Saint Lucia’s Youth and their Creative Arts took front-and-center stage at Saint Lucia’s three-decades-old Jazz and Arts Festival on Thursday and Friday, with explosive performances live-streamed from Castries to the rest of the island and broadcast from Serenity Park to Saint Lucians at home and abroad, throughout the Caribbean and the world, through 88 radio stations.
Apart from the Hi-Tech global-showcasing of local talent through Information Technology (IT), everything else was different at the opening event at the Serenity Park at Sans Soucis, Castries on Thursday.
The first-ever festival, which ended yesterday, was jointly-sponsored by the Castries Constituency Council (CCC), “in collaboration with the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, with the endorsement of the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports.”
There was large representation of primary and secondary students and the curtains were raised with a previously-unheard piano-solo jazz-version of Saint Lucia’s National Anthem ‘Sons and Daughters of Saint Lucia’, a prayer by Antonius Calderon, an opening act called ‘Spoken Word’, the ‘Carib Lament’ by Terjhan and the ‘Lament of an Arawak Boy’ by Carlisle Thomas.
With Vanessa Phillips as MC, the inaugural event also belted-out artful sounds of Saint Lucia’s youth and students in ways previously unseen and unheard by most attending the start of the free event, with positive crowd reaction to sterling stage performances from Maestro (featuring Giding), plus Kyan Gabriel (on piano) and Songs by Phoebe d’Auvergne, Michael Fletcher and Company, Meghan Leonce and Sierra Belizaire, Nevillia Edward and Amelia Camille.
Jazzy and spicy local, Caribbean and international renditions were also tendered through drum solos by Jaleel Vigilant and Anwar, a Steel Band (pan) performance by a group representing the Patricia James Secondary School, plus other school-based student performances by Abigail Lesfloris, St. Mary’s College (SMC) Steel-Pan band, a Spoken Word by Kina, the Leon Hess Comprehensive Secondary School (LHCSS) Song by Venus and Unplugged by the St. Joseph Convent (SJC).
Sterling performances also came from the ESP Choir, Corinth Band, Raschad on Sax, Maestro & Crew, with Songs by Torrel, Jessicana and Kristian.
Dance performances were also in the mix at the first junior jazz festival, showcased by the Visual Impact Dance Academy.
And the closing acts featured legendary Saint Lucian songstress Patsy Cadet presented and honoured as the first-ever Junior Jazz Honouree for 2023.
Other closing acts featured Kina, Imran and Chowdaa (MIR), the Boys Training Center (BTC) on Pan — and introducing Ezra De Fun Machine to the youthful crowd of mainly students and amazing performers.
The activity was opened with welcome remarks by Local Government Minister Richard Frederick, who thanked the CCC and the Youth & Sports Ministry for their cooperation in ensuring the festival saw its launch.
The Minister said the 2024 Junior Jazz and Arts Festival “is already blessed” with “a permanent place” on the annual national calendar of Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts events.
He also thanked Taiwan for making Serenity Park a reality when he first undertook its construction – and revealed too that there “will soon be a new amphitheater” at Serenity Park.
Minister Frederick, who is also MP for the City of Castries and Minister for Housing, said the new amphitheater “is already budgeted for” and “work will start in June”.
The Minister urged the young performers to take advantage of their sounds being streamed to the world Live-and-Direct over two days, via 88 radio stations as negotiated by Mayor Geraldine Lendor, also reminding the performers that, as a result, “The world is your stage today and tomorrow, so showcase your talent and let the entire world be both your stage and your judge…”
Minister Frederick closed his opening statement thanking Title Sponsor, the 1st National Bank, “for seeing an opportunity and taking it…”
The bank was the main corporate sponsor, backed by Sandals Resorts International (SRI) and Dove Productions.
1st National Bank Managing Director Fletcher St. Jean, who attended, received an appreciative plaque from the organizers, as did SRI’s resident Managing Director Winston Anderson, for their corporate backing for the innovative and unprecedented event, as well as to Dove Productions for their filming and streaming of the entire event.
St. Jean told The VOICE: “We at 1st National Bank St. Lucia Limited remain committed to our Corporate Social Responsibility, which is why, as the island’s first indigenous bank, we didn’t hesitate to partner with the CCC for the launch of the first Junior Jazz and Arts Festival.
“The musical and performance combination of Youth and Jazz is a great and explosive initiative, and we are simply proud to be associated in building a solid foundation for the Saint Lucian youth and students, through music.”
And he concluded, “When we say we are ‘Here for you…’ we are truly here for our people!’