It was not until the list of achievements were read, before their performances, that I realized why Wyclef Jean and Will. I.Am were hand selected to end this powerful event into pop and worldly culture: OZY Fusion Fest. These two men have widened their scope beyond music to make political, social, and philanthropic statements throughout the world. They are not simply international superstars, but two human beings that have risen from harsh circumstance to give spiritual empowerment.
I never expected Wyclef Jean to be such a fiery, blazen performer, and its not because of any doubt in his capacity. On the contrary, The Fugees shaped my musical tastes with their first and only studio album: The Score. Yet, I was surprised how forward he is with his political views (Shocker: He does not like Trump! lol!) and how eager he is to connect with audiences on a deeper, spiritual level. In retrospect, it should not be shocking that Wyclef Jean is a people’s performer as he made a bold attempt as Haiti’s presidential seat, which he mentioned. Jean wants people to awaken and rise, in the same ways, he has from both property and a sense of cultural disenfranchisement. It was strangely intriguing to see him go from a Nirvana cover of “Teen Spirit” to dancing with his family to then making a musical speech on the need for racial acceptance/ justice. Moreover, I have never seen an artist play guitar riffs with their TEETH! God Bless Wyclef Jean and his Dentist! Personally, after witnessing the social ease and intellectual ambiance of the OZY Fusion festival, I believe its artists felt encouraged beyond music to reveal their inner persons.
From Chocquibtown to Andra Day, artists did not back down from stating their disappointments with America’s current sociopolitical sphere. Yet, what I loved about the OZY Fusion fest ambiance is that the statements never felt “preachy” and the “atmosphere” never felt anything but relaxed. People had gathered to listen to music and elevated their spirits through the wisdom offered in the panels. Having these bright intellectuals discuss the future of the world and its needed changes, moved the musical acts to equally speak up on cultural issues. Andra Day, for one, dedicated a riveting rendition of Rise Up to what feels like, an insurmountable surge of violence in America’s past few months. People were eager to be open with their fears, and have music alleviated them to feel joy. Hence, Will.I.Am was an excellent choice to end the night.
I said it in my general review, Will.I.Am is richly personable and giving. His panel on the need to better America’s educational system in terms of access and quality was very touching. Also, he has made a huge staple on the tech world because of his involvement with the Apple watch. Thus, seeing him be so sweet and oddly coy compared to his music/ achievements brought a smile to my face. He creates songs that make people want to break free and dance like they are professional choreographers but suffers from performance anxiety. What? Therefore, the fun felt enhanced when you would see him go from shyly reminiscing on his love for his fellow Black Eyed Peas members to rapping about social consciousness. He, too, wants people to feel like the world can be conquered through love and its perseverance. Again, furthering the wise ambiance that OZY Fusion Fest inspired.
Overall, I want to encourage readers to go to OZY Fusion Fest next year. Skip Panorama Festival for one day, July 23, and see these amazing musical acts sprinkled in between socially relevant think tanks. We need to listen, and we need to discuss political issues either through music or simple conversation. OZY Fusion Fest created the space to lovingly do so. Click here to read more about the OZY Fusion Fest.