Page 9 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 15, 1989
BY KRISTIN PALM
"T HUNDER and Rain" is the last song on
side one of the newly released cassette by the
Nicaraguan reggae band Soul Vibrations. It is
also the reason for the group's appearance in
Ann Arbor this weekend.
Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast, known as the
Bluefields region, was devastated by Hurricane
Joan last fall. Spurred northward by the crisis,
the group is raising funds for reconstruction of
the area by holding a U.S. benefit tour. The
members of Soul Vibrations also hope to in-
crease awareness about a storm of a different type
by alerting listeners to the suffering of the peo-
ple affected by the Nicaraguan conflict.
Although the music of Soul Vibrations was
around before the revolution, said Neva E.
WVartell, director of the Bluefields Project, the
message they convey has been important to the
continuing struggle in Nicaragua. The Bluefields
Project is one of the groups sponsoring the
band's tour and, said Wartell, was begun as a re-
sult of Soul Vibrations' music.
"It was really the music and my involvement
with the culture that prompted me to start the
group here (in the U.S.)," said Wartell, who was
in Nicaragua conducting music research when
she discovered the band. When she returned, she
Decided to start an organization in the U.S.
which would be involved with the region in
While the band toured the Scandinavian coun-
tries and Canada by invitation, they did not meet
with such luck in the United States. In fact, said
Wartell, because of poor U.S.-Nicaraguan rela-
tions, Soul Vibrations' reception by American
immigration officials was less than hospitable.
"This is a groundbreaking tour. We had a
Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast,
known as the Bluefields region,
was devastated by Hurricane
Joan last fall. Spurred northward
by the crisis, the group is raising
funds for reconstruction of the
area by holding a U.S. benefit
tour. The members of Soul
Vibrations also hope to increase
awareness about a storm of a dif-
ferent type by alerting listeners
to the suffering of the people af-
fected by the Nicaraguan con-
great deal of trouble getting them in with
Immigration and Naturalization Services,"
Wartell said, adding that officials did not want to
issue the type of visas often used by professional
However, she continued, with the support of
several members of Congress and state officials,
music triumphed over politics and the band re-
ceived their visas.
"The INS could not legally create a problem
around political issues," Wartell said.
While Wartell says the band's music has been
integral to the Nicaraguan revolution, she adds
that their Latin-influenced reggae tunes serve a
cultural purpose as well, promoting Black
awareness in an area which has been devoid of
any such movement.
"In other countries in Central America the
Black population has been more widely recog-
nized and integrated... Nicaragua on the Atlantic
Coast has been isolated," Wartell said.
She describes the pre-awareness situation this
way: "It was like Samosa's little Black commu-
nity that he would go and visit once a year and
give gifts to the little Black children," she said.
Now, however, said Wartell, Blacks are being
regarded as a significant faction of Nicaraguan
society and Soul Vibrations plays a role in pro-
moting this new view.
"This is really the first time this region of
Nicaragua is getting any recognition from the
government and any support at all," Wartell said.
"It is a vanguard of a youth movement that is
trying to create awareness in its own community
of its African roots... It is really on the edge of a
SOUL VIBRATIONS will be performing tomor-
row night in the Michigan Union Ballroom.
Doors will open at 9 p.m. Admission is $8 at the
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