In an effort to celebrate cultural diversity on the UC Santa Cruz campus, the Cultural Arts and Diversity (CAD) Center sponsored its first annual Spring Musical Blowout. Held June 2, the event spread cultural awareness through entertainment, merging the musical genres of African-style samba, reggae and funk with the timeless tracks of Michael Jackson on a single dance floor.

The Spring Musical Blowout was sponsored by CAD through Measure 49, which provides funding for CAD events, and Stevenson College. The event was held at the Stevenson Event Center from 2 to 6 p.m. and was free and open to the public.

CAD seeks to promote cultural diversity through recruitment efforts, initiating outreach and hosting theater productions among other media-focused events. The Spring Musical Blowout was aimed at addressing the importance of music in the preservation of cultural diversity.

“Music is just another way to outreach and bring people together,” said Karina Mendez, third-year linguistics major and director of Chicano/Latino Production for the Rainbow Theater, which works closely with CAD events. “[Music] is a way of bringing people of different cultures, and even sexualities, together.”

Bringing eclectic and multicultural music genres to the UCSC community, the event featured Santa Cruz–based samba-reggae and funk band Sambada. Members of Sambada include Brazilian natives Papiba Godinho and Dandha Da Hora, who described their music as “drawing from contemporary sounds and styles and blending it with African and Brazilian culture,” according to the band’s website. Members of CAD hoped the event would break down cultural barriers by bringing musical groups and styles throughout the Santa Cruz and Bay Area together, in addition to enhancing the overall diversity of UCSC.

“It [was] a unique experience to listen to music of all different parts of the world,” said Alexandria Love, second-year creative writing and music major and upcoming Chancellor’s Undergraduate Intern Program (CUIP) intern for the 2012–13 school year.

For Love, unfamiliarity with the Afro-Brazilian music styles introduced by Sambada was not an issue. Instead, the event’s focus on the universal language of music highlighted commonalities rather than differences.

“A lot of people associate Africa with images seen on television, or as something that is not part of our remote world,” Love said. “While they have their own customs and their own dances, at the end of the day, music is a universal language and it’s something we all have in common.”

The second band featured at the event was Foreverland, a 14-member Michael Jackson tribute band hoping to unite the audience in tribute to the late pop legend.

“Michael Jackson’s music and following is international,” said CAD director Don Williams. “He brought together people all across the board and showed that we’re all brothers and sisters.”

Williams said CAD intends to hold another Spring Musical Blowout next year to promote a tradition of cultural awareness through music at UCSC.

“The main reason we [did] an event of this nature is because everyone loves music,” Williams said. “Music is a creative form that everyone can attach themselves to. Our part is to be able to create enough diversity where we attract a multitude of people.”