Those holding their breath in anticipation of the line up announcement for St Lucia Jazz 2012 can finally breathe a sigh of relief as performers for one of the leading festivals in the Caribbean were unveiled on Thursday, January 26 at the press launch for the event held at the Sandals Grande Hotel.
Speaking at the occasion Director of Tourism Louis Lewis was of the opinion that St Lucia Jazz had come a long way, and rightly so. The event marks its 21st anniversary this year; something Lewis called “a very significant milestone.”
“No other island in the Caribbean has a specially hosted event that has lasted this long; we have every reason to be proud to host such an exclusive event in such a small island.”
The Director of Tourism touched on some of the challenges the festival had faced over the years and spoke about the way organizers had experimented with alterations and new adjustments particularly in 2012. At the jazz launching Lewis made the announcement that one event that has been off the Jazz calendar of activities for quite some time will return this year. The revamped format for Jazz 2012 includes the Opening of Jazz in the community of Marchand where it was originally held. The news was met with a rousing round of applause, particularly from Philip J Pierre, MP for Castries East and minister for Infrastructure, Ports Services and Transport.
Lewis spoke of the need for the festival to be all embracing and of bringing jazz to the communities as that he said was a step in the right direction. According to the Tourism Director, this year there would be a wider embrace of “fringe events,” which would now be referred to as community events under the same umbrella as the St Lucia Jazz product.
There were more revelations to be made at the official press launch for St Lucia Jazz. Organizers said Jazz on the Square had “outlived its effect.” In the words of the Tourism Director: “The Square is no longer center of life in Castries. We’ve encountered challenges from difficultly in parking to stores complaining rather than embracing the music.”
In that light, Jazz on the Square will be moved to the Pier, with a new name, ‘Waterside Jazz.’
“Jazz on the Pier and the Square will all be included as one festival,” Lewis explained adding that the formula for the St Lucia Jazz Festival had been adjusted across the board as the event was “no longer living up to its original objectives,” something that needed to be taken into consideration.
While Lewis noted all the changes would not be embraced this year, he touched on the ‘quality and not quantity’ outlook of organizers for this year’s festival.
“There is going to be a reduction in the number of acts,” Lewis stated. “If it’s a family event it has to be all inclusive, not something that stretches on for too long. If we were to make no compromise of quality but reduce the number of acts that would create improvement. We have an excellent line up in keeping with the budget we have.”
When it was his turn, Tourism Minister Lorne Theophilus called St Lucia Jazz an unrivaled Caribbean Festival that was truly exceptional not just because of the wide range of music but unrivaled exotic venues where events were held.
“We see signs that the event has come of age and as we celebrate we see the event has grown up,” Theophilus told the audience. “We’ve seen interesting collaborations that may never be seen again and that’s what makes it special. St Lucia Jazz is a continuously evolving entity. Let us recognize the achievement of the festival and highlight the reasons we continue to do this. St Lucia Jazz has generated arrivals for St Lucia at times other than the festival. It’s a festival to be seen and performed at. This festival has helped develop the local entertainment and production industry. There are benefits to local arts and craft centers and impacts on the communities hosting events. We have an event we should all be proud of and it gives me great pleasure to launch St Lucia Jazz 2012.”
Performers for the Opening of Jazz at the Mindoo Phillip Park include Faye Ann and Bunji Garlin, Busy Signal and Teddyson John on Tuesday, April 30 from 7:30pm. Main stage
festivities kick off with Joshua Redman and Ronald Boo Hinkson at the Gaiety on Wednesday, May 9 from 7pm. Mario Canonge and Luther Francois take over the Gaiety main stage on Thursday, May 10 from 7pm, leading the way to entertainment at Pigeon Island.
Friday, May 11 boasts performances by Gipsy Kings, Ziggy Marley, Derek Yarde Project (DYP)-en Kweyol from 8pm. Saturday, May 12 will find Kirk Franklin, R&B sensation Keri Hilson and Alison Marquis featuring Andy Narell on the main stage from 4pm at Pigeon Island.
Sunday, May 13 holds the jazz finale, which features acts like Lionel Richie, Melanie Fiona, Hugh Maseaela, the Weste Pou Itayiti Project featuring Caze, Richard Payne, Sunny Troupe and Joe Widnaier from 2pm. Other jazz activities include Jazz in the South at Coconut Bay. On Friday, May 1 from 3pm Jazz in the South makes its way to the Rudy John Beach Park in Laborie. Careille Jazz will be held at the community Park on Tuesday, May 1, Teatime Jazz on Wednesday, May 9 from 3pm at La Place Carenage, Waterside Jazz at the Pointe Seraphine Complex at a date to be announced, Jazz on the Pier on May 7th and 8th and Fond d’Or Jazz on Saturday, May 5th.