Arts & Entertainment, News

Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival is Back

By Reginald Andrew
Cultural display at the media launch of Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival 2023.
Cultural display at the media launch of Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival 2023.

Saint Lucia’s most popular summer fiesta, the Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival is back with a bang.

And according to local organisers and “head honchos” in the entertainment arena, the magnitude of the production planned is set to surpass previous shows.

A top-ranked award-winning line-up of artistes are down to grace the main stage at the “historic” and picturesque Pigeon Island Landmark, with the festival set to run from May 5 to 14.

With the major headline acts involving such global stars like Buju Banton, Bunji Garlin and Faye-Ann Lyons; Kes the Band, Shaggy, Sting, Luther Francois, Barrington Levy and other ace performers, the stage is set for something big in the making.

At Tuesday’s media launch, the St Lucia Tourism Authority’s [SLTA] CEO Lorine Charles- St Jules set the scene with a theatrical delivery that set the tone for the artistic portrayal and presentations at the event, held in the ambience of the rustic Pigeon Island ruins.

SLTA CEO Lorine Charles -St Jules outlines the format for Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts
SLTA CEO Lorine Charles -St Jules outlines the format for Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts

“This year marks 30 years of the anniversary of the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival and we are excited to launch the 2023 edition …and the line-up will feature a mix of renowned international acts and will also feature a special focus on our Saint Lucian music, arts and culture,” declared Charles –St Jules.

She said the local acts will highlight “performances from some of the island’s most beloved and budding artistes, providing a unique and unforgettable festival for all.”

“This year we are focusing on creating an even more immersive and engaging cultural experience for our patrons with a range of activities and performances designed to showcase the very best of Saint Lucia’s food, culture and traditions,” Charles St Jules said.

Activities will take place island-wide, the SLTA’s CEO said, “culminating with the main event in the stunning setting of the Pigeon Island Landmark, home of Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival.”

The Executive Director of the Cultural Development Foundation (CDF) Ramona Henry –Wyne, spoke about the colourful and artistic dashing arts display that will transform the city of Castries with heavy focus on the “arts component”.

Activities will be hosted at strategic areas within the city circuit, she added, to encompass the transformation into “a city of the arts” with the Spoken Word segment, a grand Steel Pan extravaganza at the SAB Playing Field, to Serenity Park with more “artsy bits” and then on to the Constitution Park with “everything artsy …everything that will transform our city, Lights, Camera, Fashion and an eclectic weaving of colour movement.”

Wyne-Henry explained that the CDF will source out talented Saint Lucians from the diaspora that have done “very well” in the wider fashion industry to participate in a grand fashion show that will incorporate other local designers, and “we are going to partner with those persons and create this wonderful, eclectic fashion show.”

Then on to the Derek Walcott Square for the Visual Arts component that will include sculpting, weaving, arts, literature, and steel pan music nightly; patrons will also get the opportunity to mingle with the artists and to learn from them. “So, it’s not just you coming into an event but there is a learning component, there is (also) a developmental component,” she said.

“Transforming the city into a ‘village of arts’ and everything artsy in the Derek Walcott Square,” added Henry-Wyne. “A re-imagined Walcott Square where everything artsy is going to be presented to you.”

Tourism Minister Dr. Ernest Hilaire addresses the gathering at the media launch
Tourism Minister Dr. Ernest Hilaire addresses the gathering at the media launch

Tourism Minister Dr. Ernest Hilaire is excited with the return of the festival and highly optimistic for prospects of putting on an amazing event.

“The Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival is more than just music, it’s a lime,” declared Hilaire. “It is a definition of who we are as Saint Lucians, bringing the best out of us through a Jazz & Arts Festival.”

He said the festival is regarded highly all over the globe, have shaped the island with its images over 30 years.

Hilaire stressed that over the years the festival has brought about significant revenue to the island, incorporating the hospitality industry and the wider “economic returns” that have benefited these entities. He added: “It’s not just about a marketing tool anymore, it’s part of our economic development and it’s part of creating economic activity in this country.”

The minister is pleased that a special component will be focused on the “arts component” and is excited about “arts in the city” adding that: “I want to see the city painted bright.”

In addition, he said, with the fashion shows and other presentations to allow artists to put out their best displays.

An enthralling local jazz performance set the mood for the show and other artistic presentations that highlighted the momentum in the lead up to the upcoming festival.

From a literary arts preservation to the Saint Lucia School of Music jazz ensemble band, and a jazzy soulful rendition from female vocalists and a brother blowing away on the sax, all gave a glimpse into an action-packed festival.

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