United States Arts Envoy Bobby Ricketts Empowers Cameroon Musicians
American jazz musician Bobby Ricketts spent one week in Yaounde, Cameroon from June 28 through July 4, 2015 in which he offered skills-improvement workshops to 80 local musicians, performed for the general public on Tuesday, June 30 at O’Maeva Club; and on July 2nd , during the American Independence Day celebration, he performed for 1000 guests in attendance at the U.S. Embassy.
During Ambassador Michael S. Hoza’s Fourth of July reception, held on July 2, 2015, Bobby Ricketts offered a feature performance with the University of Buea choir and with Cameroonian jazz musicians Ruben Binam’s Kemit 8 Band and Larry Fon’s O’Maeva band. “We are proud to welcome Bobby Ricketts – a true jazz ambassador of international renown – to Cameroon to strengthen the partnership between American and Cameroonian jazz musicians. The music of jazz is truly universal as it transcends languages and cultures. Bobby Ricketts’ visit also comes on the eve of our American Independence Day celebration, and his performance delighted over 750 guests who joined us for the most special occasion of the year in the American diplomatic calendar.”
Bobby Ricketts noted: “I am proud to visit Cameroon for the first time to meet new musical partners and learn from their talent and expertise in the genre of jazz. Cameroon is renowned for its musical diversity which has influenced jazz in the United States itself. Promoting cultural exchanges and mutual understanding through jazz is essential to strengthen the partnership of American musicians like myself with local artists. We thank the U.S. Department of State’s Arts Envoys Program, Ambassador Hoza, and our Cameroonian partners for their support this year.”
Bobby Ricketts is an American saxophonist from Boston, Massachusetts based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Through numerous artistic collaborations, his reputation has spread throughout the United States of America, Scandinavia, Europe, Japan and the African continent. Bobby has made multiple trips to Tanzania, Zambia, and Nigeria previously, holding workshops and performances to inspire and raise the level of local musicianship.
The roots of jazz originated in Africa and inspired Americans to create this unique sound which is celebrated in many nations today. Americans and citizens throughout the world celebrate the sound of jazz as both a historical and a living treasure. Jazz Appreciation Month is held every April, during which time the U.S. Embassy welcomed the American Paris-based Joan Minor Jazz Band for a series of programs with the French Institute, Cameroonian partners, and a concert at the Ambassador’s residence. April is also the birth month of a number of leading figures in jazz: Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Bessie Smith, Johnny Dodds, Billie Holiday, Charles Mingus, Lionel Hampton, Gerry Mulligan, Shorty Rogers, Tito Puente, and Herbie Hancock.
The Arts Envoy Program, sponsor of Bobby Rickets trip in Cameroon, shares the best of the U.S. arts community with the world to foster cross-cultural understanding and collaboration and to demonstrate shared values and aspirations. American arts professionals– including performing artists, visual artists, poets, playwrights, theatrical and film directors, curators, and others– travel overseas to conduct workshops, give performances, and mentor young people. Programs seek to connect with international publics who might not otherwise have the opportunity to engage with American arts professionals.