GREENVILLE — Sometimes the best things in life are free and often unplanned. Such was the case with the Our World Festival held this past weekend, featuring worldwide cultures, many of which can be found in the Upstate.
The festival, now in its second year, brings varying and differing cultures together to highlight their differences and reveal similarities. With that in mind organizers assembled some rarely seen performances along with vendors and international foods as well for the Aug. 6 event.
Attendees could browse for African drums, gems, local honey, clothes and keepsakes in wide varieties while enjoying dishes such as jerk chicken and poutine, a Canadian dish of French fries, gravy, and cheese curd that is surprisingly tasty.
The crowd of about 300 had an entire evening of entertainment as well.
Jazz was the featured music of the evening and was highlighted by an appearance of Kevin Spears, an internationally renowned musician on the kalimba/sanza. According to Spears, he is one of the few players of the kalimba in the world today and was fresh off a tour of Japan where he was featured on the international music magazine/radio program “AfroPop Worldwide.”
Spears wowed the audience with his ethereal sound combined with guitars and other instruments through loop playback all on the instruments he crafted himself. Spears is also known for his collaborative work with Grammy-winning Count M’Butu, percussionist of the Derek Trucks Band in their fusion duo called Rhythm Nomadic.
If Jazz wasn’t your taste, there was a taste of Africa via Brazil to be enjoyed.
A group trained in Caporeia put on a display of fluid motion combined with hand to hand combat. Caporeia was developed in Brazil by what were West Africans in the 16th century.
The art form is known for its quick, complex moves composed of elements of dance, acrobatics, and music when possible. It’s believed the word Caporeia comes from two Tupi words which when combined refer to the area of jungle fugitive slaves would take refuge.
The highlight of the performance was the inclusion of anyone interested in learning with a multitude joining in, especially younger audience members.
Brazil once again was center stage with dance this time, an upbeat tune in accompaniment. The Samba, both a Brazilian music genre and dance style, delighted the crowd and prompted many to join in. The Samba is also of African origin through the West African slave trade and African religious traditions with its ultimate roots in Angola and the Congo.
It is the Samba, both the music and dance, that dominates images of Carnival — much like New Orleans’ own Mardi Gras but on a grander scale — and is widely recognized, especially the dance garb composed of feathers and little else.
Reach D. C. Moody at 864-855-0355.