Just when we all thought the St Lucia Jazz Festival couldn’t get bigger . . . it did. And even though some were skeptical and not exactly impressed with the line-up, Jazz 2011 pulled a massive crowd to the venue at the Pigeon Island National Landmark over the weekend, particularly Sunday’s event with headliner John Legend.
In the midst of his act Legend made it known that he enjoyed performing at the festival, asking that organizers continue inviting him over to the music festival in the tropical island of St Lucia to perform.
Jazz events happened all over the island throughout the last week, but the much-anticipated main stage events started unfolding at Pigeon Island on Friday with a show featuring Morgan Heritage among other performers. The Jamaican group has performed in St Lucia before but that didn’t change the appeal to any of their fans. Before they came on, however, St Lucian Mervyn Wilkinson, “The man with the golden voice” heated things up, performing original and cover songs including Bobby Caldwell’s “What You Won’t Do For Love,” Micheal Jackson’s “Human Nature” and a couple Caribbean hits like “Sheri-Anne” and more. Wilkinson conjured a Reggae vibe, but mixed it up playing the harmonica, creating a bluesy feel that kept the audience jamming into the next performance by four time grammy nominated Angelique Kidjo.
The West African performer captivated the audience whether they could understand her lyrics or not, and her energetic performance and extensive vocal range were exceptional. Angelique invited audience members onstage in parts of her performance to dance along with her, but needless to say, they all had a hard time keeping up with her African rhythms! Angelique wasn’t all about the music though, she made sure to deliver her message about her homeland and about people in general.
“Africa is the cradle of humanity,” she said, questioning the way it seemed in recent times that certain things that were good for rich countries, were not good for the poor.
Then she spoke about the youth of Africa saying: “Wherever you go you’re not welcome, but they don’t let you live decent in your own country.”She instructed everyone to make love a priority and put aside their differences. In the middle of her song “Chez Maman” Kidjo got offstage and danced into the crowd saying, “I want some love, give me some love.” In English her final song translated somewhere along the lines of “Don’t forget to celebrate life, every minute life is beautiful.”
Carimi had the crowd hyped up and the performers from Haiti were the act the large number of French visitors had come to see. Hits like “Ayiti Bang, Bang,” and “Bo Kote’” kept the audience moving resulting in a crowd pleasing act. After that the show’s attention shifted to side stage entertainment that would keep everyone going until headliners Morgan Heritage came on.
Hits like “Don’t Haffi Dread,” “Tell Me How Come” and Down By The River” had everyone in a Reggae mood. The audience showed the performers much love and Morgan Heritage returned the same love with an extensive performance fans just couldn’t get enough of.
Saturday’s show saw St Lucian Taj Weekes taking the mainstage first, followed by saxophonist Maceo Parker’s funk. Parker saluted the genius of Ray Charles and James Brown he expertly rendered some hits by the latter artiste. Even while Maceo Parker and Yellowjackets who performed next were onstage, the crowd rudely started up a “We want Trey” chant. Before Trey Songz would come on however, the Derek Yard Project entertained on the sidestage.
Prior to the show Songz when asked in a press conference how he got ready for the show expressed: “Different shows call for different preparations. It’s all in the mind of yourself. The situation varies no matter what stage you’re on.”
It’s anyone’s guess whether he was ready for the amount of love he got from young St Lucian women. It took the show’s host and security nearly half an hour to get the girls settled enough so the show could begin. Everyone wanted to get as close as possible to the front, resulting in the people up front getting squashed to the extent that the host had to announce numerous times that people were getting injured, and that everyone needed to step back. No one would bulge until finally police and security guards stepped in, roughly pushing through the crowd in an effort to get them to back off. Needless to say, tempers of the over excited girls flared, and the mêlée went on until Trey’s band members started making their way onstage signaling that Trey was near, and everyone forgot why they were mad in the first place.
Trey gave the audience everything they wanted, from “I Need a Girl” and “I Invented Sex,” to Say Ahh” and “Neighbours Know My Name.” The artiste added a bit of 50 Cent’s “Go Shorty” to get the girls going, and had them singing along to a “Say Ahh” remix.
In the midst of his performance, things slowed down a bit and Trey stepped to the stage front and took off his shades slowly and seductively and the screams were deafening. His blue stripped button-down came off and next thing you know Songz was half naked on stage sending his fans into pure euphoria! Girls raised Trey Songz posters made just for the show, CDs and other assorted stuff in the air, in an attempt to get the artiste’s attention—and that they did. Trey singled out a whole lot of girls in the crowd sending them crazy when he pointed directly to them saying, “I see you baby.”
After leaving his DJ to hype up the crowd, Trey went offstage, then came back with hits like “Bottoms Up” and “Already Taken.” After the show Trey was spotted at Sandals Grande’s Rapture celebrity after party.
This year’s show gets mixed reviews depending on who you ask—and depending on whether that person came for the music, or like the majority of people, just for the lime at the event that has become one of the Caribbean’s “must attend” parties.