Event Guide • Artist Talk: Xênia França, Vox Sambou & Catalina Maria Johnson The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland

About the Event

Presented by the Artist Partner Programs

Tuesday, May 11, 2021 • 5:30PM EDT

Brazilian singer Xênia França and Haitian hip-hop artist Vox Sambou have taken vastly different paths with their musical careers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In this unique interview, also featuring renowned radio host, cultural journalist and music curator Catalina Maria Johnson, the two singer-songwriters share their triumphs, challenges and the deep impact of social isolation as artists on the brink of international stardom.

Photo by Geoff Sheill

Honor Native Lands

Before we begin, we invite you to take a moment to reflect on and acknowledge the Indigenous roots of the land that you’re on.

The Artist Partner Programs at The Clarice believes that artists can be catalysts for community change, leadership and empowerment, and we have chosen to begin the effort of building bridges across cultures by acknowledging what has been buried by honoring the truth.

We are standing on the ancestral lands of the Piscataway People, who were among the first in the Western Hemisphere to encounter European colonists. And we honor the enslaved who assisted with the creation of this University. We pay respects to these and other elders, past and present. Please take a moment to consider the many legacies of violence, displacement, migration, immigration, and settlement that bring us together here today.

About The Artists

Xênia França

Photo by Filipa Aurélio

Artist Links: InstagramTwitterSoundCloudFacebook

Xenia França hails from Bahia, the birthplace of Brazil’s most iconic musicians — Gal Costa, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil to name just three. França continues in that distinguished lineage, building a career that’s captivated audiences at home and abroad. Her sound honors the roots of African diaspora in Brazil, blending traditional percussion with electronica, jazz, and R&B. She was nominated for the Latin Grammy in 2018 both for her debut album Xenia, and also for the single “Pra Que Me Chamas?”

França mixes tenderness and grit, resolve and romance inside songs that sprint through samba and drift through soul, nod to electronica and nestle into balladry. França is a smart and talented songwriter positioning herself in the center of debates and emerging as the voice of female empowerment and the fight against racism. She brings a mix of jazz, pop and electronic music in a soft and sensual sound infused with bossa nova flair that is shrouded in mystique and otherworldly energy.

Vox Sambou

Photo by Luz Vermelha

Artist Links: Facebook • Instagram • Spotify • Web

Vox Sambou comes from Limbé, Haiti. He writes and performs in Haitian-Creole, French, English, Spanish and Portugues. He is a founding member of Montreal-based hip-hop collective, Nomadic Massive. He performed across North America at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.; Grand Performances in Los Angeles; Le Printemps de Bourges, France, Chile, Brasil, Sénégal, Mali and Burkina Faso, Colombia, Brasil, Morocco, Spain and the USA.

His music is a fusion of traditional rhythms of Haiti and Afro-Latin elements on afrobeat, reggae and hip-hop. As a songwriter, he recorded "Lakay" in 2008, "Dyasporafriken" in April 2013 and "The Brasil Session" in 2016, accompanied by musicians from different backgrounds. Vox Sambou is a committed musician who is not afraid to denounce injustice, social imbalances and inequities.

Vox holds a BA in Psychology and Anthropology and has worked as the director for more than 10 years of Youth House of the Côte-des-Neiges, a non-profit organization whose mandate is to prevent delinquency among teenagers in the district of Montreal’s Côte-des Neiges. Vox Sambou is crucially involved in the achievement of educational and community projects based in Limbé, Haiti. He is a founding member of Solid’Ayiti, an artists and activists initiative working for a long-term solidarity between Montreal and movements fighting for social justice in Haiti, according to the principles of self- sufficiency, education, decentralization and reforestation.

Catalina Maria Johnson, Ph.D.

Photo by Carolina Sánchez

Artist Links: Web • Facebook • Instagram • Twitter • YouTube • LinkedIn

Catalina Maria Johnson, Ph.D. is a Chicago-based journalist. She hosts and produces her own radio show, Beat Latino, which airs in Chicago on Vocalo (Chicago Public Media). Catalina is also a regular contributor to NPR, Bandcamp, Downbeat and a member of the editorial board of Revista Contratiempo.

Catalina’s music journalism explores the extraordinary diversity of the global music scene – from traditional roots music to cutting-edge electronic grooves. She is most interested in sharing artful music that “connects the dots” between generations, genres, nations and peoples and illuminates forgotten or neglected histories.

Photo by David Andrews

Our Team: The Clarice Management

Erica Bondarev Rapach, Acting Executive Director–The Clarice

Shafali Jalota, Assistant to the Executive Director

Artist Partner Programs

Tyler Clifford, Assistant Artistic Administrator

Yarina Conners, Artistic Administrator

Connie Dai, Graduate Assistant

Lauren Floyd, Graduate Assistant

Jane Hirshberg, Assistant Director–Campus and Community Engagement

Jeannette-Marie Lewis, Graduate Assistant

Katie McCarthy, Graduate Assistant

Tariq Darrell O'Meally, Guest Curator & BlackLight Summit Producer

Jennifer Osborn, Rental Partnership Coordinator

Megan Pagado Wells, Associate Director of Programming

Richard Scerbo, Director–National Orchestral Institute + Festival

Austin Sposato, Artist Services Coordinator

Facilities Management

Bill Brandwein, Operations & Facilities Manager

Finance & Administration

Jacqueline Howard, Director of Finance & Administration

Matthew Fenlon, IT Coordinator

Jacquelyn Gutrick, Finance & Administration Specialist

Gal Kohav, Graduate Assistant

Fernando Merchan, Business Manager

LeeAnn Serrant, Human Resources Coordinator

Oznur Tuluoglu, Graduate Assistant

Kimberly Turner, HR Business Services Specialist

Guest Experience

Sara Gordon, Manager of Guest Experience

Kristen Olsen, Senior Guest Experience Coordinator

Paige Cook, Guest Experience Coordinator

Liana Stiegler Orndorff, Guest Experience Coordinator


Ryan Knapp, Director of Operations

Carrie Barton, Lighting Coordinator

Lisa Burgess, Costume & Crafts Coordinator

Susan Chiang, Costume Shop Coordinator

Ann Chismar, Scenic Charge Coordinator

Jennifer Daszczyszak, Costume Shop Manager

Michael Driggers, Assistant Technical Director

Sandy Everett, Technical Coordinator

Reuven Goren, Scene Shop Coordinator

Timothy Jones, Prop Shop Manager

Devin Kinch, Projections Coordinator

Tessa Lew, Costume Draper & Tailor

Jennifer McDonald, Production Coordinator

James O'Connell, Assistant Manager of Audio

Mark Rapach, Technical Director

Jeffrey Reckeweg, Technology Shop Manager

Beth Ribar, Production Coordinator

Kat Rother, Production Coordinator

Kara Wharton, Production Manager

Our Team: College of Arts & Humanities

Bonnie Thornton Dill, Dean


Laura Brown, Assistant Dean for Development

Susan Berkun, Assistant Director of Institutional Giving

Norah Quinn McCormick, Assistant Director of Development

Angela Smith, Development Coordinator

Marketing & Communications

Monique Everette, Assistant Dean for Marketing & Communications

Rika Dixon White, Director of Marketing & Guest Experience

David Andrews, Photographer & Videographer

Zach Bryant, Graduate Assistant

Deja Collins, Graduate Assistant

Roxene Edwards, Digital Experience Coordinator

Piama Habibullah, Assistant Director–Creative Strategy

Carlos Howard, Marketing Communications Coordinator–Artist Partner Programs

Mary Loutsch, Marketing Assistant

Heather Markle, Creative Coordinator

Charlene Prosser, Graphic Designer

Sarah Snyder, Assistant Director–Communications

Created By
The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center