Sunday 27 September, 2020

Ashanti, Machel Montano to headline Play it Out concert in Antigua

Soca king Machel Montano and Grammy-award winning singer Ashanti during T&T's Carnival parade.

Soca king Machel Montano and Grammy-award winning singer Ashanti during T&T's Carnival parade.

Machel Montano and Ashanti will headline a concert in Antigua and Barbuda aimed at raising awareness about plastic pollution.

The Play it Out concert was officially launched at the United Nations on Tuesday.

Hosted by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, and sponsored by the Government of Norway, the festival will see musicians and artists from around the world come together with policy leaders, innovators, and celebrity guests, to help ‘ring the closing bell’ on plastic use.

Speaking at a press conference in New York, President of the UN General Assembly, María Fernanda Espinosa said the campaign is two-fold, to raise awareness globally and introduce change at the UN headquarters.

She said the concert reflects the first part of the campaign and is aimed at raising awareness and educating people globally.

 “Plastic pollution must be tackled from all angles; through clean up campaigns for sure, but also through more sustainable consumption and production. For that to happen, consumers and producers must learn about alternatives and what they can do – weather on the supply chain or in the checkout line, to reduce the amount of plastics that are ending in our oceans, in our rivers, in our mountains, in our wildlife and in ourselves,” she said.

Minister of Environment of Antigua and Barbuda, Molwyn Joseph said his country “was the first country in the Latin America and the Caribbean to enact strong legislation on the ban on single-use plastic and Styrofoam. Several other Caribbean islands have since done the same. In Antigua and Barbuda, the import of these items is prohibited by law.”

The minister urged for immediate action, adding: “If we don’t act now, there could be more plastic that fish in the oceans by 2050. Marine debris is not an ocean’s problem. It is a people’s problem. We created a problem, we must find a solution.”

Mona Juul, the Permanent Representative for Norway, said small island states like Antigua and Barbuda are directly affected by environmental changes.

“I am incredibly thankful that Antigua and Barbuda will host this Play it Out event, it will highlight not only the problems but more importantly how we can prevent marine litter,” she said.

Ashanti, a US Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, and actress, who recorded her first soca, “The Road” with Montano this past Carnival, said after spending time at the beach recently in St Maarten, the news about the plastic pollution in the ocean is disheartening. 

“I want to be a part of something that’s going to change, you know, I think music is awesome, but to be able to change lives and to be a part of something that is going to change our future and the future for our children, I think it is pretty cool.”  

The singer will headline the concert set for June 1 at the Sir Vivian Richards National Stadium in Antigua.

Organisers expect to see an audience of up to 20,000 people attend live. The event will be also live-streamed globally.

Along with Ashanti and Montano, the concert will include American indie-rock band St. Lucia; Bomba Estéreo, an electric-duo hailing from Colombia; Nico & Vinz, an R&B act from Norway; Rocky Dawuni, Ghana’s premiere reggae artist and UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador; and Grammy-nominated German DJ/producer Robin Schulz.

The event will also feature top local artists including Ricardo Drue and Claudette Peters. Antigua’s Kanneh-Masons, who recently performed at the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle, will also perform.

Additionally, the concert will feature an array of speakers including dignitaries, policymakers, celebrities, and representatives from the scientific, philanthropic and academic communities. This includes actor, co-founder of Lonely Whale, and UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador, Adrian Grenier.

The ‘Play it Out’ concert is part of the Campaign Against Plastic Pollution, launched by the President of the UN General Assembly in December of 2018, and is aimed at tackling plastic waste both on the global level as well as within the UN itself.

Other campaign supporters include the Government of Monaco, the Government of Qatar, UN Environment, UNOPS, TKG | The Krim Group, and Lonely Whale.

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