Seattle’s Latin, Brazilian, and Caribbean Festival Benefits Immigrant Rights

by Gus Marshall

Last weekend Columbia City’s Royal Room hosted The Seattle Latin, Brazilian, and Caribbean Festival for the third consecutive year.

Presented by KEXP and Giordano Productions, with financial assistance provided by 4Culture, the three day festival showcased a variety of musical styles and cultural traditions. The festival is an effort to raise funds and awareness for Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, a non-profit organization that provides legal aid for those affected by deportation, displacement and detainment.

This year’s festival featured an eclectic line up of high-caliber local acts that represented a spectrum of South American, Central American and Spanish culture.

Brazilian vocalist Adriana Giordano is the festivals creator, producer and organizer, and has had success producing numerous events throughout the Pacific Northwest. Giordano has been referred to as a key player in the Northwest’s thriving Brazilian music scene, as well as being featured in Earshot Jazz Magazines June 2015 publication.

Marina Albero plays the piano during the Latin, Brazilian, and Caribbean Music Festival at the Royal Room July 29. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)

Giordano was born in Porto Alegre, a southern city in Brazil, but spent most of her life in Brazil in São Paulo. She left there at 25 and has lived in the United States for the last 27 years. She has been producing shows in the area since 2012.

Adriana Giordano spoke with the South Seattle Emerald about immigration, her cultural background and this year’s Seattle Latin, Brazilian, and Caribbean Festival.

GM: Who are your musical inspirations?

AG: Too many to name but some of the greatest Brazilian composers/vocalists such as Milton Nascimento, Tom Jobim, Elis Regina, Joyce Moreno, Mônica Salmaso, Baden Powell, Hermeto Pascoal, Filó Machado, Caetano Veloso, Chico Buarque, Gilberot Gil, Dominguinhos, Luiz Gonzaga, Seu Jorge, some other South American artists such as Mercedes Sosa, Alfredo Zitarrosa, Carlos Gardel, Piazzola, Joni Mitchell, Pat Metheny, Paul Simon & Garfunkel, Led Zeppelin, Vivaldi, Bach and Debussy.

A member of Otoqui Reyes y Los Hijos de Agueybaná, a Puerto Rican group, at the Seattle Latin, Brazilian, and Caribbean Festival at the Royal Room July 27. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)

GM: How did The Seattle Latin, Brazilian and Caribbean Festival come together?

AG: I was approached by Wayne Horwitz from the Royal Room in late 2015, and he proposed I organize a Latin festival because he felt I was well connected with the Latin community and had already demonstrated the skills to organize a bigger event. I also felt that South Seattle deserved a festival that reflected its cultural diversity.

At first I didn’t know how I was going to fund it, and figured that in addition to charging a cover, I would need to get sponsors to cover all the expenses. That’s when I heard about the 4Culture grants and decided to apply for one. At that point I had decided to include Brazilian and Caribbean culture representations. I reached out to a lot of people locally and got to know a lot of new musicians. It was a ton of work and I had no guarantees that I would get a grant but after a long three-month wait I heard the great news about being awarded the grant.

My grant proposal offered a three-day long festival providing a unique opportunity for people of all ages to experience high quality music and dance performed by people in our community for free. At the time there was no festival dedicated to the music of these sister cultures. Some of our local festivals are too big (Folklife) to showcase this genre or too expensive (Bumbershoot) for many members of our community.

I also envisioned the festival as a way for King County neighbors, resident artists and students to come together for workshops, lectures and live performances. Students would get an opportunity to perform live and collaborate with more experienced artists. I ended up booking 12 acts, over 70 artists including musicians and dancers. We were at capacity on all three nights and I knew then that I wanted to continue to provide my community with this opportunity.

Trish Lopez dances to the music of Los Flacos, during the Latin, Brazilian, and Caribbean Music Festival at the Royal Room July 29. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)

GM: Can you tell me about the fundraising aspect of this event?

AG: This year we are providing the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project a chance to reach out to the whole community for education and fundraising. They will have a representative there with fliers and donation envelopes.

GM: Why do you feel is it important for musicians to use their platform and influence for issues like immigration?

AG: So many of us are immigrants ourselves. I’m an immigrant. My parents were immigrants. Our music is auditory and visual testimony to a real strength in American life. That strength, that richness, has become a target for people who don’t want to acknowledge the contributions of immigrants. Our performance this weekend refutes the escalation of fear and hatred and violence against immigrants we’ve witnessed since 2016.

Los Flacos perform during the Latin, Brazilian, and Caribbean Music Festival at the Royal Room July 29. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)

GM: Do you have any connections to South Seattle?

AG: Yes. I’ve been living in the Mt. Baker neighborhood for seven years and have frequently both performed and produced shows at The Royal Room, Columbia City Theater/Bourbon Bar, Columbia City Beatwalk.

Featured Photo: A member of Otoqui Reyes y Los Hijos de Agueybaná, a Puerto Rican music and dance group, dances off-stage, during the Seattle Latin, Brazilian, and Caribbean Festival at the Royal Room  July 27. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)