Northwestern alumnus performs Afrobeat music with social message


Source: David Glines

Members of Chicago Afrobeat Project pose for a photoshoot in 2015. The group will perform at the Chicago International Movies and Music Festival this Saturday.

Emily Chin, Assistant A&E Editor


David Glines didn’t even know Afrobeat music existed until after he graduated from Northwestern. Four years later, he was playing guitar with Chicago Afrobeat Project, a band created to combine Afrobeat music with elements of Chicago culture.

“After college, I really started to appreciate the horn arrangements and juxtaposition of the rhythm sections,” Glines (Medill ‘98) said. “I like the improvisational elements. I like that it’s hypnotic, and it’s dance music.”

One of the key elements of Afrobeat — a hip-hop, rock and jazz fusion — is that it addresses political and social economic issues, he said.

Glines will perform Saturday night with the group at the Chicago International Movies and Music Festival, an annual festival that focuses on the connection between music and film.

Glines said his music addresses issues related to global warming, environmental abuse, police brutality and racial injustice. He said he appreciates the fact that Afrobeat brings together both dance music, a style he said most people naturally enjoy, and social issues with a deeper meaning.

“It’s dance music with a message,” Glines said. “As we’ve grown as a band, we’ve become more comfortable about performing with a social justice perspective and speaking out about those issues.”

As a genre of music, Afrobeat tends to bring together different types of artists, Glines said. He said oftentimes, Chicago Afrobeat Project will perform with dancers and painters.

“Afrobeat music and dance just go hand in hand,” he said. “The music inspires dancers when we play. It’s part of the band in many ways and part of the overall conversation.”

At CIMMfest, the band’s presence will differ from other groups in that the music will be the foundation of their performance, rather than film, said Dave Moore, executive director of CIMMfest.

Moore described the band’s performance as a “live score dance party.” It will be live-scoring a musical piece over a 20-minute film about the band. The video consists of original footage from filmmakers in Chicago, including elements from the band’s rehearsals, dancers that perform with the band and an artist creating a painting, said videographer Edyta Stepien.

“We’re trying to do more of a cinematic experience,” she said. “We’re trying to use original footage that we shot with the band and the people they work with. It’s not about applying all the effects and graphics to the content.”

The video itself will not be put together fully until the actual performance. In a process called live mixing, Stepien will set up sequences in advance and play them live based on how she feels at the festival.

Glines highlighted the improvisation and the collaboration that will be present during their performance at the festival. This collaboration is very much in the spirit of Afrobeat, he said.

“We’re going to make this live music visual experience in a way that we’ve never performed before,” he said.

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