St. Lucia Jazz 2017 sounded-off on a high note at the Royalton St. Lucia Resort and Spa on the evening of Thursday May 11.
An expectant audience of locals, visitors and event organizers gathered at the Royalton’s brand spanking new Convention Centre for the Jazz Showcase featuring Boo Hinkson and the Young Stars.
The two-hour set which was anchored and commandeered by local music icon Ronald Boo Hinkson was a virtual showcase of some of the best musical and literary talent emerging from St. Lucia at this time.
Boo opened the set with one of his signature instrumental compositions called Jeremie Street, and How Can I,from his last CD Shades. The virtuoso guitarist took the audience on a trip down memory lane and showed why he is a master at his craft – his fingers gliding effortlessly on the frets, notes ringing melodiously. In typical Boo fashion, there were moments when he played with his eyes closed. Boo and his guitar became one in alchemy.
Rashaad Joseph was the first young star to join Boo on stage. Barely out of his teens, Rashaad exudes poise and composure well beyond his years. Beneath his calm demeanour is a fire that ignites when he gets on stage. When he burst on the local music scene 3 years ago, Rashaad started off playing the Tenor Sax. Many were surprised to see him playing the Soprano Sax at the Jazz Showcase.
He opened with a soulful rendition of Justin Bieber’sLove Yourself on the Soprano Sax. He then switched to his Tenor Sax where he blew the audience away with his version of Alicia Keys If I Ain’t Got You.
If you haven’t heard the name Kyvon Edwin, remember his name. He had the ladies in the house mesmerized with his sensual rendition of Oh Ghal, a riveting poetic interpretation of Teddyson John’s song of the same name. A budding actor, poet and member of the local group Head Phunk, Kyvon first performed with Boo at hisShow the World concert last December. Kyvon whose first-love is acting, has his sights set on acting school in the USA sometime this year to pursue his passion.
Young female vocalist Shanne James has been a Facebook sensation with over 30,000 hits since she recorded and released a jazzy version of Teddyson John’s Allez. The audience got more than they bargained for. Guess who was in the house? You guessed right…Teddyson John. Boo invited him on stage and he stepped forward, creating sweet harmony with Shanne. It was spontaneous, infectious, and unscripted.
Irvine Ace Loctar has toured and performed with Boo at home and abroad, including Washington and Mainstage Jazz at Pigeon Island. The most experienced and mature of the featured performers on the night, Loctar jokingly thanked Boo for referring to him as “young.” He showed his experience and vocal mastery in a tribute to the late Al Jareau with Spain and the Boo Hinkson classic Song of Love.
Widely touted as the heir apparent to the late Derek Walcott and St. Lucia’s next Nobel Laureate, Vladimir Lucien rendered two of his poems to music. The second was a haunting piece which captured a mother’s anguish at losing her son.
Shannon Pinel was the surprise package on the night. Still in her early twenties, Shannon demonstrated a presence and command of the stage that stunned the audience. They were tuned-in to every note she belted out.
She first did Like a Woman – a new song which will be featured on Boo’s next CD. Her voice reverberated in soulful jazz style, with echoes of Erika Badu and Jill Scott. The pint-size singer brought the house down with her rendition of the Eta James classic At Last. The emotion in her voice and her amazing vocals belied her youth. It was as if she was announcing her arrival on the music scene. Shannon Pinel is definitely one to watch.
Boo capped off the night with an instrumental version of the Maximus Dan hit – Hold Them and Wok Them – which got patrons off their seats, moving, grooving, and dancing. It was a fitting end, with a standing ovation for Boo Hinkson and the Young Stars.
It was the perfect start to the newly minted St. Lucia Jazz under the Soleil banner. From all indications, the organizers were very pleased with the first night. CEO of Events St. Lucia Inc., Thomas Leonce said: “I’m convinced we made the right decision to commence St. Lucia Jazz 2017 with homegrown talent. We endorse what Boo is trying to do in terms of exposing young talent. The performances were of international standard, and that shows how far we have come, musically.”
Addressing some of the skepticism surrounding the revised Jazz Festival under the Soleil brand, Leonce said: “Many of the events under the Soleil umbrella already existed. St. Lucia Jazz existed prior to Soleil, Carnival has always been with us, we’ve traditionally celebrated Creole Heritage Month in October, and we’ve had a Food & Rum Festival in the past.
We are not doing anything revolutionary. What we have done is create a brand to manage the festivals under one umbrella – Soleil Saint Lucia Summer festival. As with any change, it will take some time for persons to embrace it and get accustomed to it, but we are confident that our people will warm-up to Soleil as the events unfold.”
Jazz purists are in for a treat at the Royalton tonight, Friday May 12 from 7:00 p.m. On stage will be Malika Tirolien followed by Danilo Perez with Ben Street and Terri Lynn Carrington.
The action moves to Pigeon Island from 10:30 p.m. with local singing sensation Michael Robinson, to be followed by David Rudder and Andy Narell.
Full details about Soleil Saint Lucia Summer Festival can be found at www.stlucia.org/summerfestival.