In St Lucia news, As they say, “all good things must come to an end.” Sadly the curtains have come down on one of the most entertaining, engaging and fun filled times in lush green St.Lucia.
Thirteen days of pulsing rhythms spanning all genres of music; Zouk, Caribbean Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Calypso, Hip Hop/R & B, folk and the list goes on. It all made for an incredible melting pot of excitement, “a bouillon”, as nationals say here.
For the first time, St.Lucia Jazz took on a new character; St.Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival. And for the first time, St.Lucians were truly centre stage in front of the World.
Dancers, drummers, fashion designers, artists, artisans, poets, were in full bloom showcasing talents never thought to be had. It was also the first time that a great chunk of the multi million dollar St.Lucia Jazz budget stayed home.
This year, the number of local acts surpassed the imported. Alas, St.Lucia has come of age…an acceptance of Self beyond what any Tourism official expected. The beauty of it too, is that our visitors thoroughly enjoyed what Looshans had to offer. At each venue, they were there in large number, applauding, grooving, appreciative of the efforts.
The Director of Tourism, Louis Lewis, contextualized this success in terms of the forging of effective economic linkages between emerging and established economic sectors.
“While the mandate for the Creative Industries is not directly under the remit of the Tourist Board, it relates to us in two ways.
One being that our product development focus must always aim for the retention of what is authentically Saint Lucian.
But also because fortuitously, we are even better able to do that given that we fall under the same governmental administrative structure with the Creative Industries mandate.
I would say we scored highly in this inaugural year of the Festival which is tremendous”, explained the Director. “The Jazz and Arts Festival will improve Saint Lucia’s visibility in the marketplace” he continued.
After numerous free concerts in communities around the Island, Shopping Malls, Town squares and Clubs, anticipation for the finale was high, to say the least.
Each year, the Pigeon Island National Park accommodates the thousands of locals and visitors, who flock to be part of the Best Party in the Caribbean. Surrounded by the contrasting waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, this national gem of 44 acres embraces it all.
Patrons were in for a treat this year, the final two days of St.Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival provided a mix of local and international acts. St.Lucia’s most recognized, Luther Francois, Ronal Boo Hinkson and Barbara Cadet thrilled, taking up and coming artists along for the ride.
But let’s face it, in as much as the locals can sing, and play a mean instrument, it is the imported acts that is the icing on top. Sometimes sweet, sometimes not.
That pleasure began with Ginuwine. The R & B crooner brought his game, but it was not good enough. The artist, who peaked in the 90’s seemed to forget his lyrics at times, pleading to his backup vocalists for help. But they too seemed lost.
His vocals seemed a bit tired, cracking, leaving him screaming for the high notes. Being the pro that he is though, Ginuwine masked it all, in performance; swooning the ladies. It was a night for the Throwbacks, as the Jacksons lit up the stage.
Each brother, Marlon, Tito, Jackie and Jermaine, wore something reminiscent of the King, younger sibling, Michael. They didn’t miss a beat, dancing up a storm on stage, taking the thousands who were transfixed on a musical journey.
The set would not have been complete without a tribute to Michael. And oh how moving it was. A big screen brought Michael alive to fans with a number of his biggest hits.
Then there was Akon. Keeping true to what has become the norm for recording artists, lip syncing. But let’s be real, Akon’s records are all auto tuned…was the expectation that he would sing live?
Not in my world. Nonetheless there were those amongst us disappointed. Give it to him though; he put on a good show. Bobbing up and down the stage, interacting with the audience, helping them forget that he was exerting very little vocal energy.
And just when you thought the Festival couldn’t get any better, the headliner lived up to the billing and then some. Mr.R.Kelly !!!!! Twenty seven (27) years in the music business, hundreds of songs to choose from.
It must have been a difficult select for him, but truly pleasing to fans. His smooth melodies, suggestive lyrics and gyrating beats had everyone in a frenzy. Oh! What a night!!! Oh what a Festival!
In the estimation of Chairman of the Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival Committee Thaddeus Antoine, of the several ‘firsts’ added to the Festival this year, the increase in free shows, and events close to the cultural personality of the country, as well as trending artistic genres like Spoken Word, succeeded in achieving something which the rebranding established as a priority.
“The people feel more ownership of Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival, because they can become fully immersed in the buzz, whether or not they make it to main stage or other paid events.
Once there is mass popular ownership, and pride in the Festival, we can only improve and maintain our strategic edge as the festival trendsetter in the Caribbean,” exclaimed Antoine.
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