Mixed reviews on St Lucia Jazz 2012!

Miraculously after days of rain the sun came out, and for the most part of the weekend there were clear skies over the St Lucia Jazz Festival. This year’s festival didn’t wind up being a wash-out as many feared. The show went on as scheduled and Friday’s line up included the Derek Yarde Project En Kweyol, Gypsy Kings and Ziggy Marley.
Gyspy Kings set the party atmosphere and had the audience up and dancing to a variety of music including “Bamboleo”, “Baila Me”, “Djobi Djoba” and other tunes. Ziggy Marley was the final performer for the night and the artiste paid tribute to his father, while singing a couple of his own hits including “Love is My Religion.”
Saturday held Alison Marquis Nonet featuring Andy Narell, Keri Hilson and Kirk Franklin, in that order. Keri Hilson’s fans loved every second of her performance that included hits like “Knock You Down,” “Promise in the Dark and “Pretty Girl Rock”.
“Had to watch my mouth tonight,” she tweeted after the show. “Kirk Franklin right after me, closing the show! I was on my ‘better’ behaviour!”
Kirk Franklin later tweeted back: “You were good! Great seeing you and looking up to you! May God bless your life.”
Kirk Franklin, always the super enthusiastic performer had the crowd singing praises, and it really was an inspiration performance to say the least. Some weren’t sure the Gospel segment fitted in with the Jazz Festival, but Franklin delivered. The crowd’s response was a resounding “yes” when he asked if they wanted him back next year.
With all his jumping and leaping on stage, it was no surprise when Franklin announced a wardrobe malfunction.
“Even though I’m embarrassed, it does feel good. . .” he said after announcing he’d split his pants! “You know what this cool breeze makes me wanna do? Can I sing one more song in my split pants?”
The crowd had no objections—no one had noticed in the first place, and the artiste went on with his band and back up singers with uplifting songs like, “I Smile” and the crowd sang along to catchy lyrics: “I almost gave up, but a power that I can’t explain, fell from heaven like a shower. . . I smile, even though I’m hurt see I smile, I know God is working so I smile.”
Melanie Fiona started things up on Sunday and shared love with her audience expressing: “Thank you for being out here with me in the sun, I appreciate it. St Lucia’s a beautiful country, and this festival has a great line up!”
The Canadian singer’s set included her smash hit, “It Kills Me”, “4 AM”, “Monday Morning” and “Give it to Me Right”.
Hers was a performance that set the tone for what was definitely the best day of St Lucia Jazz this year. Sunday’s line up also included The WESPE POU AYITI Project featuring Jean Caze, Richard Payne, Sonny Troupe & Joel Widmaier, Hugh Masekela, Toni Braxton and Diana Ross.
During her performance Toni Braxton spoke about being a ‘P.K’—a Preacher’s Kid, and talked about how she grew up singing in church. Her churchy upbringing was a far cry from what unfolded onstage, and Braxton teased the men in the audience particularly with her provocative outfits that had quite a number of jaws dropping. Braxton’s performance was a super interactive one and at one point she went into the audience, selected a male (more like grabbed this woman’s husband away, with permission of course!) to take on stage with her.
“You mind if I borrow him?” she asked, before whisking the willing participant onto the stage. Once there the artiste made a show of sitting the man down and finding herself a comfortable position on his lap, much to the crowd’s delight.
“Are you sure you’re not going to get in trouble for this after the show,” she asked the obviously thrilled audience member. “What’s your wife’s name?
For a few moments the man seemed dumbfounded, and couldn’t even remember his wife’s name! The audience was practically in stitches laughing at the obviously star struck middle-aged man.
Braxton invited and danced with quite a number of male audience members on stage and later invited one woman to come on stage to sing with her. The woman came onstage with her young son who couldn’t take his eyes off Braxton. We’re pretty sure he’s never going to forget the moment Toni Braxton kissed him on the forehead! One of the more memorable moment in her performance was a rendition of “Get Away Jordan” where all five Braxton sisters who were at the show (including two who were her back up dancers!) joined her on stage. We’re thinking perhaps that particular moment may be an upcoming segment for their Braxton Family Values reality show?
Show stopper Diana Ross was next on the main stage and she glammed things up to no end. The old school performer pleased the crowd with hits like “I’m Coming Out”, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “Upside Down”, “I Will Survive”, “Here I am” and range of other tunes that had everyone dancing, no matter their age. It was over and done with when Ross pulled out her huge, red-feathered boa, which added to her exquisite, sparkly red dress!                 Diana Ross was quite the diva if there ever was one, and seemed quite the appropriate replacement for Lionel Richie, if there ever could be one. Nevertheless, some in the crowd still expressed disappointment that Richie was off the line-up. If there was a show saver for the low moments of this year’s Jazz Festival it certainly was Diana Ross!

Keri Hilson with fans

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