The reimagined St Lucia Jazz Festival – now the Soleil St Lucia Summer Festival – kicked off last night with local talent that thoroughly entertained patrons who filled the state-of-the-art convention centre at the island’s newest luxury hotel, Royalton St Lucia Resort & Spa.
It was a night of first-class jazz music, including instrumentals and song, with a lineup that featured seasoned St Lucian jazz artiste Ronald Boo Hinkson and The Young Stars.
Hinkson got the patrons warmed up as he began the show with songs like Peace of Mind and Comet. From then on, the night only got better and showcased some of St Lucia’s best musical and literary talent.
Young saxophonist Rashaad Joseph, just 17-years-old, was the first Young Star to grace the stage. He showcased ability well beyond his years, bringing the crowd to life with two selections, Justin Beiber’s Love Yourself and Alicia Keys’ If I Aint Got You.
Following him was poet Kyvon Edwin. The 19-year-old, who had first-hand training from late Nobel laureate Sir Derek Walcott, sought to keep his mentor’s legacy alive through his piece, and he did an excellent job of it.
The audience was in for a treat next, as they were thrilled by the sweet sounding voice of Shanne James. She put a jazz twist to the popular soca song Allez by St Lucian artiste Teddyson John, who was actually in the crowd at the time.
John then joined the young singer onstage and what followed was music to the crowd’s ears – literally and figuratively.
Hinkson then continued his set and was joined by two experienced vocalists, Shannon Pinel and Irvin Ace Loctar, who kept the audience thoroughly entertained well into the night.
They brought the show to a close with an instrumental version of the popular soca song Full Extreme by Trinidadian soca group Ultimate Rejects.
Thomas Leonce, chief executive officer of Events Company of St Lucia, the new producers of the Soleil St Lucia Summer Festival, said the jazz festival, the first in a series of six major shows, had something for everyone.
He told Barbados TODAY the first show exceeded his expectations and he especially loved seeing the young talent in St Lucia getting the opportunity to shine.
Leonce added that he was happy to kick off the festival with local talent and looked forward to the upcoming events.
“Unlike previous years, there’s been more a focus on jazz and music as opposed to just an entertainment show or mass event,” he said.
Minister of Culture and Local Government Fortuna Belrose told Barbados TODAY that based on what she saw on stage last night, the future of jazz music in St Lucia was in good hands.
“I think the show was fantastic. We had an experienced team who put this show together and we really want to commend them for delivering the quality of event they did tonight . . . . It is really the type of thing that we want for our country. . . so the world can see what we have to offer.
“So I think this was incredible tonight and it speaks volume for the standard we want for the show and for St Lucia as we go forward. I definitely think the future of jazz is in good hands and we can only continue to grow and do well as we remain focused on the agenda, ensuring that our country benefits in the long run,” she said.
The festival continues tonight at the Royalton from 7 p.m. Patrons will experience a fusion of jazz and Latin sounds from Malika Tirolien, and Danilo Perez with Ben Street and Terri Lynn Carrington.
Following that show, jazz lovers will then head over to the island’s national landmark Pigeon Island for 10:30 p.m. for the show featuring Michael Robinson, David Rudder and special guest Andy Narell.
The next event in the Soleil St Lucia Summer Festival will be the Roots & Soul Festival, from June 16–18, followed by St Lucia Carnival, July 14–18; Food & Rum Festival, August 24–27; Country & Blues Festival, September 15–17; and will end with the Arts & Heritage Festival which takes place October 28–29.