MUSIC BOX: OneBeat for All

By on October 11, 2017

An amalgam of culture, art and world music makes a stop in Jackson this week

It looks like Jackson drew the lucky music straw this week. We’re one of only four stops on the OneBeat tour, a public-private cultural diplomacy initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and Bang on a Can’s Found Sound Nation.

If you’re unsure of what that “cultural diplomacy initiative” means, we’ll break it down for you. Think of it like this: OneBeat isn’t your traditional concert with a band and an opener. Rather, it’s a global music celebration with artists from all over the world who are collaborating together to create unique, unforgettable music for the masses in Jackson.

Every fall the OneBeat program brings musicians from around the world together to write, produce and perform music together, which they couple with arts-based social engagement to get the crowd involved.

According to the OneBeat website, the program’s philosophy is this: OneBeat is designed with the belief that the creation of high-quality original music is an ideal vehicle for crossing cultural and political divides. This creative process exemplifies how people from dramatically different musical backgrounds, with diverse training, conceptions of music, and aesthetics, can negotiate differences and find an interplay of cultures that maintains the integrity of each tradition. At OneBeat we encourage musicians to listen deeply to each others’ musical voices, and to create work that values the complexity and idiosyncrasies of each tradition, creating risky, wholly unique musical works. This type of egalitarian, cross-cultural interaction continues in our discussions of social issues, as we find ways to use music to catalyze positive change in our communities and internationally.

This year’s show will feature 25 musicians from 17 countries, including South African vocalist Nonku Phiri; Aisaana Omorova, a komuz (traditional three-stringed strummed instrument) player from Kyrgyzstan; Chicago-based producer Elijah Jamal; and Belorussian producer and singer Natalia Kuznetskaya.

These artists, among others, are set to take the stage for an “evening of ensemble performances, interactive sound art and a celebration of global community through music in our first (and only) appearance in Jackson Hole,” according to the Center for the Arts website.

The show will feature organic mash-ups of traditional song from Kyrgyzstan, edgy pop from South Africa, politically charged electronic music from Jordan, and Chicago hip hop, in a celebration of how music can invigorate our local and global communities, according to the OneBeat website.

It’s super cool, really, the idea of collaborating with musicians and artists from around the globe. Traditions, musical techniques and individual cultures collide to create a sound and a show like no other, and it’s even cooler that Jackson is on the list of places the show will visit during this year’s tour.

This is the 6th year for OneBeat, a program that has pioneered the idea of enmeshing cultural music, art and technology as a form of cultural diplomacy.

But while the program has been going on for a number of years, this is OneBeat’s first and only stop in Jackson, so you really should head out to catch the show.

The only other stops for OneBeat are in Oregon, Idaho and Colorado, and Jackson is a whole lot more convenient than a trip to Ft. Collins. PJH

OneBeat will be held on Friday, Oct. 13 at the Center for the Arts, 265 S Cache St., Jackson. The show starts at 5:30. Tickets are $10 for students and $18 for general admission; children under 5 are free.

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