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Haiti will open its arms wide and with a beaming, broad, bright smile welcome Ophelia Olivaccé Marie, Dominica's Lady of Song, as well as other Caribbean artistes, at the 2015 edition of CARIFESTA in mid-August.

"To me it's a vote of confidence. It is a call to serve at a different level," Ophelia told the Sun in an email interview this week.

CARIFESTA, the Caribbean Festival of Arts, "celebrates diversity and similarity; talent and brotherhood," the CARICOM Secretariat stated in a release.

"It gives artistes the opportunity to discuss, share experiences, learn from one another and share their knowledge and traditions".

Activities for CARIFESTA XII will be held in five cities across Haiti: Port-au-Prince, Jacmel, Cap-Haitian, Gonaives, and Cayes from 21st to 30th August, 2015.

The Festival features all disciplines: dance, cuisine, fashion, cinema, visual arts, literature, music, theatre, arts and crafts.

As she prepares to perform at CARIFESTA XII, Ophelia's experience, talent, style and command of Kreyol give the singer special advantages; although she will be performing in Haiti for the first time.

"I plan to give of my best to the gathering. Haitians understand Kreyol and Cadence-lypso is a genre to which Haitian music has contributed. So I have a strong basis on which to stand, so to speak", Ophelia said. "I have never been to Haiti. There were five earlier occasions that got cancelled by unrest and by flood and earthquake. (I guess) nothing (happens) before its time".

Having represented Dominica at CARIFESTA in Barbados in 1981 and Trinidad and Tobago in 1995 and 2006, Ophelia says she understands the significance of the Festival to the development of the One Caribbean dream.

"The Festival is an eye opener for those who do not comprehend how much we are one community with similar ideologies, customs and self- expression. We are bound by those commonalities", she said. "Differences constitute value added strength. All of this is what comes through at CARIFESTA. The artistes are ready for CARICOM and demonstrate it at every CARIFESTA. People should take note and get on board".


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