Don't forget to grab your tickets for the world premier of John Rapson's "Esteban and the Children of the Sun" at The Englert Theatre in Iowa City! The performance by The Mektoub Arkestra will take place THIS SUNDAY (October 3, 2021) at 3:00 PM.

Esteban & The Children of the Sun is a musical suite that imagines and interprets the tricontinental journey of Esteban of Azemmour, the 16th-century Moroccan explorer and first documented African to travel across the North American lands of present-day southwestern United States.

A multi-media production combining music with dialogue, images and projected text, Esteban & The Children of the Sun follows the 2016 musical project, Hot Tamale Louie, a multi-genre collaboration between composer, musician, and educator, John Rapson, and composer/musicians Daniel “Nielo” Gaglione and Dave Moore. In developing Esteban & The Children of the Sun, Rapson once again brought Gaglione on board, together with Iowa City blues musician and songwriter, Kevin Burt, and Denver-based flamenco guitarist and composer, Miguel Espinoza. Writer and spoken-word artist, Caleb “The Negro Artist” Rainey, offers contemporary insights and reflections through a series of dialogues interspersed with the Rapson-orchestrated tunes and the improvisatory contributions of Mektoub Arkestra. Esteban & The Children of the Sun invites the audience to sonically explore Esteban’s travels from his birthplace in early 16th-century Morocco to enslaved servitude in Spain, a transatlantic journey as part of the 1527 Narváez expedition to Florida, and his eventual multiyear crossing of the American southwest as one of only four survivors from Narváez’s failed attempt to colonize the Gulf coast.

This event is proudly brought to you by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Humanities Iowa. 

Visit to purchase tickets and find more information.

***Art by Gary Kelley (