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The Tale of 2Samoas – Our Samoan Jazz Story gets International exposure

Peta Si’ulepa and Jazz Legend Herbie Hancock
Source: International Jazz Day media release

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The 8th Annual International Jazz Day — April 30 this year –– brought together thousands of people worldwide in 195 countries and in every continent to commemorate this special day.

International Jazz Day brings together communities, schools, artists, historians, academics and jazz enthusiasts all over the world to celebrate and learn about jazz and its roots, future and impact; raise awareness of the need for intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding; and reinforce international cooperation and communication.

 The Samoana Jazz & Arts Festival of 2Samoas has spearheaded International Jazz Day celebrations in Samoa and American Samoa annually since 2015 – each year with the theme “A Tale of 2Samoas ~ The Untold Story of Jazz.”

This year as in previous years — both Samoas reaffirmed our Samoan Jazz story with presentations to the LDS Church College, Pesega music students and teachers in Samoa — and with students of the Faculty of Fine Arts, American Samoa Community College in American Samoa. Live performances were staged by local musicians at the Home Café in Apia — and The Oasis in Pago Pago. Samoa also premiered the short documentary on this story — produced by the Chair of Samoana Jazz & Arts Festival, Samoa – Galumalemana Steven Percival.

Recently returned from the Global International Jazz Day Celebrations in Melbourne, Australia as a special guest of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz as panelist on “Jazz Around the World” — Founder and Director of the Samoana Jazz & Arts Festival 2Samoas, Peta Si’ulepa shared with local media that “our Samoan Jazz story was presented to a highly receptive and interested global audience, local jazz enthusiasts and students of Jazz from Australia and the US — who were involved in the Jazz Master Classes held by the musicians prior to the Global IJD Concert.

International participants were really interested to hear of the Samoan Jazz history from the Islands of the Pacific Ocean – and the historical alignments with other countries and world events between World Wars 1 and 2.”

Panelists were representative of all corners of the globe. 

“Being part of the global panel demonstrated through the panelists the scope and breadth of activities happening around the world.” Peta was reminded by both her panel colleagues and the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Herbie Hancock “that no matter how large or small countries are, the determination, consistency and energy displayed by some International Jazz Day organizers to consistently host International Jazz Day events in their communities came to the attention of UNESCO and the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz – hence the invitations to come and share their stories and their activities with the world.

“I’m still reeling from this amazing experience – and I was proud and humbled to carry our Jazz Torch to this global event, Peta said.

The panelists were also invited to the Global All Stars Concert as specialist guests and were each given a special acknowledgement as International Jazz Day organizers by UNESCO Goodwill Jazz Ambassador, Herbie Hancock.

"The purpose of this international event is to show, through the music, the kind of world that we can live in if we work toward those goals, of respecting everybody," he said. "It's about more than being American, or Australian, or any particular group. But it celebrates the cultures of all the groups. This is what jazz really does," reaffirmed Herbie Hancock.