Members of Beatbox House, a group of five vocal percussive artists from Brooklyn, will follow in the footsteps of American music legends Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong when they travel abroad as US cultural ambassadors later this month. .
Chris Sellis, Gene Shinozaki, Amit Bowmick, Kenny Urban and Neil Meadows (better known as NaPoM), all beatbox champions, traveled with the State Department to Indonesia and Singapore for a three-week beatbox・Competitions, workshops and collaborations with local musicians.American Music Abroad, an outreach program sponsored by the department’s Office of Education and Culture
A group with tens of thousands of fans, beatbox house creates drum and instrument sounds with stressed speech, distorted singing and lip vibrations. Music covers many genres such as hip hop, EDM, grime, trap, rock and more. The group is also known for their popular cover of the Rednex song “Cotton Eye Joe”.
Beatbox House members have won individual, pair and group competitions and are active in music education activities around New York City. In group workshops, students are introduced not only to basic beatbox sounds, but also to the endless possibilities that the human voice offers for musical expression. Now the group has the opportunity to share the same lessons abroad.
Known for hosting inclusive, community-oriented competitions in the city called Battles, Beatbox House has itineraries that include visits to a number of community centers abroad. Alison Bassi, the cultural officer at the US Embassy in Singapore, said that places beyond bars and concert halls should be “accessible to many different people and slightly different audiences”, not just beatbox enthusiasts. I hope to become
Originally one of the five pillars of hip-hop, beatboxing was brought to Europe by American soldiers in the late 1980s. Since then, there has been a growing appetite for art in Europe and Asia. The international beatbox community is now in the millions. Asia represents much of the recent increase in support and participation. For the Department of State, sending beatbox house musicians abroad marks the first cultural program to recognize musical genres and provides an opportunity to share an art form that is particularly American and extremely popular abroad. .
In an email, Lee Satterfield, Assistant Secretary of State for Education and Culture, said, “We look forward to the participation of American artists in our nation’s diplomacy. In recent years, this mandate has led American Music Abroad to: We’ve cut back on the number of chart-topping artists and partnered with mission-oriented performers like Beatbox House. Diplomacy.”
Of course, there could be a smaller and more intimate scale of security problems in Indonesia, where the group is already popular. “They love us,” Shinozaki said. He said the last time some of its members performed in the country, they had to be escorted from the venue.
Shinozaki, Celiz, and Bhowmick are first-generation Americans with families from Japan, the Philippines, and Bangladesh, respectively. Band of five For her members, playing American-style music in a diverse group epitomizes the spirit of hip-hop, the spirit of democracy, and the best this country has to offer.
“My parents wanted the American Dream,” Sellis said. “I feel like I can live with it. But we’re redefining what that means. Here’s our version.”
Mike Quinlan, a spokesman for the US Embassy in Indonesia, wrote in an email that Beatbox House is the “first choice” for the embassy’s visiting artist program.
“There are a lot of people who are very excited to have them here,” Quinlan said, adding, “Beatbox House is a living example of the diversity of the United States and its music.” .
Some Beatbox House members already have experience in the region, like Mr. Shinozaki from Indonesia. Four years ago, Bhowmick, Meadows and Shinozaki performed in Bangladesh and received a warm welcome, especially from Bhowmick.
“They look up to me,” he said of his Bangladeshi fans. The crowd was just amazing.” A trip with American Music Abroad “would be very like that, if not crazy,” he said.
Bassi pointed out that the biggest beatbox battles in Singapore usually take place in December. However, the contest’s organizers said when members of Beatbox’s House learned she was coming to the country in February, she postponed the contest until then “to bring in a larger audience.” she said.
After visiting Singapore, the group will continue touring in the Philippines and Japan, doing the same community building they do in government programs in their own time. It’s the first time for the five of us to travel to Asia together, so we want to continue as long as possible.
“I’m thrilled to be with my team,” Urban said on behalf of the group, “touring the world.”