In my last post, I couldn’t decide which of two Louisiana music festivals to attend this past weekend: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival or Lafayette’s Festival International de Louisiane. Jazz Fest is always a good time, and several of my friends live in New Orleans and went to the fest. Despite Jazz Fest’s notoriety, I opted for Lafayette’s smaller, lesser known event.
Part of my reasoning was just that: The Festival International de Louisiane flies under the radar on the American festival circuit. Not many people outside of southern Louisiana know about it (and many from my neck of the woods have never heard of it either). Considering it’s local, hidden gem nature, I was surprised to learn that it won the About.com’s Reader’s Choice Award for Best World Music Festival– two years in a row! (see the nominee criteria here). That’s pretty impressive.
Secondly, the festival is free. What’s the worst that could happen? You don’t have fun and you leave, no skin off your back. That’s a no-brainer! I don’t foresee anyone wanting to prematurely leave, though.
These kids (above) were likely hoping to sound like this guy:
The biggest draw for me was the immensely talented and very internationally diverse artist line-up. Specifically, one of my favorite African bands, Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits, was scheduled to play.
From Canada and the USA but native to Iran, Niyaz‘s hypnotic rhythms move the body and soul:
This is a travel blog. I love travel because I love experiencing and learning about different cultures. Music, like food and traditional celebrations, is one of the most important forms of cultural expression. It stands to reason, then, that I would naturally gravitate to such a festival. I’m kicking myself for only just now discovering such a treasure trove of cultural diversity through the celebration of music!
I love experiencing and learning about other cultures because I think it makes me a better person. Studying the belief systems of peoples throughout the world breeds international understanding, cooperation and peace. Facilitating this in some way is my life’s goal and soul’s passion (read more here).
Here, Niyaz’s beautiful lead singer Azam Ali shares my sentiment in such an eloquently articulate and powerful way. She talks about our shared “human journey.. which we are all on together,” and points out that we aren’t all that different from one another; “We’re all mothers, fathers….We all want the same thing: love, peace, to live with freedom and dignity.” If you watch no other video from this post, please watch this one (especially the last 25 seconds).
And here again, the infamous Oliver Mtukudzi from Zimbabwe waxes poetic about the transformative nature of music and the importance of it in diffusing tensions and spreading peace (watch video until 3:50 -it’s worth it!). The country of Zimbabwe is no stranger to conflict. Mr. Mtukudzi has been instrumental in fostering peace and goodwill.
How adorable is Mr. Mtukudzi? He just turned 60!
And he’s got some MOVES!
And he’s got mad guitar skills!
And I just love this song:
Chic gamine, a Canadian band (from Manitoba) displayed their acapella chops:
My partner in crime for the day? My “baby” brother Cameron. Twelve years my junior, he is somehow just like me in so many ways, especially when it comes to our love of experiencing cultures and places (read more about our culture vulture ways in Thailand). We are kindred spirits, to be certain. I hope that we have many more cultural adventures together in the future. He’s one of my favorite travel companions!
Next spring, when you are considering your travel plans, think about venturing on down to Cajun Country to experience the phenomenal Festival International de Louisiane. You could always combine it with a trip to New Orleans for Jazz Fest!!
Sending you light, love and song…. Thanks for reading!