“…omnivorous aesthetic tastes and
full-throttle live performances…”
– LA Times
In their fifteen years together as a band, celebrated Los Angeles culture-mashers Ozomatli have gone from being hometown heroes to being named U.S. State Department Cultural Ambassadors.
Ozomatli has always juggled two key identities. They are the voice of their city and they are citizens of the world.
Their music is a notorious urban-Latino-and-beyond collision of hip hop and salsa, dancehall and cumbia, samba and funk, merengue and comparsa, East LA R&B and New Orleans second line, Jamaican ragga and Indian raga\”” has long followed a key mantra: it will take you around the world by taking you around L.A.
Originally formed to play at a Los Angeles labor protest over a decade ago, Ozomatli spent some of their early days participating in everything from earthquake prep “hip hop ghetto plays” at inner-city elementary schools to community activist events, protests, and city fundraisers. Ever since, they have been synonymous with their city: their music has been taken up by both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Clippers, they recorded the street-view travelogue “City of Angels” as a new urban anthem, and they were featured as part of the prominent L.A. figures imaging campaign “We Are 4 L.A.” on NBC, and have the distinction of headlining the Hollywood Bowl twice in 2008 and 2010. In recognition of their efforts towards Los Angeles, the City of Los Angeles has officially declared April 23rd, 2010 as “Ozomatli Day”, as well as every following April 23rd, in perpetuity. Ozomatli were also recipients of the 2010 Local Heroes Award by Los Angeles PBS station KCET-TV, recognizing the band’s longstanding accomplishments and community service throughout Southern California.
The band had long been a favorite of international audiences-playing everywhere from Japan to North Africa and Australia-and their music had always been internationalist in its scope, seamlessly blending and transforming traditions from Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. They were invited by the U.S. State Department to serve as official Cultural Ambassadors on a series of government-sponsored international tours to Asia, Africa, South America, and the Middle East, tours that linked Ozomatli to a tradition of cultural diplomacy that also includes the esteemed likes of Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Louis Armstrong.
Ozomatli were honored to help celebrate the Boston Pops 125th Anniversary, performing songs from the band’s latest release “Fire Away” as well as Ozo classics from their previous discs, accompanied by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In November, Ozomatli made an appearance at TEDxSF \”“ the first musical talk ever given at any TED conference \”“ mixing discussion and sound to explore the challenges and promises of musical identities in a global age.
Ozomatli has spent 17 years working diligently to spread its message of peace, communication and understanding through music, with a long standing tradition of performing for children all over the world, from the schools of North St. Louis to the orphanages of Southeast Asia.