By Vania Andre
Like many indicators of black culture, we’ve seen an evolution of Jazz that has led her away from her black roots and closer to the upper echelons of wealth, leaving the depth of her sound to be enjoyed by elite whites, instead of the children of her creators. However for Milena Sandler and Joel Widmaier, Jazz — a genre that was birthed by black communities across the United States — deserves to be enjoyed by everyone, especially by the masses.
Haiti may be the last place that some expect to find an international Jazz festival, however Sandler and Widmaier have been bringing artists from all over the world to Haiti for the past 13 years.
The PAPJAZZ International Festival, which took place from Jan. 19 – Jan. 26, featured more than 20 artists from Haiti to Sweden, all bringing their take of Jazz to Haitians. Cecile McLorin Salvant, a Grammy-award winning Jazz singer born to a Haitian father and Guadeloupian mother; and Joss Stone, a critically-acclaimed and Grammy-award winning artist from Great Britain, headlined the festival.
For many of the festival-goers PAPJAZZ was their first encounter not only with Jazz, but with the likes of Salvant, who has headlined at Lincoln Center and was featured in the New York Times.