AfriCaribe was founded in 2000 by community leader, artist, and teacher Evaristo “Tito” Rodriguez (1961 – ). Rodriguez has worked diligently to preserve and promote Puerto Rican traditions, particularly those rooted in the intersection of the African slaves, native Taino, and Spanish colonials who populated the island. He and the AfriCaribe ensemble offer classes, workshops, residencies, lectures, and performances to schools, museums, cultural centers, colleges, and festivals and have been featured performers at a host of major city festivals and the Old Town School of Folk Music.
In particular, Rodriguez’s and AfriCaribe have sought to elevate the bomba tradition in Chicago, where they perform regularly at festivals and clubs. Bomba’s roots can be traced to 17th century colonial Puerto Rico where diverse slave populations developed distinct percussive rhythms that inspired dancing and singing and became a key part of collective cultural identity. Today there are at least sixteen different bomba rhythms. Lyrically the songs remain fairly straight forward, concerned with the affairs and emotions of every day life. AfriCaribe is featured on Folksongs of Illinois, vol. 5: Chicago Since 1970 (2013).