Tizzy & El-A-Kru returned to Antigua and Barbuda recently after successful performances at the Caribbean Music Festival in the Chinese capital of Beijing. They were included in diverse group of musicians selected from the Caribbean to represent their country at the Latin America and Caribbean Music Festival. Other nations represented included Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Panama, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.
The free festival staged at the Rose Bud, 798 Art Zone in the Chinese capital was organized to promote cultural cooperation and create opportunities for enhanced exchanges between China and the Caribbean.
Performers also included Jamaica’s award-winning reggae singer Everton Blender, Barbadian Billboard-charting soca artiste Rupee, Trinidadian soca diva Lil Bitts, Surinamese singer Mitchell Brunings who rose to fame on The Voice Holland and 11 other bands from 15 Caribbean and Latin countries, offering fans multiple reggae, soca, rock and folk music performances.
The festival took place over 4 days from April 30 until May 3. Apart from the Rose Bud, 798 Art Zone, there were also performances at various venues throughout Beijing including the Beihang University and Modernsky Lab. International flights and hotel accommodations were provided to the groups selected by the organizers in China.
According to Caribbean Entertainment (CE), the artist booking agency that provided the festival’s featured performers, “the music festival provided not only opportunities for cultural exchange but a stage for our artists to showcase their amazing talent to a virtually untapped market.” Trinidad and Tobago Ambassador to China Chandradath Singh said, “China has a big appetite for foreign acts in a big way.”
“I like the feeling the music gives me. I could be here for half a day and not feel like leaving, it makes me feel like I want to get on the stage.” said Luo Lifang, 26, from Guizhou Province, who works in Beijing’s finance sector. Li said that although it was her first time to listen to Caribbean music, and she didn’t quite understand the lyrics, she enjoyed the show. Sheree Wilson, a Jamaican who lives in Beijing, said the event had her reminisce about home. “I really enjoy the music festival. It reminds me of home,” she said. “It’s great seeing the Caribbean culture being showcased in China.”
“It is always an honour to represent our country internationally, we’ve been to Europe a few times now and will be going back again this year, but this was our first time in Asia” said Tizzy of her experience, “the reaction of the crowd was unbelievable. We would have never imagined it in our wildest dreams.” Tizzy and El-A-Kru have recently released two new tracks for Antigua Carnival with more new songs to come.
The event, which featured musicians and bands from all the Caribbean countries that have embassies in Beijing, provided a forum for all the embassies in Beijing to work together to showcase the Caribbean. Organized by Ministry of Culture of China, presented by China Arts and Entertainment Group, in collaboration with the embassies of the Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago, the music festival is also part of the China-Latin America and Caribbean Year of Culture Exchange.
Proposed by President Xi Jinping at the China–Latin American and Caribbean Countries Leaders’ Meeting in Brasilia in July 2014, Year 2016 marks the China–Latin America and Caribbean Year of Cultural Exchange.
In addition to four performances in various venues around Beijing, Tizzy and the band had the opportunity to visit iconic sites such as the Great Wall of China providing them with a lifetime of memories.