Caribbean artistes to ‘Celebrate Kamala’ January 17
Caribbean-American immigrant, journalist, entrepreneur, and advocate, Felicia J. Persaud, is all about celebrating history, and at this moment in time, the name Kamala Harris is nothing short of historic. Persaud has seized the moment to rally the Caribbean to stage a super party in honour of the fact that United States VP-elect, Harris, is the first black woman to hold this post, and she is Caribbean to boot.
Significantly, however, Persaud was persuaded to take this stand owing to the fact that somehow, Harris’ Caribbean heritage is all too often being overlooked. “It upsets me how Caribbean people continue to be ignored. Kamala Harris is the first black Caribbean-Indian-American VP, except that her Caribbean/Jamaican heritage is being ignored. Most of the reports speak to her Indian/American heritage and that’s it. So we have to put some spotlight on the Caribbean community and make some noise,” Persaud told The Gleaner.
With that in mind, on January 17 – Dr Martin Luther King Jr weekend – some of the Caribbean’s most notable artistes, dignitaries, and organisations globally will come together to mark this moment in history, just ahead of the swearing-in of Harris as US vice-president at the 59th Presidential Inauguration. Invest Caribbean, touted as the number one global private sector investment agency of the Caribbean, founded by Persaud, has put on the event in collaboration with the Caribbean American Action Network (CAAN), a collective of Caribbean-American and Caribbean organisations. The live, virtual, Caribbean inauguration party is being presented under the theme: ‘Celebrating Caribbean American Kamala’.
On the roster to perform are Jamaican deejay Flourgon, who in January won a lawsuit against American pop princess, Miley Cyrus; Barbados Soca King Edwin Yearwood; Krosfyah; rising stars Toni Norville and Brown; Jamaican gospel singer Joan Myers; Jamaican artiste Janine Jkuhl; Owen Dalhouse who recently released Heal the Soul of America; Fab Five Band, which is this year celebrating 50 years in the music industry, and Jamaican and Guyanese Menes De Griot and Shanto.
MORE PERFORMERS THAN EXPECTED
Persaud is excited that these artistes have willingly given of their time and talent to make this virtual event a reality. “We put together a small group of persons to organise this event and it became much bigger than what we had originally planned. The acts were decided upon simply by who on the team knew somebody they could call upon at the last minute to perform pro bono. And all those who were asked responded enthusiastically,” Persaud explained.
She explained that De Griot, an African spiritual leader, herbalist, and master drummer who has performed at the Million Women March and Tribute to the Ancestors, will open the event with a powerful pouring of libation to the ancestors, followed by a group performance on drums.
Persaud added, “This is a historic moment for us as Caribbean people in the United States who have been here since slavery, and we are hopeful that [Kamala Harris] will represent the best interest of all Americans, inclusive of those who share her Caribbean ancestry. America and the Caribbean region have always enjoyed a positive working diplomacy and trust this will be reinforced now we have the US first black Caribbean American VP in the White House.”
Regarding the oft-debated perceptions that Harris herself has ignored her Caribbean heritage, Persaud said the organisers want to be “on the right side of history”. It is a fact that she is of Caribbean ancestry. We are calling attention to our community and the diaspora. Caribbean people voted for Kamala Harris because her father is Jamaican and they felt that connection. We are ready to stand up and be counted. If you want our vote, you have to respect us. We are more than a party people,” Persaud declared.
“Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness has committed to bringing remarks, and so too has the Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies, Sir Hilary Beckles, who is also chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission,” Persaud said. Among the other top speakers scheduled to bring messages of congratulations and greetings are Congressman Adriano Espaillat of NY, one of only a few Caribbean-born US Congress members; Dr Sheila Newton Moses; Caribbean Immigrant Services founder, Irwine Clare Sr; Coalition for the Preservation of Reggae Music’s Carlyle McKetty, and Esther Austin of Esther Austin Global.
The Celebrating Caribbean American Kamala concert will be hosted by the first black woman in a James Bond movie, Trina Parks, whose roots extend to Barbados and Antigua, and soca star Kirk Brown. The live-stream will kick off at 7 p.m. EST on January 17, on the Facebook, Twitter and YouTube platforms of One Caribbean Television (OCTV) at facebook.com/onecaribbeantelevision, as well as on Radio 102.9FM in Antigua and Barbuda.