Ken Schweitzer, a music professor at a Washington College, has spent almost two decades studying the Afro-Cuban Musical Culture. Initially drawn to Cuba in 1999 to experience first-hand its unparalleled and vibrant music scene, Schweitzer returns annually to continue learning more about the unique musical, cultural, and political landscape of this Caribbean island nation. Dr. Schweitzer has expertise as both a drummer and an ethnomusicologist. His 2013 book, The Artistry of Afro-Cuban Batá: Aesthetics, Transmission, Bonding and Creativity, examines the complex world of Santeria Ritual Song. He has numerous other publications and has appeared as a guest on the NPR program Hip Deep: Afro Pop Worldwide for an episode entitled “Ancient Text Messages: Batá Drums in a Changing World.” Ken has spent over a decade creating educational adventures in Cuba for diverse groups.
Dr. Aaron Lampman is a professor of Anthropology at Washington College. Dr. Lampman has conducted nineteen years of anthropological research in Latin America extending from Mexico to Peru. In addition to leading short-term student seminars to Panama, the American Southwest, Peru and Tanzania, he has co-led student and adult trips to Cuba 6 times. With a strong grasp of Cuban history, he provides insight into the food and agriculture of the island and expertise on the impact of globalization on Cuba culture.
Ernesto “El Gato” Gatell
Ernesto “Gato” Gatell is one of the most recognized and beloved Cuban singers alive today. In 2013, the U.S. Government acknowledged him as a Musician of Extraordinary Ability at the very top of his field both nationally and internationally, thus allowing him to immigrate to the U.S. in 2014. His list of accomplishments over the past 30 years are far too vast to enumerate, but he has recorded and toured with the biggest names in Afro-Cuban music – Clave y Guaguanco, Tata Guines, Changuito, Pancho Quinto, Rumberos de Cuba, Conjunto Folklorico Nacional de Cuba, Puntilla, Hilario Duran, Jane Bunnett; and has been a member of several Cuban All-Star groups. His recordings have been nominated for and/or won the top music industry awards in three countries – the U.S. Grammy, the Canadian Juno, and the Cuban CubaDisco. Having mastered Afro-Cuban music, his current vision is to combine Afro-Cuban elements with other styles like Jazz, Funk, and World to create contemporary fusions. He also composes and plays percussion.