Written by Jonel Juste for Artburst Miami
Billed as the place where Black History Month meets Reggae Month, the Afro-Carib festival, presented by Visit Lauderdale, aims to celebrate the rich cultural heritage that has evolved from a shared bond rooted in African origins.
The third annual Afro-Carib Festival (ACF) is set to showcase a diverse lineup of performers from Caribbean and African countries, Haiti, and South Florida. The event will take place on Saturday, February 25, at the Miramar Regional Park Amphitheater, located at 16801 Miramar Parkway in Miramar, Florida.
Headlining the festival will be Jamaican reggae singer and Grammy Award winner, Koffee. Also performing are Nigerian Afrobeats artists Tekno and Ckay, Cuban reggaeton performer Jacob Forever, and Haitian konpa singer J. Perry. Local figures such as Alexander Star, Yung Wylin, and David Cairol will also take the stage.
According to Miramar Commissioner Alexandra P. Davis, who is the founder and host of the musical event, the month of February presents an opportunity to celebrate both Black History Month and Reggae Month. The festival, which was first introduced in 2020 to honor reggae music during Black History Month, provides an ideal platform to fuse these two celebrations into one spectacle.
“With the advent of Afro Beats”, explains Davis, “African music has become more mainstream, and with Caribbean people who came to the Caribbean as enslaved people from Africa but then created their own sounds and culture, it was just fitting to fuse the two.”
The Miramar commissioner highlights that South Florida is an ideal location for this event due to its diverse cultural makeup.
“South Florida is a melting pot of cultures, and there is no better place to showcase this fact, with the sights, sounds, and tastes of the African and Caribbean Diaspora,” she states.
Local artist Alexander Star agrees with this sentiment, saying, “In all my travels, I have yet to experience somewhere quite as culturally diverse as SoFlo. Do I even need to mention the weather? The food? The style? People from around the world save up all year to vacation where we reside.”
“This place is magical, and the music this festival is about to highlight is exactly what visitors need to experience on their trip,” adds the former Miramar resident and Emmy-nominated songwriter and performer whose music is featured in Super Bowl campaigns.
This year’s festival marks the second edition of the event, after it was canceled last year due to the pandemic. The festival is typically held in Miramar, which is the largest Black and Brown city in Broward County, as emphasized by Commissioner Davis.
“The City of Miramar is a very culturally diverse community with folks from all over the Caribbean as well as the US. I wanted to capture our vibrant culture in one big festival. It would also be the only festival of its kind in Broward County that was in the western suburbs instead of by the beaches.”
The event brings together various genres of music from the African and Caribbean diaspora, with many of them having their roots in reggae music.
Festivalgoers, announce the organizers, can look forward to enjoying live performances by talented artists representing a variety of musical genres from the Caribbean and African Diaspora, including but not limited to reggae, Afrobeats, Afropop, konpa, reggaeton, salsa, and more.
The festival founder believes that music, instruments, and dance are essential components of the African and Caribbean cultures and heritage that form the roots of many festivalgoers.
“When you listen to the lyrics of these artists and feel the rhythm of the Afro-Reggae-inspired beat, it resonates deep within the soul, and it is what we want to bring to this celebration of our multi diverse community in Miramar,” Davis indicates.
One of the performers, J. Perry (born Jonathan Perry), opines that uniting different cultures is a great initiative. He sees Afro-music as a means of opening doors for Caribbean music and hopes that Caribbean music can spread in the same way African music has globally.
“We are one Caribbean, and to connect the Caribbean and the Afro is fire,” enthuses the Haitian hitmaker, who achieved international recognition for his first single “Dekole” when ESPN selected the Brazilian interpretation of the song by Claudia Leitte and J. Perry for their 2014 World Cup broadcasts.
Local artist Yung Wylin expressed that the festival is an opportunity for the community to celebrate the unique diversity that South Florida has to offer. “So many cultures, mixing and vibing in one place,” he says.
Among the headliners of the event, Jamaican Koffee (born Mikayla Victoria Simpson) will bring her personal approach to reggae and her message of peace and love. Mostly known for her runaway hit “Toast”, she was at 18 the youngest and first female reggae artist to win a Grammy for Best Reggae Album.
Also headlining, the self-proclaimed Afropop King and Nigerian-born singer, songwriter, and producer Tekno (born Augustine Miles Kelechi Okechukwu). Tekno has been making waves in the digital and radio airwaves since the release of his international hit “Pana” in 2016. Currently based in the United States, he spreads positive vibes through his music, which blends Afrobeats and Afropop genres.
Finally, Grammy-nominated Cuban-born Jacob Forever, known for his artistic diversity between bachata, urban, and reggaeton, will grace the festival stage. Using fusions of rap and reggaeton, he has collaborated with international artists such as Farruko, Pitbull, Thalia, Enrique Iglesias, De La Ghetto, and Nacho, among others.