Haiti's First International Music Festival
- Words: Fred Miketa
Jacmel, Haiti has never seen a music festival, but from May 25-27, the region will get a taste of international glory as more than 24 bands and musicians take the stage for Festival Mizik Jakmel.
Set to headline are Stephen (pictured below) and Damian “Junior Gong” Marley, while reggae, hip-hop, jazz, and R&B acts like Les Nubians, The Reggae Cowboys, and Emeline Michel will showcase their talent before the Caribbean Sea and a bunch of stoked Haitians, and to a lesser extent, vacationing music enthusiasts from around the globe.
But even with the Marleys generating celebratory buzz, there’s another reason to eagerly anticipate this worldly gathering–a really big drum circle, and we’re not talking about some cheesy group of smiling performers or overly excited hippies.
Festival organizers Jeremie Sterlin, Patrick Boucard, and Kate Tarratt Cross seem to be aiming for the Guinness Book World Record, expecting over 10,000 drummers to get down.
Outside of the drum circle warfare and line-up, the fest is designed to empower Haitians through art and culture. Part of the proceeds will go to local non-profits like Fondation Sant D’A jakmèl, Ecolede Musique Dessaix Baptiste (Jacmel Music School), Kroma (a foundation for street children), and Pazapa (an outlet for the handicapped).
Boucard states that, “Empowerment through music, the reconnection of Haiti with the rest of the world, the promotion of regional tourism, and the projection of a positive image of Haiti are some of the goals that we want to accomplish.” With a drum circle that mammoth, those goals may easily become a reality.
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