Raíces Cultural Center Ensemble

About the Raíces Folkloric Ensemble

The Raíces Cultural Center Folkloric Ensemble is comprised of an intergenerational mix of advanced students and professional musicians. The ensemble performs the folkloric traditions of the Caribbean, as well as fusions of these traditions with modern genres. Rumba, batá, bomba, plena, són, comparsa, seis, and aguinaldo are some of the genres the ensemble performs and presents. The ensemble also aims to educate their audiences through historical explanations, school performances, workshops, multimedia presentations and technology. For more information about ensemble performances, please contact Francisco G. Gómez at 908-227-5671 or fuyo [at] raicesculturalcenter [dot] org.

Search “Raíces Cultural Center Ensemble” on the Raíces Digital Archive for videos and photos of past performances, as well as information on the traditions the ensemble seeks to preserve and share.

Currently, the core members of the ensemble are:

Francisco G. Gómez (director, percussion, tres, guitar, vocals) – Francisco is the Director and co-founder of Raíces Cultural Center. He began formal instruction in music at the age of 8 and continues to perform and teach the music of the Caribbean as the Director of the Raíces Cultural Center Ensemble. Francisco has directed several productions featuring the music, song, dance and traditions of the Caribbean, “Los Vejigantes de Puerto Rico”, “The Spirit of the Drum: History and Evolution of an Afrocaribbean Tradition”, “Festival for the Dead”, and “Orishas: Tale of Two Waters”.

Nicole Wines (choreography, percussion, bass, vocals) – Nicole is a co- founder of Raíces Cultural Center and coordinates its EcoCulture and Digital Archive programs. She has been playing with the Raíces Cultural Center Ensemble since its formation in 2008, and also serves as a teaching artist, dancer and choreographer for the ensemble.

Jaime Hernández (percussion, vocals) – Jaime, who was born in Cuba, but has spent most of his life in New Brunswick, NJ began studying percussion with Raíces Director Francisco G. Gómez in 2012. After years of study and dedication, Jaime became a Raíces Folkloric Ensemble member in 2015, performing a variety of Caribbean folkloric and traditional genres. Jaime has enjoyed performing the folkloric musical traditions of Cuba and Puerto Rico with the Raíces Folkloric Ensemble and wants audience members to know it is never too late to pursue the passion of music.

Eddie LaPorté (percussion, vocals) – Eddie’s passion for music was nurtured as a youngster when his dad would “attempt” to teach him to keep time with the clave when listening to mambo. Music has always been a part of his life, from taking professional clarinet lessons for 6 years to becoming a recognized DJ throughout Middlesex County. He currently plays the barriles de bomba and the batá drums. His innate passion for drumming is literally ingrained in his DNA. Eddie is a direct descendent of the Congolese as his grandmother (Mami Fana) was in the womb of her mother, Eddie’s grand grandmother during the middle passage and she was born into slavery in Puerto Rico. Eddie’s grandfather (Papi Paco) was also born into slavery in Puerto Rico. Eventually they both were freed and Papi Paco, as the story goes, was a renowned Bomba dancer in Puerto Rico.