz improvisation, cinematic arrangements, sophisticated audience participation, mid-century classics, and world “chansons” sung in six languages. The band is now putting the finishing touches on its third album, Tigre, which follows Amour, t’es là? (2013) and Yerakina (2014).

Kiran Gandhi, known by her stage name, Madame Gandhi, is an artist and activist based in Los Angeles. She grew up between New York and Bombay, and developed her aptitude for drumming as a teenager. While pursuing mathematics and women’s studies at Georgetown University, she started playing as a drummer with Thievery Corporation and toured with the band to Bonnaroo 2010 and Virgin Mobile Fest. She continues to engage in both activism and music, noting, “My mission is to elevate and celebrate the female voice."

The upbringing of Roberto Carlos Lange—a South Florida native, born to Ecuadoran immigrants—provides essential elements to his songwriting, including the bilingual English-Spanish lyrics. While he cites as influences the electro and Miami-bass he heard on the radio in his youth, the Helado Negro style points to the mesmerizing rhythms, loops, and hair-raising melodies of krautrock. Lange, a multifaceted creator based in Brooklyn with a degree in computer art and animation, has worked in mediums such as video, sculpture, sound, and performance. While Helado Negro may be a one-man band for the digital age, Lange is a constant collaborator who has worked with artists including Sufjan Stevens, Julianna Barwick, Mikael Jorgensen, Guillermo Scott Herren, Mouse on Mars, and sculptor David Ellis. (Don’t be surprised if the Tinsel Animals drop by for the show.)


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