Nova Pangea creates harmony at the intersection of art, inclusion and positive impact

Three musicians on stage

Nova Pangea performs at the black box theater inside Fretz Park Branch Library in Dallas for their event “InTune With Nature.” Photo: Jessica Waffles

In a world where the rhythms of modern life often drown out the delicate melodies of nature, a cause-oriented band emerged to bridge the gap between art and activism. Nova Pangea, a musical ensemble committed to creating positive social impact through music, recently graced the stage at the black box theater within the Fretz Park Branch Library in Dallas.

Their “InTune With Nature” show at Fretz served as a harmonious reminder of the interconnectedness between artistic expression and need to be in harmony with the world around us.

A signer on stage

Singer Carmina Murillo of Nova Pangea delivers her vocals with passion and conviction on stage. Photo: Jessica Waffles

A wide shot of a black box there with people seated and a full band on stage

The audience filtered into the intimate space to enjoy the worldly music of Nova Pangea for InTune With Nature. Photo: Jessica Waffles

Led by Uriel Vázquez and Carmina Murillo, Nova Pangea commits to inclusivity and the celebration of diverse talents. They actively collaborate with artists who may often be overlooked – welcoming those who are deaf or hard of hearing to join them on stage for performances.

“We have been awarded with five grants from the City of Dallas, and our first grant was in 2022.” Vázquez said. “We used the money to create a festival that year called Together in Harmony Dallas ’22. The festival aimed to create awareness of the deaf and hard of hearing community. We hired musicians that were deaf and did nine online shows that included an ASL translator. We also brought African American deaf dancers to join.”

A musician on stage

Nova Pangea music director Uriel Vázquez on stage. Photo: Jessica Waffles

A musician playing harp on the left, a musician playing piano on the right

Laurel McConkey (left) and Jorge Arrendondo (right) play on stage with Nova Pangea. Photo: Jessica Waffles

“InTune With Nature” was another series that happened thanks to a grant from the city, which included sounds recorded in nature right here in Dallas.

“The whole idea behind it was to encourage people to listen to positive music and get exposed to the sounds of nature to lower stress and anxiety in their community,” Vázquez said. “We did extensive research about simple sounds of nature can bring your levels of stress down, as well as improve cognitive ability to put together thoughts.”

The concert included a projection screen that displayed the lyrics of the songs in English, even when the song was in a foreign language – as songs were sung in French, Spanish and more. This created a sense of understanding and inclusivity across language and hearing disability.

A drummer on stage

Juan Carlos Pérez on drums with Nova Pangea. Photo: Jessica Waffles

A full band on stage

Nova Pangea’s goal is to create positive social impact through their music. Photo: Jessica Waffles

“Before ‘Harmony,’ the city didn’t include people who are hard of hearing. Now, they give you points if you help people in the community.” Vázquez said. “We want to be an economic support. Whether we use the money from the grant or create a platform for people to make money from their art – that’s how we help. And we haven’t heard about anyone else in Dallas doing what we’re doing. In a way, we’re pioneers in putting together platforms for people with disabilities to achieve their dreams playing with a band”

A musician playing bass

Pat Witte on bass with Nova Pangea. Photo: Jessica Waffles

A singer and drummer on stage

Carmina Murillo on stage backed by drummer Juan Carlos Pérez. Photo: Jessica Waffles

As a band with a mission, lead singer Murillo seeks to influence the people across all generations.

“There’s not a lot of music with good content for children or even teenagers or adults,” Murillo says. “We would like to make cool again the positive music. For that reason we perform not only originals but covers. Because there’s too many authors that have good stories in their songs, and we honor them.”

Songs on the setlist included “Llegaremos A Tiempo” by Rosana Arbelo, “Mira Pa’ Dentro” by Carlos Jean, “Je Veux” by Zaz, and more.

“We select songs that aren’t number one hits, they’re outside of the box – outside of the traditional equation.” Vázquez said. “Songs about respecting women, songs about protecting the environment. We create our own arrangement to songs from all over the world. They don’t get to the top because they encourage critical thinking, and thinking about the time we have on Earth.”

A full band on stage

The set list included positive music from Spain, Argentina, Australia, Mexico, France and the US. Photo: Jessica Waffles

Two musicians on stage. One playing violin and one playing bass

Multi-instrumentalist Felipe Díaz played the violin, trumpet, Vihuela and sang backup vocals during the show. Photo: Jessica Waffles

A harpist on stage

Harpist Laurel McConkey is a hard of hearing musician that Nova Pangea makes it their mission to support. Photo: Jessica Waffles

This Saturday August 5, Nova Pangea invites the community to participate in a clean-up project at White Rock Lake from 8AM -9AM, the last piece of the “InTune With Nature” series, which included two online shows, the concert (at Fretz) and the community walk / clean-up.

Thanks to the Culture Value Program grant the band received, they will also be hosting a concert on September 2 called “World Tour Without Boarders” that will be hosted at Sammons in Dallas.

The event will have world music in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and Japanese, featuring performances with more local musicians. Their guest organization with my Dogs For Better Lives, who train dogs to help people with hearing disabilities, autism, and general service dog responsibilities.

A full band on stage

Lyrics are displayed in English behind the band on a projector for every song, including those in foreign languages. Photo: Jessica Waffles

A singer on stage

The sounds of nature permeated the room as the band played positive music. Photo: Jessica Waffles

A ful band on stage, a musician waving to the crowd

The crowd showed love in the intimate room as the band closed out the night. Photo: Jessica Waffles

Through the Community Arts Program grant Nova Pangea received, any organization who wants to do a free event open to the public can hire the band and the City of Dallas will cover the band’s fees. They’re part of a larger roster that supports local artists to bring music into public spaces. Nova Pangea will also perform 14 shows inside Love Field Airport starting in October.

“Our goal with our music is to unify these generational and emotional gaps, and also the cultural gap,” Vázquez said. “We call it an opportunity to be exposed to positive entertainment, for people from all demographics and ages.”

A projection screen with lyricsdisplayed

Nova Pangea holds strong convictions that come through their lyrics and the way they use their platform to speak their minds. Photo: Jessica Waffles

Jessica Waffles is a freelance photographer/videographer and regular contributor to KXT. 

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