Island Souls brought bouncy reggae beats and a refreshing breath of island culture to Dixie State University.
Artists including Fiji, Bonafide and Sauny J performed at the Burns Arena Friday night. Students and community members of all backgrounds gathered close and let the jams take them away to paradise.
Honolulu Grill sponsored the event, and the concert was a fundraiser for DSU’s Polynesian Club. Vice President Kathleen Tupou, a sophomore CIT major from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., said the concert will help spread the word and help Polynesians get more exposure at DSU.
“People want to see more Poly artists in St. George,” Tupou said.
Tupou said posting fliers for the Island Souls concert around campus helped their culture become more student-centered.
On the contrary, community member Kallie Pettichord said they didn’t advertise enough. She said she only saw fliers in certain restaurants and novelty stores. Pettichord said the music scene is wide-ranged here, but there aren’t many performances to attend.
“If there’s something going on (in St. George), you better go,” Pettichord said.
Sauny J kicked the night off, exciting the crowd. By the time the band was preparing to leave the stage, nearly half of the audience was up and dancing.
Bonafide was the next act. It brought heavy bass and synchronized beats to the arena straight from Jamaica. The band members’ long dreadlocks and big smiles set the mood, and the audience awarded them with an encore.
The headlining band of the night was Fiji, and nearly everyone was standing when it came on stage. People crowded the front of the stage, waving their hands in the air and singing along to Fiji’s smooth, bouncy vocals.
The concert provided a refreshing reminder of what life would be like living in the islands. Tupou said America is so different from her culture, and it’s hard to find balance in life here compared to the islands.
“Our culture has a high-value system,” she said. “In America, you’re more likely to loose your culture.”
Tupou keeps her culture alive in many ways. Lately, it’s especially important for her to wear black. In her culture, after a family member dies, the mourning process includes wearing black every day for a year following the loss. In this case, it was her grandmother. Despite her efforts, she said Polynesians still lose their culture here.
“Every day, we fall short,” Tupou said.
Tupou said one of the main focuses for the Polynesian Club is to also emphasize higher education in the lives on Polynesian Americans.
“We want them to realize the opportunities we have out here,” Tupou said.
The Polynesian Club is already organizing next year’s event.
“Be on the lookout for next year’s event,” Tupou said. “It’s going to blow everybody’s mind.”
The Polynesian Club meets every Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Multicultural/Diversity Center on campus in the bottom floor of the Student Activity Center. They hold history nights and luaus, and they hope to work on more fundraisers. Tupou encourages students from different backgrounds to learn more about their culture.
“We want to see people keep the culture alive here in America,” Tupou said.