HELD on Sunday February 5, at the tail end of the 2017 Nobel Laureate Festival, the second edition of the Vieux Fort Nobel Laureate Literary Night was an event of high quality that definitely met the goals of the organizers: that of staging activities in Vieux Fort to match national calendar events that meet and exceed international standards.
In terms of performances, songstress and pianist, Shan Lucien, accompanying her singing on keyboards, displayed the exquisite talent that has made her a multiple Youth-Fest award-wining artistes. Not to be outdone, songstress, Omega Alexander, thrilled the audience with her signature cover of SesseneDescarte’s “Ė Oui Sa Vwé”, forcing the audience to demand an “encore” to which she gladly submitted. Arguably, the performances of these two young ladies represented just about the best singing on offer on the island.
Vladimir Lucien’s poetry reading, which brought joy and laughter to the audience, explained why his debut collection of poetry, Sounding Ground, was the winner of the Caribbean’s major literary prize for English literature, the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, making him the youngest ever winner of the prize, and pronouncing him a rising star in Caribbean literature.
Dressed all in black like a black panther but no way as menacing, teen dancer, Kermani Richard of the MOS Dance Group, gave a lithe, sublime, fluid, poetic dance, that defied bodily limitations, and that left the audience gasping in disbelief. Another teen, steelpan soloist and arranger, Mc. Allister Hunt, unveiled a couple of his recent pan compositions that both entertained and inspired.
Seyans, Vieux Fort’s very own folk choir, enchanted the audience with several songs, while the District Representative of Vieux Fort North and former Minister of Agriculture, Moses “Musa” Jn Baptiste, thrilled the audience with a mixer of poetry, drumming, folk story telling that reminded and educated the audience of authentic folk culture, the way it used to be in the days of no television, internet, and rural electricity, when wakes were truly cultural expressions.
The audience was also thrilled by a quartet of dancehall, hip-hop and reggae artistes, including the smooth operator, hip hop artiste Oswald “OZ” Montoute; Adrian “Drii Notes” Klien, multiple Caribbean Youthfest award winner, winner of the 2014 National Arts Festival People’s Choice poetry award, and second place winner of the 2013 Word Alive Poetry Festival; Alleyne “Ally Kyatt” Collymore, considered a folk hero, a cult figure, and St. Lucia’s dancehall king, whose lyrics present a compelling brew of creole, comedy, and grassroots culture; and Sylvester “Itoobaa” Peter, the veteran multiple award-wining reggae artiste, who entertained with his reggae composition, Do Good in Your Neighbourhood, a cogent and timely song, given the recent spate of murders and rapes plaguing the country.
Notwithstanding the performances, perhaps the highlight of the evening was the presentation of the inaugural Jako Prize, established by Jako Productions, and awarded to a Vieux Fort artiste (author, visual artist, musician, drama, dance, fashion) who has produced the most compelling art during (preferably) the previous year. The nominees for the award included Sherwin “Dupes” Brice (music), Edward Harris (literature), Janice Samuel (visual art), and Imani Models (fashion/performance art).
Brice has continued to pleasantly surprise and impress with a string of compelling songs (accompanied with music videos) culminating in his debut album, 3D. Businessman and writer, Harris, has published over 400 newspaper and magazine articles and his latest book, Winning Strategies for Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, was published in December last year. Samuel is a string art artist who employs strings and such local woods as mahogany, blue mahaut and laurier cannel to create exquisite and original pieces of art that have won her several M&C fine arts awards. Her latest works include Map of St Lucia, created as a gift for the mayor of Vauclin, Martinique, highlighting the Maria Islets, St. Lucian beaches and Vieux Fort’s fishing community.
Founded in 1993, and led by UrmainGray, Imani Models is one of the island’s premiere and oldest modelling agencies which both designs and models fashion. Their models have graced the catwalk of fashion shows across the island and were regular performers at the St. Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival’s Hot Couture fashion show. Last year and running into this year they performed at the Vieux Fort Street Theatre, Arts, and Cultural Exposé, Caribbean YouthFest, Vieux Fort Assou Square, and are expected to perform at Vieux Fort’s St. Lucia Independence celebrations.
The nominees for the first Jako Prize were introduced by a video presentation highlighting their work and accomplishments.
The second edition of the Vieux Fort Nobel Laureate literary Night culminated with the Mayor of Vieux Fort OrriciaDembow-Bullen presenting the Jako Prize, which entailed a cash prize of $500 and a glass trophy. Brice was not on hand to receive the prize being on overseas tour.