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Apr 21, 2016

Belizean Artists Depart for Jazz Festival

The New Orleans Jazz Festival, one of the most anticipated events in that genre, kicks off this weekend. Half a million persons are expected to visit the fest which runs for two weeks. The forty-seventh festival features top artists who will be performing from jazz to rock to rap to pop to R&B and even gospel. Eleven stages have been set up, but the main pavilion will feature Belize. Belizeans artists began departing on Wednesday for the event. Duane Moody caught up with them at a brief press conference held at the Belize Coalition of Service Providers Office before they headed to New Orleans.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Today, a first contingent of thirty Belizean artists, musicians and artisans left the country en route to U.S. for the forty-sixth annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The event runs from April twenty-second to May first and attracts over half a million persons from across the world to the one hundred and forty-five-acre fair grounds and racetrack. It’s an international platform that will see headliners such as Stevie Wonder, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Snoop Dogg and Paul Simon and this year, Belizean artists join the spotlight.

 

Ivan Duran

Ivan Duran, Head of Delegation

“It’s a big day for us and for music in Belize. For the first time I think a contingent this large has gone to perform at a festival in the U.S. and it is very exciting. We have very used to doing this with one band or two bands, but never like six at the same time. So it is kinda hectic, but we are very happy and we are proud. We are very, very proud that this is happening to us now and everybody is putting their part and we are all here in Belize City ready to go to the airport. It is not as easy as it looks, but it has been several months and the preparation work has been great—not only by the team here in Belize, but also in the U.S. to make this day possible.”

 

Belize’s unique and diverse cultural heritage—Maya, Mestizo, Garifuna and Creole—will take center stage at the world renowned New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. From wood carvers, to carnival costume designers, as well as musicians and singers—over fifty will be the focus of the Festival’s 2016 Cultural Exchange Pavilion.

 

David Matus, Titans Mas Band

“This year we are going to be focusing and featuring last year’s queen of carnival 2015 which was asked to be shipped to New Orleans so that will be on display as well. I will be doing demonstration for two weekends and making new pieces showing what locally we can make right here in Belize.”

 

Martha Chiac, Maya Artisan

“I am one of the demonstrators so I will be demonstrating my basket weaving out there which will be something new for the festival.”

 

Martha Chiac

Duane Moody

“Now long have you been weaving these baskets?”

 

Martha Chiac

“Right now I have been doing this for five years, six years and I actually have a business. And like the guy said, they found us on Facebook, so they know who to choose. I am so glad that I am selected to go to this festival.”

 

Hilario Mes

Hilario Mes, Ketchi Harp Music

“We are actually going to make the instrument on the stage at the Jazz fest in New Orleans. We have material started, but unfinished and we are going to finish it on stage until we are able to play it on stage. We are not taking that are ready to play. We are taking a piece of log and we are going to carve it until it sounds on the stage there in New Orleans. So eighty percent of our time, we will be demonstrating and twenty percent will be playing the music on the stage.”

 

William “Juni Mar” Mariano, Musician

“Excited, put in a lot of rehearsal…di backup a lot of artists. This is the first time we di get on the big stage so we are ready to deliver. We wa put punta rock out there and we hope and wish for the best.”

 

Al Obando

Al Obando, Garifuna Collective

“Everybody hoping that it will be a learning experience for all the groups. For us the Garifuna Collective, we really feel fortunate that at this time we can present other groups from Belize and not just the Garifuna Collective. Every time we come back and bring back the stories to the other groups, there is nothing like having them showcase themselves on the stage that we are always talking about. So all the other groups are super excited and it is a privilege for us to have these guys under our wings and guide them through from our experience. You have like Brother David he has a bunch of experience but the musicians are looking forward to being a part of this; they are excited.”

 

But putting the delegation together was not without its hiccups. TR Shine and his band were to represent the Jewel at the event, but several members were unable to acquire their visas and Sweet Pain Band was the last minute replacement.

 

Ivan Duran

“It was only that one unfortunate incident. One of the bands had to be replaced at the very last minute because there were some visa denials. So TR Shine won’t be able to perform as he was announced by the festival, but he is being replaced by Sweet Pain Band on the first weekend. So we managed to solve the problem, but we are very confident. One thing for sure is that the music will not disappoint. Once any of these performers go on stage, they will not disappoint; I am one hundred percent sure. And the reason why I am so sure is because all they have to do is be themselves. These are artists who know their craft, they know their art and that’s the only thing they know because it is them. And that’s the beauty about culture when you are not trying to be somebody else and you are just being yourself, you can never go wrong. And people will always relate to that.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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