Musician Daniel Levi Viinalass: multiculturalism is an asset that contributes to personal development in every conceivable way
Well-known musician and songwriter Daniel Levi Viinalass performed at the meet-up of young people of Estonian origin, held in Tallinn on 29 June. He shared his thoughts on being an Estonian, living abroad and music. Obviously, he also performed his songs!
On 29 June, the Coca-Cola Plaza Apollo cinema hosted a meet-up for young Estonians living abroad. Judging by the laughter and audience engagement, the highlight of the event was a meeting with musician Daniel Levi Viinalass, who told the story of how he moved to Estonia from the United States and performed his catchy songs.
Daniel was born in Columbus, Ohio, to and Estonian father and an American mother. While he does remember a community of Estonians who met regularly from his childhood, his link with Estonia became considerably stronger when he started school in Estonia. “I remember there was no adjustment period, I was enrolled in school immediately. I didn’t speak any Estonian back then and since other pupils were also young, they didn’t speak any English. So for the first weeks, I carried a notepad and markers, and I drew pictures to communicate with my classmates. I was so keen to talk to them that I didn’t let the language barrier get in the way, and used images instead,” the musician remembered.
When Daniel is asked how he positions himself as someone who grew up in a multicultural family, he says it is definitely an asset that contributes to personal growth in every way, yet depending on the company and the event, his identity can fluctuate. “At the song festival I always think I am and remain and Estonian,” Levi smiles, quoting and singing the lyrics of a popular Estonian song, adding that he still loves celebrating Independence Day on the fourth of July with his family and friends. Independence Day and Thanksgiving are an annual tradition that brings Daniel’s family together.
Coming back to the topic of the song festival, Daniel notes that Estonia’s patriotic songs are the most beautiful in the world and the song festival is an event that unites people – he has sung on the song festival stage with his brothers and father. “The beauty of participating in and attending the song festival is that you start to appreciate the story of Estonians in a different way – where we come from and where we hope to arrive.”
In Daniel’s view, music is key to preserving the Estonian cultural identity. “Make playlists with your favourite Estonian artists and keep an eye on their works. Music is always telling a story. If you are following what is happening in music, it could reflect what is happening in Estonia. Listen to music,” was his main advice.
Listen to Daniel Levi’s music here:
Mu koju tood sa (with lyrics): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzwBig5sVyA