Back in August 2010, Haitian guitarist BélO, along with 23 other musicians around the world, participated in a program sponsored by the State Department. The idea was to promote tolerance of others through the arts. The tour started in D.C. and, while here, he and the group had a chance to visit the Kennedy Center.
"I told my friends that I would someday perform [there]," BélO said. "They didn't believe me, but two years later, I am going to play for the first time at the Kennedy Center to start the Center Stage tour."
Indeed, this socially conscience author, composer, guitarist and singer from earthquake-ravaged Haiti appears with his band on the Millennium Stage on Sunday in what BélO considers a fine opportunity to show a better image of Haiti to American audiences.
"My music is a fusion, just like my country," he continued. "There is the jazz, roots, rock and reggae influence around my Haitian-African heritage. Ragganga is the name of my style ... based on Haitian traditional music mixed with modern rhythms."
|Where: Millennium Stage, Kennedy Center, 2700 F Street NW|
|When: 6 p.m. Sunday|
|Info: Free; 800-444-1324; 202-467-4600; kennedy-center.org|
Along with his ragganga, this multiple award-winning musician is patron of the nonprofit Hope for Haiti, contributor to UNICEF and Volunteers of Development of Haiti, and also a spokesperson for the Haitian Red Cross. As ambassador of Haitian culture, his commitments are to the causes of the less fortunate, the education of children and respect for women. He is equally dedicated to social solidarity, environmental protection and peace in Haiti and around the world. His music speaks volumes on behalf of these causes.
Traveling with BélO for this tour is his bass player, who has been with him from the beginning, and a drummer he has shared the stage with since 2009. The group format features bass, drums, two guitars, congas and BélO himself.
"I have a lot to learn from the U.S.." he said. "As a cultural ambassador of Haiti, I am not a musician by chance. I do music to make a difference."