The media launch of the 24th edition of the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival was held at the Pigeon Island National Landmark on Thursday February 5. By all accounts interest in the event has not waned as the buzz question “who is coming this year?” was floating around media circles all week, as well as among fans and supporters of the festival.
The launch featured an elegantly decorated deck and patio where invited guests, the media, tourism officials and sponsors mixed and mingled ahead of the official presentations made by the likes of the Tourism and Creative Industry Minister, Lorne Theophilus, the Director of Tourism, Louis Lewis and the chairman of the selections committee Thaddeus Antoine. For 2015 the Saint Lucia Tourist Board, organizers of the festival, will continue the thrust of infusing more “arts”. To this end there will be a higher concentration of the fashion component into this year’s event as well as the inclusion of a “film festival”.
Thursday’s launch also saw various video presentations of previous Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festivals reflecting the myriad of local arts including steel pan, stilt walkers, a craft village, spoken word and traditional drumming.
But while these aspects of the launch helped to create a vibrant atmosphere, the magic moment was the announcement of the line-up for this year.
Banking on the chemistry of mixing up the festival’s base of straight-ahead jazz with Caribbean music, Latin flavour, pop and R&B, the festival line-up includes some iconic names and current star power brokers.
Coming to the festival for 2015 will be two-time Grammy winner Jon Escada, a former member of Gloria Estefan’s group. Bridging the gap between Secada’s pop/Latin cross-over will be Timbalive, a sensational Latin ensemble. America rapper Flo Rida who has secured much pop-power in recent years is also down to perform as well as internationally acclaimed singer/songwriter Robin Thicke whose “Blurred Lines” became the biggest hit of his career.
For Jazz purists the 2015 Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival will feature the acclaimed Paris-based pianist Alain Jean Marie and two-time Grammy nominee Joey DeFranceso, featuring Grant Stewart, plus Barbadian virtuoso Arturo Tappin.
For reggae fans the event will feature the lovers rock king Beres Hammond as well as new conscious reggae singer Chronixx who is expected to kick off the 11-day event at the Mindoo Phillip Park. Saint Lucia’s very own Meshach will perform at this year’s main-stage. Krosfyah of Barbados and Saint Lucia’s Derede Williams are also listed to perform.
Jamaican reggae music star Jimmy Cliff is expected to perform on the final day of the festival, Sunday May 10 – Mother’s day. Cliff, best known for hits such as Many Rivers to Cross, I Can See Clearly Now, Wonderful World, The Harder They Come, Majority Rule, Reggae Nights and We All Are One, among countless others, is revered as an icon in the music world and has received numerous international awards.
Reflecting on the line-up overall, it would seem that the organizers have attempted to bring more musical integrity into such components as the “opening” after the failure of “Popcann” who headlined that event last year. Having artistes like Beres Hammond, who has a repertoire of sing-along hits which can carry through for over two hours, is also a plus. My only point of caution would be to allow Robin Thicke to close over Jimmy Cliff. This, I predict, will be as catastrophic as last year’s Maxwell finale. True, Thicke currently has a lot of muscle in the industry and his name alone is sure to create much buzz and excitement among his millions of Twitter and Instagram followers but as a closing act and to bring out the vocal fireworks to end the festival on May 10, Jimmy Cliff must be the man. That said, overall I think the line-up is a good one and hopefully the festival which runs from April 30 to May 10, 2015 will again be the talk of the town, not just in Saint Lucia but across the region and internationally too.