A live-streamed concert from the Marshall Islands Saturday featured top bands in the Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands star Rosie Delmah joining to uplift spirits of Marshall Islanders devastated by coronavirus in the United States.
At Friday’s Nitijela (parliament) session, Foreign Minister Casten Nemra delivered a somber report on the impact of Covid-19 on Marshall Islanders in America. He said at least 83 islanders have died to date from Covid-19 and thousands have been infected with the virus.
The concert offered many up-and-coming young singers, including Boya and TonTon, and Marshall Islands legends, including Laura Settlers and Kabolal. The 12-hour show entertained online viewers with a smorgasbord of the talented local music scene. Judging from the online comments posted as the bands were playing, each one generated delight among the thousands of online viewers.
“We want to reach out to our communities in the US through the ‘Kotak Dron’ concert, to send a message of hope,” said Daniel Kramer, who heads Six9Too Productions, which organized Saturday’s concert broadcast from Majuro. The message of the Marshallese phrase “kotak dron” was about “uplifting” people’s spirits and hopes. That it did a thousand times over.
As Saturday’s Kotak Dron concerned rolled, viewers — ultimately over 30,000 — posted comments in real time. Dozens and dozens of those watching and listening put up comments, things like:
• Oh, that takes me back.
One Marshallese resident in the US, Isaiah Anjolok, posted a shoutout on the Kewan Jela Facebook page earlier this week, commenting: “Kotak dron concert elap an kekajur kem ro ilo likin Majol” (the Kotak Dron concert really gave a boost to those of us living outside Marshall Islands).
“That has been the whole purpose of the event,” said concert organizer Daniel Kramer of the enthusiastic responses that came in from Marshallese living outside. “Expensive medicines and time consuming consultations are designed to cure,” Kramer told the Journal. “Music, concerts, events like these have the power to do the same kind of healing naturally. These events are necessary for society to maintain spirits and good mental heath.
That kind of reaction keeps me motivated to continue to help others heal the best way I can. And I’m lucky to have an awesome team to do it.”
In addition to featuring some of the best talent on the Marshall Islands music scene, the live stream incorporated interviews of musicians with short pre-recorded talks by President David Kabua, church pastors, traditional leaders and doctors speaking to their friends and relatives in America about Covid-19 prevention.
Rev. Palukne Johnny, the President of the United Church of Christ in the Marshall Islands, appealed to islanders in the US to use face masks and follow directives of state and local governments to prevent the spread of the virus.
Photographs of Marshallese living in the US wearing face masks were featured as part of the Covid-19 prevention promotion message delivered during the concert. “I wear a face mask for my bubu and jimma (grandmother and grandfather),” said some of the messages from younger generation Marshallese donning face masks in the US.
A band in the Solomon Islands performed a song specially for the Kotak Dron concert that was interspersed with the Majuro bands during the live stream, demonstrating Six9Too Productions’ ties with musicians around the Pacific.
The Marshall Islands Ministry of Health and Human Services was one of many local and international sponsors of the concert, which gave the ministry the opportunity to get health messages out to people watching the concert.
Performers had been practicing for weeks to get ready for Saturday’s music festival. It showed in the seamless performances on stage.
The 12-hour music gift from the Marshall Islands can be watched on Facebook or YouTube at Six9Too Production’s pages.