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Fantastic Negrito Brings a Special Blend of Sonic Sounds to Highmark Blues & Heritage Festival

Tickets, starting at $30, are on sale now!

Fantastic Negrito Brings a Special Blend of Sonic Sounds to Highmark Blues & Heritage Festival

A conceptualist like Frank Zappa, a mixologist like George Clinton, and an experimenter like Sun Ra, the Massachusetts-born, 54-year-old, Somali-American singer-songwriter named Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz, AKA Fantastic Negrito, concocted his own blues-based, psychedelic sonic stew. Inspired by his growing up on the mean streets of Oakland, CA, Negrito's music is a surreal, twilight-zonish, cosmic blend of sounds with ancient roots and hints of the future.

Explaining his modus operandi in an interview on Atwoodmagazine.com, Negrito takes inspiration from the philosophical, rather than the technical aspect of music. "A musician may want to take all these chords and notes and make a song," he says. "Whereas an artist might want to take two chords and make you feel something extremely passionate. That's what initially attracted me to Black roots music. You had to be an artist back in those days. People on chain gangs ... if you listen to that work music, you had to be an artist. They didn't have all of that musical training, but they had feelings. To be able to sustain so many negative experiences, and turn all of that into something positive, that's spiritual healing."

Part of his success is knowing where Xavier ends and Negrito begins. "Oh, you got to be able to turn that stuff off, so you don't end up on pills and drugs," he says. "That's why I stay right here in Oakland, California. I make all my albums in this tiny room. It's not really a professional studio, but it's a really amazing art gallery. A place where a different mind can come and make some incredible music. I've made all of my albums here. And honestly, I've been doing social commentary since the first Fantastic Negrito album.

Negrito's first three recordings The Last Days of Oakland, Please Don't be Dead and Have You Lost Your Mind Yet, all won Grammy Awards for Best Contemporary Blues Album in 2017, 2019 and 2021. When Fantastic Negrito takes the Highmark stage, he'll be performing selections from his latest CD and short film, White Jesus Black Problems. With his forward-thinking artistry, you see the past and the future come together in the present.

Tickets, starting at $30, are on sale now at https://blues.awaacc.org. Individual day passes as well as two-day passes are also available. For additional details and the complete festival line-up, please visit https://blues.awaacc.org.


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