The Liberia National Tourism Association (LINTA) partnered with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) this year to celebrate “International Jazz Day 2019” in Liberia.
Celebrated annually on April 30, International Jazz Day was declared by UNESCO in 2011 as a day “to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe.” The idea came from the legendary jazz pianist and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Herbie Hancock. Jazz Day is chaired by Hancock and the UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay. The celebration is recognized on the calendars of both UNESCO and the United Nations.
The Liberia edition of International Jazz Day 2019, which took place Tuesday, April 30 at the Living Room, Royal Grand Hotel, in Sinkor, Monrovia, was a special unique evening full of jazz, accompanied by the beautiful stylings of Liberia’s own The Afrik Collective band. The event also featured a special appearance from the Liberia Poet Society.
According to UNESCO, the 2019 edition of International Jazz Day was officially launched in Australia and celebrated in more than 190 countries around the world, including Liberia.
Thousands of other programmes all over the world celebrated jazz as a universal language of peace, among them jazz-themed films, lectures, book readings, theatre performances and panel discussions, as well as jam sessions, master classes, and radio and television broadcasts. As in previous years, a majority of International Jazz Day partner activities focussed on education and community impact, benefitting millions of students, academics, professional musicians and music lovers everywhere.
Established by the General Conference of UNESCO in 2011 at the initiative of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock, and recognized by the United Nations General Assembly, International Jazz Day brings together countries and communities worldwide every 30 April to celebrate the art of jazz, highlighting its important role in encouraging dialogue, combating discrimination and promoting human dignity. The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz is UNESCO’s official partner in the organization and promotion of International Jazz Day.
One of the last notable celebrations of International Jazz day in Liberia was in 2014 at the American Embassy in Monrovia, where, “the reputable International Music House Sound crew of venerable or ‘Old-hand’ in the business of music, Amb. David Daniels, a man who has received many accolades for promoting music in the country, performed to the admiration of the audience,” according to veteran journalist Philip N. Wesseh, who wrote about the event.
“In dedicating a special music to President Sirleaf, Amb Daniels spoke of how the ‘High Life’ music started from Liberia and was later carried to Ghana and Nigeria,” Wesseh wrote. “Although the occasion was all about playing jazz music, I was touched and took note of the brief remarks of Amb Daniels on the issue that ‘High Life’ music became popular in Ghana many years ago, to an extent that some people believed that it was from Ghana that High Life music originated from.”
Elsewhere on the African continent, Dandora HIP HOP City, Kenya held a Jazz Street Festival on Monday, April 29, showcasing an infusion of hip hop, old school and new, to the harmonies of jazz instrumentals. This fun-filled day provided a perfect platform for local artists, family and friends to mingle and sample some of the products, including artworks, music, fashion, food stuffs among others on display.
UNESCO has already announced that the City of Cape Town, South Africa, has been named host of the 2020 International Jazz Day.