Arts & Entertainment, News, Top Story

Star Studded Lineup for This Year’s Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts festival

By Reginald Andrew

Organisers of the Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival unveiled a ‘star studded’ lineup of artistes to perform at this year’s event, while asserting that the spectacle will surpass the ratings of last year.

The April 30 to May 12 bonanza will feature top notch local, regional and international artistes, such as Grammy-award winner, song-writer and producer Baby Face, Jon Secada, Beres Hammond, Machel Montana, Joe Boy, Romain Virgo, local ‘reggae sensational’ artiste Meshack and a wide range of contemporary and nostalgic performers to grace the main stage at the Pigeon Point causeway.

An exciting local entertainment package of performers prepped up the atmosphere for the launch of Saint Lucia Jazz.

Two young artists on sax and violin greeted the incoming guests. Then, to get the ball rolling, Nintus on piano via video outlet let out a soulful creole tune with a duo of male and female dancers swaying away.

Tourism Minister Dr Ernest Hilaire delivered the opening speech, where he stressed on the importance of the ‘Community Jazz’ activities to complement the festival. He also spoke of a hosting a Global Media campaign as part of the promotional package.

“This festival, over its 30-year history, has evolved into radiant beacon of artistic expression, community development, economic opportunity and the harmonious conversion of diverse cultures,” declared Dr. Hilaire.

“From its modest inception, in 1992, it has blossomed into a cultural extravaganza transcending age and time through the creative power of art and music,” he added.

In reference to the short-lived Roots & Soul Festival put on by the former administration to replace the annual jazz festival, Dr. Hilaire contended, “It has rebounded from these conceived actions which threatened it continuation …today, let us reflect on the profound impact that this festival has had on our cherished island.

“Beyond our cultural landscape, it has emerged as an economic powerhouse, significantly contributing to our thriving tourism industry and allowed ordinary Saint Lucians to enjoy its share of the tourism pie.”

Underling the significance of hosting these events to promote the destination as a ‘Festival Country’, the tourism minister declared: “These events not only showcase the richness of our culture, but also economic opportunities for our local communities. In our deliberate quest for community involvement, this year’s festival will embrace more host communities.

“Each will become a stage for the inclusive and vibrant celebration of music and the arts. Community engagement has already been the lifer-blood of this festival and by extending our reach to these diverse communities, we aim to enhance this experience for both artistes and attendees alike.”

To step up the international promotional package, Hilaire disclosed that, on Thursday, the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA) was due to host the Global Media Launch “unveiling captivating commercial strategy to the world.”

Chairman of the Cultural Development Foundation (CDF) Darwin Guard reiterated that the Community Jazz component will feature prominently in the festival. “Our emphasis this year is based on training our youth and also getting a lot more of the artistes involved in pushing the Arts component,” he said.

Guard noted that the 2024 Icon Series will feature Llewyn Xavier – a visionary artist on contemporary art who will present at least 1000 pieces of his artwork.

SLTA Chairman and Chairperson of the Saint Lucia Jazz, Thaddeus Antoine stressed on the importance of showcasing the creativity of ‘Arts in Jazz’. He revealed that this year’s event will feature two Pure Jazz events, in an effort to whet the musical appetites of the hard-core jazz aficionados.

“As we celebrate musical diversity and ambition, we recognize the importance of fostering a space where established artistes can share their mastery, while providing emerging talents with exposure for them to flourish,” said Antoine.

“This inclusive approach not only enriches the festival experience for our patrons, but also contributes to the growth and vibrancy of local music …oozing from these shores,” he added. “We believe in the transformative power of music and by offering joint platforms, we integrate artistes and creatives at every stage of the journey, fostering a legacy of creativity and excellence in the ever-evolving landscape of the arts.”

Antoine appealed for more corporate sponsorship to sustain and deliver a “world class event”, which epitomizes Saint Lucia’s “culture, music and artistry through an amplified global platform …with private sector partnership we can make the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival a spectacular event.”

Local acts included at the jazz launch was a duo with Shannon Pinell on vocals and Shamari Maxwell on piano performing a jazzy piece entitled the “Book of Love’ written by Ronald “Boo” Hinkson.

Lisa Dublin stirred the gathering with soul searching dub wise poetry; while the Jessie Billy Trio delivered a spicy tune encapsulated with Creole rhythms and given a jazzy twist accompanied by Rupert Lay and Lenny Alphonse.

A major act at the event- was Romain Virgo as a guest performer who gave the audience a taste of things to come, belting out some of his popular hit songs.

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