The 2013 Saint Lucia Jazz festival was launched here on Thursday January 31 at the William Jefferson Clinton ballroom, Sandals Grande. The event was meant to unveil a new way forward for the festival to the several invited guests, sponsors, the media and to the general public through “live” radio, TV and online broadcast. To this end, on Thursday it was announced that the event will now be called the Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival, with the aim of showcasing the islands rich musical, creative and cultural heritage during the event.
In keeping with the new thrust, Thursday’s launch which was designed to capture the imagination of television and online audiences not just in Saint Lucia, but overseas as well, encapsulated the various aspects of the arts, dance, fashion, visual arts and of course music. From the entrance leading down to the ballroom various podiums were set up displaying aspects of Saint Lucian performers with a “live” violinist, a painter and a dancer in particular. On the red carpet, where flashing cameras awaited the arrival of guests, various tourism officials adorned outfits from Saint Lucian designer Queen Esther and her Kumba designs.
These included the Minister of Tourism Lorne Theophilus, Tourism Director Louis Lewis, Deputy Chairman of the Saint Lucia Tourist Board Thaddeus Antoine and CDF Chairman Petrus Compton. It was there that the usual pre-event interactions, meet and greet as well as interviews with the television hosts were done as guests awaited the start of the formal proceedings. After guests took their places at 8:30 and following an instrumental performance of the national anthem (are we the only country who do that), the audience was treated to a powerful rendition of the song “Hero” (an original composition) by Saint Lucian performer Terri.
At that point already this year’s launch event was taking shape into something different with some thought going into the production and presentation. Following Terri’s performance the announcer introduced a video presentation from Saint Lucian born actor Joseph Marcel who played Jeffery on the Fresh Prince of Belair. The actor brought greetings from London, noting that indeed Saint Lucians had to feel proud of the festival which had been in existence now for 21 years.
Reigning Miss Caribbean Tourism Consuelo Dupal also sang the praises of the event in a video presentation from Curacao where she is representing Saint Lucia at another pageant. Interspaced within the speeches, the audience was treated to performances in song and dance with a folk and cultural twist added to the mix. In the audience were notable icons like Saint Lucian Calypso giant Invader as well as Hon Derek Walcott who was inadvertently referred to as “Sir” by the island’s tourism Minister. Then again maybe he knows something the Star has not been able to scoop up just yet. The Minister for tourism Lorne Theophilus spoke on Thursday evening about the challenge he put to the SLTB last year about coming up with a fresh approach for the now twenty one year old Jazz festival. “After setting the musical benchmark for over two decades, Saint Lucia as a destination needed to redefine not only itself, but critically its flagship special events activity. As we seek to implement our new strategic focus, it became necessary to forge closer linkages between the traditional festival line-up and a now burgeoning creative industries sector,” Theophilus said. For his part Tourism Director Louis Lewis gave an overview as to the road which led to the stage the festival was now at disclosing the names of a think tank which was put together to give a critical look at the event. Also speaking on Thursday was Petrus Compton Chairman of the Cultural Development Foundation who spoke on the linkages between other creative forms such as Theatre, poetry, dance and film to Jazz music.
And so with the event now being named The Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival, which was lauded by the audience, the event is expected to see a number of Saint Lucian artisans in various fields expressing their work during the festival. These will include designers, film-makers, crafts-folk, painters, musicians, dancers and others. The event will also feature activities like an art and craft village, a soundstage for Saint Lucian performers, fashion shows, culinary presentations by the SLHTA’s award winning culinary team and after-hours jam sessions. Also being met with much approval Thursday was the announcement that this year Jazz on the square will return, after a one year hiatus as well as Jazz at Balembouche.
The Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival 2013 will also feature, Jazz on the Beach, Jazz in the South with an additional event this year at the Cultural Centre, Fond D’or Jazz and Straight ahead Jazz at Gaiety among several others. According to the SLTB producers of the Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival the event this year will run for 13 days, April 30 to May 12 and will feature more than fifty artistes performing across the island. For Jazz purists, Gaiety on Rodney Bay will feature Jazz Trumpet player Etienne Charles, Roberta Fonseca of Cuba, Fal Frett and the John Scofield Uberjam. Friday’s main stage at Pigeon Island will be headlined by The Jacksons and will also feature R&B singer Ginuwine as well as Saint Lucian singer/ songwriter/producer Ace. The weekend at Pigeon Island will continue Saturday May 11 with performances by Tito Puente Jr., Tony Allen with the FELA dancers, Robbie Greenidge and David Rudder and headliner Akon. The finale on Sunday will see legendary R&B group The O Jays, Brian Culbertson and Ronald “Boo” Hinkson with a Folk Coalition. Closing the Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival on Sunday May 12, will be R&B performer, songwriter and producer R. Kelly.
With some names yet to be announced, the line-up for the Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival 2013 was met with much approval on Thursday. Overall the launch event was impressive, the new direction welcomed, with many simply waiting for the SLTB to not just “talk the talk, but walk the walk,” as the minister of Tourism put it on the night.