Riff On This: Joel De Souza brings love of music from his home in Africa to Florida

The promoter throws afro-inspired parties and festivals in Orlando

Growing up along West Africa's Ivory Coast, Joel De Souza was rooted in music at a young age.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Growing up in Ivory Coast, a country situated in West Africa, Joel De Souza was rooted in music at a young age.

From the sounds of salsa music that often filled his home to the African melodies played at his father’s lounge, music was a big part of life.

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Joel in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire (Joel De Souza)

After high school, De Souza came to Florida for college. Like most students that move away, De Souza felt homesick, but it was different than what most students experienced.

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International students like De Souza felt a big cultural void, so he decided to do something about it.

“I started doing like little house parties over 20 years ago and that little house party started to get bigger,” De Souza recalled. “I said, ‘OK, well, let’s take the party to an events center or a bigger place,’ and from there we saw the response and it was incredible.”

De Souza went back home to Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire after spending his first year in the United States in college to celebrate his dad's birthday. (Joel De Souza)

The parties were unique, helping international students have a common space with sounds and tastes from back home. These little things, De Souza said, can make someone feel a little more at home while being thousands of miles away.

De Souza was no stranger to event planning watching his parents throw many parties at the lounge.

”I’ve seen that all my life, so it was easy for me to do since I already had the mechanism,” De Souza said.

This applied even more after he graduated from the University of Florida and moved from Gainesville to Orlando.

Hear more about how De Souza has taken what was once a void and turned it into some of the hottest afro-inspired parties in the city and what he hopes to do in the future by listening to Episode 8 of Riff On This.


About the Author:

Emmy Award Winning Meteorologist Samara Cokinos joined the News 6 team in September 2017. In her free time, she loves running and being outside.