For the seventh straight year, CHAT presented its annual Hmong Arts and Music Festival. This annual event has given Hmong artists the opportunity to showcase their artistic talent while letting others explore arts they may have often ignored. Whether you were there to listen to music, enjoy the many styles of dance, bob your head to rap music, look at the amazing display of paintings, feel the passion of the spoken word, laugh out loud, seek out new fashion, or realize there’s more to cake then cake itself, there was a little something for everyone. Every art conceivable seemed to be represented.
The theme of this year’s event was Hmongland, which asked festival goers for their interpretation of where Hmong come from. These interpretations could be found on the many hand made flags that were waving throughout Sculpture Park. Other possible answers to this question could also be found via the paintings that surrounded the performance stage, or on the cakes being designed in the cake decorating contest. Each display provided a unique design to offer an explanation to where Hmong come from. No one display more accurate then the other, just artistic interpretations.
After walking around Sculpture Park a few times we made our way to the main stage where many diverse performers shared their talent with the crowd assembled. The Chattetes opened things up by singing the Hmong Anthem. From there, WangSue Lee strummed on the Hmong violin, which was followed up by the solo vocalist Logan Moua, who played guitar and sang songs in both Hmong and Thai. Fashion designer Oskar Ly and Bugfy brought their own flare to the main stage as they showed why they are former InSession finalists.
The Qaib Dib Qeej players mixed things up by not only playing their instruments the traditional way, but also bringing in a break dancing element to their performance. How they were able to do both, I don’t know, but they greatly impressed me. Not to be outdone, Popper-Razi pop blocked their way into the hearts of the many young ladies in attendance. After a few hiccups with the sound system, the ladies of Niam Nkauj Ntsuab Dance Company went old school and presented classical Hmong dance.
Hip Hop made its presence known with bang as Post Nomadic Syndrome hit the stage showing that they are the 2008 version of Lauryn Hill and The Refuees as they spit rhymes about justice and equality. Hmoodle’s All Access Artist of the Month, Tsis K went on to perform two songs off his recent album and continued to make a fan out of me. Fres of IIIego Aliens and Spade 1 continued the onslaught of rap performances as did Funytown Funktions, which we were only able to see a bit their routine, but we did enjoy what were able to observe.
In what is becoming a staple of this event, the 3rd annual InSession singer/songwriter competition was up. According to the program, “InSesssion strives to discover fresh emerging artists, building a community amongst musicians, network and nurture the potential of musicians to become successful. We desire to expose and challenge musicians for originality, inspiration, and innovation.” This year’s finalists were Tou M. Yang, Briana Heu, Sarah Yang, Thomas Yang, and Yer Vang. Each artist should be commended for accepting the challenge of writing and creating a song that is their very own. Not only should they be commended for that, but we should also praise them for the willingness to perform their songs and let themselves be judged. In the end, judges Alex Lubet (composer), Danny Her (formerly of Soul Gambler), Tousue Vang (singer/songwriters), and Oskar Ly (2006 InSession Winner) declared Sarah Yang 2008’s InSession winner. We at Hmoodle would like to congratulate all the finalists in this year’s competition.
CHAT’s Arts and Music Festival continues to bring the community together after seven years. If CHAT hadn’t taken the initiative of creating an event like this, where would these emerging artists showcase their talent? Myspace can only take you so far. Not only does this event benefit the artists themselves, but also those who may not have the talent, but certainly enjoy being witness to those who do.
I need to thank Xiongpao and TouSaiko of CHAT for urging Hmoodle to attend this event. We had a great time and look forward to being more involved next year. Hmoodle made it priority to meet and greet with every artist that we possibly could. I hope we didn’t miss too many. If so, please don’t be shy and reach out to us.
If you have any questions or comments about this article or have event you’d like Hmoodle to attend than please email me at [email protected]