CINCINNATI – Musicians Mark Becknell and Andre Souza want people from all walks of life to belly dance, play drums and just have fun together during the One World Music & Cultural Celebration this Sunday.
“We want everyone to just become one ball of happiness,” said Souza, who moved from Brazil to the United States in 1988 to study music.
Souza described the celebration as an interactive multicultural arts festival designed to create unity through music, folk art, dance demonstrations and food from Latin American, Caribbean and Mediterranean cultures.
The festival will take place 2-8 p.m. Sunday at Urban Artifact, located at 1660 Blue Rock St. in Northside. Admission is $12 in advance or $15 at the door; children 12 and under can attend for free.
Becknell, who plays the steel pan with the Queen City Silver Stars, said he approached Souza with the idea for One World after Souza hosted the Cincy Samba Fest, a Brazilian carnival party, at Urban Artifact in December.
“One of my goals was to always put on a world music-type show,” said Becknell. “Andre said Urban Artifact was packed for his event and joked that the entire Brazilian community in Cincinnati was there.”
Souza said Cincy Samba Fest sold out, and he thinks One World will do the same.
“It feels like the right time for this,” he said.
Becknell said One World also will offer guests the chance to be part of each show. Guests will learn how to belly dance, hand drum, perform capoeira (a Brazilian style of martial arts) and samba outside Urban Artifact between band performances. Then they can join the performances inside Urban Artifact.
“When you look at most music in cultures, other than a lot of Western music, there is no difference between audience and performer,” Becknell said. “Take African music. They used hand drumming in their daily lives. The beauty of that is there is no audience and there is no stage.”
Souza said he hopes the One World Music & Cultural Celebration is the first of many.
“Hopefully we bring that diversity to the main festivals in Cincinnati,” he said. “We want to be part of that and if we don’t do it we won’t get the notice. You do your thing, then you have your followers. That is the cause, to celebrate diversity and create unity.”