With its performances, Calle Sur immerses audiences in the soundscapes and rhythms rooted in many Latin American cultures. Edgar East’s and Karin Stein’s work on stage and in educational settings is shaped by their life-long personal and professional experiences: both are immigrants to the United States who have undergone firsthand the process of adaptation to a new culture. Both are experienced teachers, and both perform expertly a broad range of Latin music styles, including traditional and popular, jazz, and salsa.
Ed East is Panamanian. His upbringing in Panama City meant noise, hustle, bustle, and those chaotic smells and sights so characteristic of any metropolis. It also meant being surrounded by musical innovation and creativity. Karin Stein, his Colombian partner, brings to the music of Calle Sur the perspective of her more traditional, rural upbringing. She grew up on an isolated rice and cattle farm in the eastern plains of Colombia.
While Ed rode buses and watched TV, Karin rode horses and watched red ibises stalk across emerald green rice fields. There was no TV in her neck of the woods, and no electricity for that matter. Only a small transistor radio which sometimes worked, and from which she gleaned tidbits of an outer world. His veins were filled with the fusion of world beats converging in a big city. Her soul harbored haunting cowboy tunes from her traditional Llanero culture, a fascinating people whose music has slowly become known tin the rest of the world.
They met in Iowa, where they both had moved on student scholarships, had stayed, and had built a life in a foreign but welcoming land. They have been pioneers in a state that has seen a significant influx of Latinos only in the last two decades. Ed and Karin have been a team for 21 years, enriching and challenging their audiences’ notions about Latin America and Latin Americans with beautiful sounds, skill, and an engaging stage presence.
One minute, Ed's drumming makes you jump to your feet. The next, you sway to the samba he plays on his guitar. Karin strums a mean 6/8 beat on her Venezuelan cuatro, then effortlessly switches to Bolivian panpipes. Ed's versatility takes you from guajira and jazz to bossa nova and salsa tunes. Karin's voice melts you away with a Honduran lullaby, then swings you with an Afro-Colombian cumbia. To celebrate Calle Sur's 20th anniversary, the duo is launched its new "Cancún" repertoire in 2021, which blends traditional and original Latin tunes with jazz piano - a truly fresh and innovative sound!
Calle Sur is what happens when you combine male and female, Black and White, and urban and rural perspectives. Hearing Calle Sur gives you that gorgeous feeling that something just left you energized and tingling, but you can't say exactly why. Seeing Calle Sur is living proof that the terms "Latinx," "Latino" and "Latina" can't be summarized.