Guyanese Creole rock singer Gavin Mendonca didn’t disappoint when he took the opportunity to teach a group of North Carolina kids the popular folk song “Small Days” at the Ethno USA festival. With vigor and rhythm, led by Gavin, who is on a mission to share Guyanese folk music and culture with the world, the children delivered an amazing performance at the LEAF Festival in North Carolina.
Gavin said he was thrilled at the opportunity to not only teach children the song, which tells the story of a Guyanese childhood journey, but to represent and showcase the country’s culture. In the midst of all this, he was also able to share his vision of folk songs with peers from different countries and participate in several musical workshops.
“The past two weeks have been absolutely amazing and transformative for me. I’ve had the opportunity to live and make music with musicians from 10 different countries,” he said.
The singer who has given himself the mission of “folk up the place”, said he was proud to have this avenue to represent Guyana and he will continue to preserve the folk songs of our country rich in culture and history.
The Ethno Festival is a global platform where musicians engage in peer-to-peer teachings of the music of their country and culture. Ethno USA 2022 featured musicians from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chad, Chile, Denmark, Estonia, Guyana, India, Italy/Netherlands, Jordan, Poland /Uruguay, Portugal, Sweden, the Hopi nation and the United States. The event took place in the mountains of western North Carolina from October 11-23.
At the end of the teachings and workshops between peers, the participants presented a great cultural spectacle to the audience of the Festival de la Feuille.
Each Ethno Music Camp combines workshops, jam sessions, rehearsals and performances that allow participants to develop personal and professional skills. Thanks to Ethno, musicians gain a better understanding of each other’s cultures. At Ethno, music is a powerful tool that promotes inclusion, understanding and acceptance.
According to the Ethno’s USA website, the festival is a JM International program for folk, world and traditional music. JM was founded in Brussels, Belgium in 1945 by a group of compassionate musicians and organizers who saw music as a way to bring young people together to overcome the divide created by World War II.
The festival, founded in 1990, targets young musicians (up to the age of 30) with a mission to revive and keep alive the world’s cultural heritage.
Present today in more than 40 countries and on six continents, Ethno engages young people through a series of annual international music camps as well as workshops, concerts and tours, in collaboration with schools, conservatories and other youth groups to promote peace, tolerance and understanding, the website said. He added that at the heart of Ethno is its democratic peer-to-peer learning approach whereby young people teach each other the music of their country and culture. It is a non-formal pedagogy that has been refined over the past 32 years, embracing the principles of intercultural dialogue and understanding.
“Ethno offers a unique opportunity for young people around the world to come together and engage through music in a way characterized by respect, generosity and openness,” the website states.
Ethno’s goal is to inspire musicians through these interactions to deepen their musical interests and build a global network that supports their careers.