Growing the Spirit of the Samoana Festival
The 3rd annual Samoana Jazz & Arts Festival 2016 opened in American Samoa in the first weekend of November just before the US elections – and closed in Samoa over the last weekend.
In summing up the unique weekend to weekend festival celebrations – festival organisers agreed that the festival was received with positive enthusiasm by all involved. It had something for everyone – from Jazz inspired Blues, Soul, Gospel, Reggae and Country.
The educational component of the festival – Sounds of Samoana – Ethnomusicology Forum brought together a diverse selection of presenters – teachers, composers, performers, primary, high school students and students of the National Orchestra – examining the influences that have shaped music–making in the Samoas over time.
The efforts by organisers to profile local musicians in ways that told their own family histories and music connections – their musical journeys which for many included early years spent in Hawai’i, the US mainland, NZ, UK went a long way in revealing the wealth of experience that currently exists amongst the local music community.
It also highlighted the pride that Samoans have in celebrating our own treasures or Measina. And those artists who travelled to the festival from other countries were received as sons and daughters of Samoa.
Festival Director, Siteine Peta Si’ulepa emphasised that the spirit of “Samoana Festival” is best encapsulated in the Samoana proverb;
“O le mavaega nai le tai e fataia’i i i’u o gafa” – Samoan Proverb
The last farewell at the seashore, with the promise to meet again in the children
And the Festival did exactly that. The line-up of artists who performed in the various concerts, showcases in the 2Samoas demonstrated the musical lineage and interconnections of families with a tradition of composing, performance, known hits in Samoa, American Samoa as well as overseas.
Flying the banner theme this year “Combining local and overseas Samoan talent in a Samoana Showcase” – the festival highlighted the multi-dimensions of the local live music scene.
In American Samoa – the focus on the young and emerging artists wowed the crowd with some young and exciting new discoveries.
In Samoa – travelling Samoan artists from NZ, Sonny Southon, her brother Mark Southon and nephew Steve were supported by a huge travelling party of NZ based Aiga. Then there’s the musicians who have “returned home” – the experienced musos, the veterans, and those who studied music overseas or “cut their chops” (a muso expression describing playing experience) playing overseas in clubs, bars and restaurants. Combine these ingredients – and the Festival presents a uniquely Samoan music experience – to share with the world – each year.
The Samoana Festival – is more than an annual event. It brings together Samoan artists; investment partners on a range of levels to help grow the international festival each year – and it generates tourism by bringing visitors, friends and family to a festival destination – 2 festivals destinations in 2 countries – showcasing Samoan talent – and what’s more – it is OURS.