It was initiated as a simple marketing device. Five years later, Atlanta’s Next Best, an ingenious and collaborative effort between the St Lucia Tourist Board and a popular Atlanta radio personality, Rene Miller, to promote the annual St Lucia Jazz Festival has blossomed into a full blown Atlanta experience and tradition.
After three consecutive weeks of intense competition, nine finalists took the stage at Taboo2 Bistro and Bar, an upscale nightclub north of Atlanta for a chance to win the St Lucia’s Tourist Board’s coveted prize: an all expense paid trip to St Lucia and a unique opportunity to perform on a big stage at the Jazz Festival.
Describing the event as “awesome,” Ms Renee Miller says that this year’s talent find represents an explosion of young people “with so much to offer.” She says Atlanta’s Next Best is not just a talent show but an experience and an opportunity to “recognize youthful talent and vigor and expose them to recording artists.” The event has now become a cause, which enables her to team up with the St Lucia Tourist Board and to be engaged in the Atlanta market. The value of this collaboration to the island of St Lucia is enormous and cannot be measured only in monetary value.
St Lucia Tourist Board Atlanta Representative, Kelly Fontenelle explained: “This is the fifth year of an innovative and creative way to promote the St Lucia Jazz Festival and to increase the tourist traffic between Atlanta and St Lucia. It was always our goal to do something unique that would have a lasting promotional effect between Hotlanta and the ‘Simply Beautiful’ island of St Lucia.”
Atlanta’s Next Best is a contest of unsung artists who are given a unique opportunity to showcase their talent and skills. The winner is scheduled to perform on stage in St Lucia during the St Lucia Jazz Festival, which is traditionally held during the first weekend in May.
Fontnelle also had high praise for the sponsorship of St James Club Morgan Bay. She described the relationship as a marvelous partnership in the promotion of the island.
A capacity crowd was serenaded, hyped, and captivated as competitors performed tunes like ‘Tell Me Something Good’, by Chaka Khan, ‘It’s Love’ by Jill Scott, ‘Before I Go’ by Frankie Beverly & Maze, ‘All I Do’ by Stevie Wonder, ‘Say Yes’, by Floetry and other popular R&B songs. The evening clearly belonged to Tony Tatum who wowed the audience and moved them to their dancing feet with a titillating and soul touching rendition of Luther Vandross’ ‘Never Too Much’. He managed to command the tune, giving it his own personality and compelling the people to sing and move. His stage presence overwhelmed competitors and he was the clear favorite as he walked away with the cherished prize of a big stage performance at St Lucia Jazz, compliments the Tourist Board and a recording contract sponsored by Renee Miller Productions.
The proud winner expressed his elation speaking to the STAR this week: “This was an awesome contest. I was able to get the crowd involved and their inspiration to sing along with me spurred my confidence along,” he said. “I have never been to St Lucia and I plan to leave my mark on the island.”
The backstage depiction of the twin Pitons rising from the clear blue Caribbean Sea with the inscription: “Explore the natural wonders of the Island…St Lucia,” was a fitting message. Tatum will be doing just that while performing on the biggest stage of his budding career and living his dream.