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Virtual Festival To Promote Underrepresented Talents

Although COVID-19 has caused uncertainty about events and festivals, the International Reggae Afro Latin Music & Arts Festival is going live.

IRAL Festival has decided to host a virtual party on July 10, featuring Caribbean, Latin and African music and dancing showcased by talented local performers. The event is free and will start at 7:30 pm CST and streamed on Facebook, Mixcloud and, with musical performances from Papa Mamba Trio, Balo, Accalia Deep Roots Dancers and many more.

IRAL was created to be the catalyst to express the underrepresented talents on a professional platform and an opportunity for people to unite.

“We are very excited to be able to provide this platform for local artists to showcase their passions and spread joy, culture and sense of community. We hope that Manitobans come together, virtually for now, to support and enjoy these showcases,” says Neville Hamilton, CEO and Project Director of the IRAL Festival. “We look forward to when we can all come together in person for what is in the works to be an all inclusive, internationally represented, three day long festival in both Brandon and Winnipeg.”

Having a whole family of musicians, Neville understands the importance of creating an environment when artists are recognized for their talents and compensated appropriately. Neville says the festival isn’t only the perfect place to push artists towards excellence and drive local businesses involved in music. “It takes a community to develop this [the festival] and make it grow.”

Exposing new musicians to a concert scene does more than improve their confidence as artists, but for many, an avenue to showcase their cultures. Neville’s daughter, Jayda,  has been living in Canada for ten years. As a result, she hasn’t been as exposed to her culture as in her youth. Jayda decided to pursue Reggae music to reconnect with her culture. It has been a great experience to learn more about her history, build an identity of her own, and bring others on that journey.

“I like writing music and being able to create something,” says Jayda. “Seeing others listen to it and their reactions to my writing is fantastic… I’ve always just enjoyed writing, and it’s been that way since I was nine. I remember my first song, which was with my dad. He was playing guitar, and I started writing lyrics to it. I just sit down and write, and the ideas start flowing.”

That love for music and writing has led to her new Single ‘When you Lie .’

“I wrote this song when I was 17. The melody popped into my head with the line, ‘I know when you lie, all I have to do is look in your eyes.’  I started writing based on that line and try to tell a story through it. I’ve had friends and family members who have gone through similar situations. They would come to me and tell me their problems, and I was there to calm them through that process. I was able to get their perspectives and turned it into a song.”  

The song has seen success overseas in Germany, the U.K., and Africa.

However, it doesn’t seem to have had the same impact in Canadian markets.  Neville says that is something they are actively pursuing, finding out what becomes a hit in Canada and how they can help others find success.

“Never give up and never settle for less,” says Neville. “If you sit on your talents, you’ll never get anywhere. Keep pressing and asking for people who can help. Canada has an excellent program now for musicians and resources for help, but you need to know how to get there. As we put this [festival] in place, I’m also finding that we can connect with talent and help them access programs and help as we go along.”

The virtual party and the DJ Live streams IRAL has been hosting on the same platforms every Saturday night are lead-up events to the actual festival, which has been postponed due to current public health restrictions.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of U Multicultural.

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