For the first time in over thirty years, a music festival produced in partnership between American and Cuban organisers will be taking place in Havana. The inaugural event, titled Musicabana, will be taking place from May 5th-8th, and is slated to be the largest gathering of Cuban performers in a generation, along with international acts locked in to to appear at the four day festival.
In the lead up to the event, electro-trio Major Lazer will be performing at a free concert on March 6th, making them one of the first big-ticket American acts to play in Cuba since the restoration of diplomatic ties between the United States and Cuba just over a year ago.
Taking place at La Tribuna José Martí on Havana’s iconic waterfront in front of the U.S. Embassy, the show will serve as a prelude to Musicabana, which will boast a lineup of over 25 global and local artists, bands and DJs across three venues. As part of the event, Major Lazer will also meet with Cuban music students and share the stage with local up and comers. Inspired by and dedicated to Cuban musical legends Pablo Milanés, Chucho Valdés and Juan Formel, the festival is being produced by Milanés’ Cuban-born, Brooklyn, New York-based son Fabien Pisani.
“Cuba’s music scene is bursting with the same raw talent and energy of decades past,” Pisani remarked. “We are excited and proud to partner with Major Lazer and bring one of America’s top musical talents to Havana this March, helping us launch the Musicabana festival in May. We will make history and build an unprecedented cultural bridge between Cuba, the United States and the rest of the world through the power of music.”
In a press release for the event, Major Lazer’s Diplo was quoted as saying, “For as long as I can remember, Cuba has played an influential role on my love of music — Cuba has such a powerful cultural impact all over the world and for me, especially growing up in Florida, it became one of the biggest cultural centers for music to evolve from… I was lucky enough to visit Cuba a few years back with my friends Calle 13 and during my four days there my mind was blown by the people, depth of culture and their way of life. Going back to perform in 2016 and to be a part of the culture once again is a huge blessing and I couldn’t be more honored to bring the Major Lazer project there.”
Musicabana will be entirely free for the Cuban public, with travel packages and VIP tickets to be made available for international visitors. Announcements regarding the rest of the festival’s lineup are said to be made in the coming weeks and months. When pressed about who else attendees can expect to see, Pisani is reported to have said that “Mick Jagger, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Usher and many other global stars have all recently visited Havana. Whoever hits the stage will significantly relate to our festival’s cultural mission and long term vision. Who wouldn’t want to make history by performing in front of millions of young Cuban fans wanting to reconnect with the world?”