Pianist, composer, and educator Arturo O’Farrill has partnered with UNICEF to release a new music video for “Line in the Sand,” the concluding track from Fandango at the Wall, his expansive double album released Sept. 28 via Resilience Music Alliance. The record features more than 60 guests, including O’Farrill’s Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, violinist Regina Carter, Iraqi-American oud player Rahim AlHaj, and Broadway star Mandy Gonzalez (Hamilton), who sings on “Line in the Sand.” Watch the video below.
To record the album, the musicians convened near the Mexican border, inspired by Jorge Francisco Castillo, who has for the past decade organized the annual Fandango Fronterizo Festival, which gathers son jarocho musicians between Tijuana and San Diego for a moment of cross-border musical harmony. Castillo’s son jarocho musicians were also featured on the album.
“I found that idea so touching and elegant in its activism,” O’Farrill says of Castillo’s festival in a press release for the music video. “I held it inside my soul and spoke to everyone I could about my hope to join the Fandango Fronterizo and record at the border, bringing special guests and making it a true collaboration.”
The album was produced by the Grammy Award-winning Kabir Sehgal, who has long collaborated with O’Farrill. “It falls upon private citizens and individuals to promote cross-border friendship and rapprochement,” Sehgal writes in the album’s liner notes. “And that is ultimately the goal of Fandango at the Wall: to bring the people of the United States and Mexico together through music. After all, we don’t just share a border but families and friends, histories and futures. Our countries are interconnected, and our fates are interlinked.”
“Thinking about this awful, awful moment in history—not just American history but world history—I wanted to confront the darkness that has overcome all our lives,” O’Farrill says in the release. “Faced with such stupidity and mediocrity, why not at least try to do something valuable? My first thought was to bring not just great artists but also people from marginalized nations. We understand that humanity and community are so much stronger than cultural constructs, physical walls, or geopolitical borders. We saw this in action: we saw our people fall in love with their people and become one people.”
It has been a big year for O’Farrill. It was recently announced that he will serve as the 2019 artist-in-residence for the Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, the live event space and broadcast studio of the New York public radio stations WNYC and WQXR. As part of the residency, O’Farrill will present a series of performances from January through April dubbed “Radical Acts & Musical Deviancy.”
“Arturo’s expansive musical vision is not only dynamic and compelling, but it also serves to build bridges—between musical styles and genres and also between artists and audiences,” says Christina McInerney, CEO of the Jerome L. Greene Foundation, in a release. “His music has an almost uncontainable spirit.”