Within days of their expected appearance on the 15th of March at SXSW 2017 as part of the re:Freshed line up both United Vibrations and Yussef Kamaal have been denied entry to the US due to the travel ban.
Yussef Kamaal, who are the duo Yussef Dayes and Kamaal Williams (aka Henry Wu), posted the news on Facebook earlier today, saying that “Due to certain members ESTA’s being revoked, United Vibrations and Yussef Kamaal will not be performing at Sxsw. This is clearly a discrimination against race and religion. We apologise to everyone who was coming out to see us perform we were really looking forward to it. Peace and Blessings be upon you all.” The Electronic System For Travel Authorization is what allows travelers to enter the US under the Visa Waiver Program, which allows people from participating countries, such as the UK, to enter without a visa.
Despite the backing from British music industry heavyweights for Jazz re:freshed’s UK SXSW showcase, celebrated featured artists Yussef Kamaal and United Vibrations band members have been barred from US entry. The showcase was set up this year providing a stellar line up of artists from the fast rising British Jazz scene. Featured recently alongside Moses Boyd in our Cover Story feature the news has added to the ongoing controversy surrounding SXSW this year.
The Jazz re:freshed SXSW showcase, had already been hailed as one of the most significant events at the festival this year with support from US radio network NPR who highlighted artists Moses Boyd and Yussef Kamaal in their prestigious artists to watch Austin 100 playlist feature.
— United Vibrations (@UnitedVibration) March 13, 2017
A statement was also published on Jazz re:freshed Facebook page;
Jazz re:freshed Outernational is a 2 year project funded by Arts Council England and curated by Jazz re:freshed with the sole purpose of showcasing the frontline of the UK Jazz revolution around the globe.
We are outraged and appalled at the revocation of 4 previously approved ESTA’s with little more than 48 hours notice. These revocations prevent 4 of our musicians from traveling to and performing at SXSW, one of the largest and most influential global music industry events of the year in Austin, Texas. This has a major impact on 2 of our 4 bands representing the UK – United Vibrations and Yussef Kamaal.
To say we’re devastated for the bands and the audiences who will miss seeing them perform live is an understatement.
We fought to the very end to get these decisions reversed and although not successful, we are still pursuing the matter, so this is all we can say for now. We’ll have more to say tomorrow…