The other “big” night of the week here in Saint Lucia, following the top Chef Finale on Wednesday night featuring the recently “discovered” Nina Compton, was the launch of the 2014 Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival by the Saint Lucia Tourist Board on Thursday. Often touted as the media launch, the evening typically features say 10% media, 50% percent organizers and sponsors and 40% of “who’s that?” But that in itself is another story.
So the big talk of the night, besides the Minister of Tourism Lorne Theophilus making it another Nina’s Night without saying exactly what will be done for Saint Lucia’s “Top Chef” as our new Culinary Ambassador, was of course the line-up for the festival. According to the chairman of the artistic committee Thaddeus Antoine, this year the budget for the event has been cut “drastically.” Can I hear an applause for that? And so the organizers have been asked to produce a just as good or even better festival with less of our tax-payers money.
The highly anticipated launch (befitting of such a title unlike the other so called highly-anticipated New Year’s speech) took place at the Sandals Halcyon Beach Resort.
“This year’s event is building on a resurgence of fresh artistic direction infused into the festival in 2013, thus providing the perfect opportunity for scores of local artisans, entertainers and cultural enthusiasts to command world attention at scenic vistas across the island,” stated the Minister of Tourism, Heritage and Creative Industries Hon Lorne Theophilus, obviously inspired by a number of roly poly cats who added misery to Lloyd Webber’s play as part of the entertainment.
A quote from Louis Lewis, Director of Tourism, on the night: “The 2014 line-up is an exhilarating mix of musical genres that would again allow the festival to deliver the world class experience for which it has become renowned.”
And now the line-up: Cuban composer, pianist, bandleader and Grammy nominee Omar Sosa Quintet and three-time Grammy-winning American jazz singer-songwriter, as well as Tony Award winning stage actress, Dee Dee Bridgewater, will perform at the Gaiety on Rodney Bay as part of the “real” Jazz experience at the event.
Main stage activities at the Pigeon Island National Landmark will start Friday, May 9 with a downsized event dubbed Caribbean Night. The event will see performances from Trinidadian string band Alternative Quartet, Teddyson John featuring Alison Hinds and Jamaican reggae and dancehall legend Barrington Levy. Old meets new – you think?
Saturday May 10 and Pigeon Island will feature American soul singer, songwriter and producer Kem, Latin Grammy Award-winning Merengue singer Elvis Crespo of ‘Suavemente’ fame and the Nigerian twin R&B duo P-Square with their hit “Personally.” Sounds like a nice party mix.
Then for Sunday’s finale, the Saint Lucia Tourist Board will be banking on Tessanne Chin’s recent “The Voice” victory to add some star power to the event. Hey, maybe even Adam Levine will fly over to see her first real big stage concert since her win. The Commodores (minus Lionel Richie) will lead Sunday into the nightshift while the announcement of headliner Maxwell on Thursday stirred up even more wet cats on the night.
The 2014 Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival will again feature a number of other events across the island including Jazz in the South, the opening at Mindoo Phillip Park and Hot Couture. No need to go into which cat I think won’t be petted by the Tourist Board this year for the event.
So after all is said and done what do I really think of the line-up? Well, let’s just say my hope is that we won’t wait until we see Saint Lucian performer Kayo, now based in Canada, on the Grammy stage, before we invite him to perform at the festival. Or even the group ASAP who were wonderful at Thursday’s shindig. Now here are some guys worthy of their invite and a bowl of milk and cookies to go with it too. As for the other cats, well that’s a whole other story. Stay tuned.