A NUMBER of St. Lucia’s finest artists will represent the island in grand style as special guests at the anniversary celebrations of one of the UK’s most prestigious summer festivals.
Through Saint Lucia’s Trade Export Promotion Agency (TEPA), a delegation of 15 artists on Tuesday left for the United Kingdom to perform as special featured guests at the Burton Agnes Jazz and Blues Festival.
Among those heading to the big stage are Chrycee, Dynamix Band, the Rupert Lay Quartet and Claudia Edward.
The event, which takes place annually in East Yorkshire, will be celebrating its tenth anniversary from June 30 to July 2.
The announcement was made during a press briefing on Tuesday morning at TEPA’s Conference Room at Hewanorra House.
Hyde Constantine-Felix, Client Manager serving the Creative Industries and Latin America, said it was an exciting time for TEPA, as well as exporters in St. Lucia, as they venture into a new market.
“Even with the changes on the global stage, TEPA continues to try to be relevant, open to new ideas, customer-focused and to move our exporters into new areas,” Constantine-Felix said.
Senior Client Manager responsible for the United Kingdom and the European Market at TEPA, Andrena Simon, gave a brief history of the UK Festival, as well as TEPA’s participation in the event. She said the initiative is a way to expand the reach of their products and services.
Simon said: “The island’s showcase during the festival will promote cultural exchange through performing arts, music performance and a celebration of St. Lucia’s heritage through cuisine and fine arts.”
The British event has been lauded as one of the best small jazz festivals in the UK by the Times, the Independent National Newspaper in the UK, as it draws people from all over the country by thousands.
Simon said organisers of the event wanted to inject new ideas into the event, and with St. Lucia being home to the internationally acclaimed St. Lucia Jazz Festival, it was an easy choice for the island to be picked to be specially featured.
She said there are also plans to offer St. Lucian food, rum cocktails and an exhibition of works by St. Lucian artists in the Elizabeth Stately Home Gallery for the duration of the summer.
On the other hand, with the St. Lucia Jazz Festival being discontinued and replaced by the Soleil Summer Music Festival, the question was posed as to whether the rebranding of the internationally-acclaimed festival will help or hinder the chances of such opportunities in the future.
Simon said: “From a TEPA perspective, our mandate is going out there looking for opportunities for our artistes, regardless of the platform or what the jazz festival is, isn’t or is going to be. Our mandate is to go out there and look for opportunities for our artists to showcase their talents. So the more opportunities they get, it could only enhance them as artists.”
She said the rebranding will serve to get local artists better prepared to represent St. Lucia here, especially at home festivals.
Following up on the words stated by Simon, songstress Claudia Edward said from a musician’s perspective, she thinks the new format can definitely work, but just needs to be given some time.
Edwards said: “It is an opportunity that can have all musicians in St. Lucia’s different genres of music be identified. So now you don’t just have a jazz festival where the same artists get the gigs all the time. Now you have a festival with reggae, you have with country and blues, you have with soul. So I think musicians are now able to fit into the festival that they deem best for their choice and style of music.”
During the briefing, the artists present expressed their gratitude for being chosen to represent the island and vowed to give their all on the big stage and making St. Lucia proud.