No matter who you are, how old you are or where you come from, music is universal. The sounds and rhythms are a language everyone is fluent in. That was why at globalFEST’s Creole Carnival concert Friday night, the blend of Brazilian, Haitian and Jamaican-style music was so enjoyable. The audience may not have understood what was being sung, just that the music was tantalizing to hear.
The concert was in celebration of Carnival, a time of partying and celebrating life that happens all over the world. Though the festivities may differ from country to country, the celebrations hold universal meaning, and part of it is found in the music.
The first act of the concert was Emeline Michel, a Haitian singer with rich vocals that were backed by a group of talented musicians. Her songs of joy, love and dreams told the story of where she came from.
“Haiti is the island that knows how to be smiling against all odds,” Michel said.
Through the sway of her hips and rock of her shoulders against the beat of the drums, Michel let the music flow through her body. Her voice’s range went from sultry lows to harmonious highs. As she finished her set, she told audience members “if you dream hard enough you will be surprised.”
The next performer was by far the most unique of the three. Aptly named Brushy One String, the singer accompanied himself on a guitar with only one string. A viral video sensation, he uses a mixture of percussion and strumming. The only singer to sing in English, the guitarist’s passionate performance was very entertaining, even though it was still difficult to understand every word with his thick Jamaican accent. His songs were filled with humor and joy, much like the singer himself.
The last set of performers was a group of five men from Rio de Janeiro. The upbeat performance of samba music by Casuarina was filled with songs in Portuguese and paid tribute to one of Brazil’s most influential composers, Josué de Barros. The lively group of five broke the stereotypes of Brazilian Carnival with large feather headdresses and outrageous parties and showed audience members the passion the music of Rio inspires.
To close the show, the three acts from three different countries came together in a perfect blend of styles. By the end of the show the entire audience was on their feet dancing along to songs that celebrated life and freedom. Throughout the show, audience members sang along with each group of performers.
“It’s interesting to exchange musical language and culture,” said a member of Casuarina.
This is globalFEST’s first American tour.
“GlobalFEST exists to introduce artists around the world to U.S. and Canada,” tour manager George Cruz said in the 15-minute lecture that preceded the concert.
What brought them to the college campus was the educational aspect that a concert of this type provided. In the lobby of the Alex and Faye Spanos Theatre there were posters that explained how Carnival is celebrated in Brazil, Jamaica and Haiti. What started as a conference has now become a two-month tour celebrating Creole culture.
Creole Carnival was a concert that shared an understanding for the joy that life brings and the music that can come from that. Each group represented a culture and a country so different from each other, yet still translated their sounds into a universal feeling and understanding of the celebration of life.