Hampton couple wants to highlight cultural roots at the country’s largest ska festival
Organizers of the country’s largest ska music festival hope their biggest show to date will continue to connect generations, spread cultural awareness and build community in their Hampton homebase.
“We live here, we want our community to be enriched by this,” said April Receveur.
She and husband Tim are the progenitors of Supernova International Ska Festival, which has grown from what was supposed to be a one-off house show in 2013 to this year’s multi-day concert at Fort Monroe’s Patton Street Park from September 15 to 17.
“I think we overdid it this time,” Tim said of the nearly 40-act lineup. “I hope people enjoy it because there’s some bands that you’ll probably never see again on the East Coast like the Untouchables - they haven’t been here since UB40 in the mid 80s.”
After forming Supernova around Fredericksburg, it moved with the Receveurs to Hampton in 2018 with plans to re-debut the event in 2020. It was delayed to 2021 because of the pandemic, so 2023 will mark the second year the festival has been held at its new Fort Monroe abode.
“I think when people got here in 2021, they saw where we were and the space at Fort Monroe and Hampton and they were like ‘Oh my God, this is pretty incredible,’” Tim said.
Hampton Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Yuri Milligan said 2021’s show saw about 2,000 attendees from at least 36 different states and countries. Nearly three quarters of those people stayed in local hotels or short-term rentals.
With many attendees coming from abroad, the Receveurs hope they can continue to grow support around Hampton and complement other events like Hampton’s All Day Reggae Festival the week prior.
“Music is a great way to bring people together that would otherwise not be in the same room,” April said. “It’s a wonderful way to build your community.”
The Receveurs became ska fans while in Japan in the early 1990s during the peak of its popularity. Ska originated in Jamaica by blending Caribbean mento and calypso sounds with newly introduced American jazz music in the late 1950s.
Just as ska’s genesis came from international and cross-cultural mingling, the music further transformed as it jumped to the U.K. and U.S. as well as Latin America, Asia and beyond.
Tim and April try to showcase the full breadth of the genre to Hampton residents and visitors at Supernova, but said it’s important not to overlook where it all started.
“Some of the bigger [artists] died young in their 50s and 60s and they didn’t get to see any of that revival in the 90s,” Tim said. “It’s kind of fun to be able to bring them into our orbit and take care of them and get them [on] that stage and get them that huge applause.”
This year’s festival brings a world’s fair vibe to Hampton, with a village of cultural pavilions highlighting Jamaica, England, El Salvador and Japan - all of which are also represented in the lineup.
Also sending a delegation is the Jamaica Ministry of Culture, an important part of the Receveurs’ goal in exposing new generations to the genre’s roots.
In addition to many volunteers, Supernova is partnered with nonprofit Americans for the Arts. Strategic Communications Vice President Mariaesmeralda Paguaga said the event’s ability to bring people of various ages and origins together in Hampton is what drives the organization’s support.
“Supernova exemplifies the true social, cultural, educational and economic powers of the arts in its fullest splendor,” Paguaga said.