The U.S. Embassy Brazzaville hosted a week-long youth empowerment program with visiting ARS hip-hop and slam artist Bruce Sherfield under the theme “My Voice Counts.” During his first visit to Africa, Bruce worked with local singers, rappers, and slammers to promote the use of music to express oneself and to speak for those whose voices are oftentimes unheard. From April 11-20, 2015, Bruce stayed very busy. He spoke at Marien Ngouabi University and Villa Washington English Club about the roots of how hip-hop and its role in American history. He also shared his experience with music managers and hip-hop artists on how to manage their artistic career. Bruce also ran workshops on fundamentals of slam with high school and university students.
On April 18, U.S. Embassy Brazzaville partnered with the French Cultural Center to offer a free hip-hop concert and slam showcase for more than 400 people to mark the end of Bruce Sherfield’s program. Featuring Congolese hip-hop and slam artists and dancers, the concert highlighted the power of art and music to bridge cultures and promotes mutual understanding. Songs and slam pieces echoed the theme, “My Voice Counts,” encouraging youth to positively participate in the development of their communities. Bruce collaborated with the following artists: Eved Sita and his band; and slam artists Black Panther, La Briz, Costa, and Black Demon.
Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan gave remarks during the opening ceremony, where she emphasized the constructive role music played during the independence period in Africa, and highlighted the importance of listening to young people’s voices through different art forms. “I think that slam and other forms of young people’s music are profound means they use to ensure that their voices are heard, including the voices of the voiceless.”