CASTRIES, Saint Lucia (June 10, 2010 - Thousands of Saint Lucians from all walks of life accompanied by equal numbers of visitors from the region and the world, were again able to share and live the legend that is Saint Lucia Jazz. The two week experience which began on May 1st came to a grand climax on May 10th, with an electrifying performance from Jamaican Grammy-winning dancehall artiste Shaggy.
Not to be out done and mere minutes before, the huge Sunday crowd was thrilled and kept on their feet by reggae sensation Maxi Priest, who had earlier shared the staged with the likes of Jeffery Osborne, Freddie Jackson, Phil Perry and Howard Hewett, much to the delight of a very enthusiastic crowd. Saturday's show, which this year was moved to a late afternoon timeslot, saw patrons dancing to yet another Grammy-winning group - Steel Pulse.
A highpoint of the 2010 event come on Friday when huge throngs of patrons comprised largely of younger persons, packed the Pigeon Island venue for the captivating performance of NE-YO, whose appearance at Saint Lucia Jazz comes right on the heels of his Grammy win for Best Contemporary R&B single. Belting out several of his popular hits along with a slew of others written by him for artistes such as Rihanna, Mary J. Blige and Beyonce to name a few, NE-YO delivered and went on to set the tone for other exciting performances which followed on the weekend. His energetic and engaging performance had followed a literal string of "standing ovations" from a very appreciative full-house crowd, who simply could not get enough of artistes such as Earl Klugh, Laura Izibor and Jean Luc Ponty when they performed at the cabaret type intimate setting of the Gaiety on Rodney Bay for what was termed the Straight-Ahead jazz shows on Wednesday and Thursday night.
Speaking of the mid-week shows Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation Allen Chastanet said, "This is exactly the kind of legendary one-of-a kind experience we are seeking to create, maintain and sustain with Saint Lucia Jazz." Buy-in from the corporate community Minister Chastanet said contributed to making the shows a success, a factor he termed "an encouraging sign" that would augur well for the continued growth of Saint Lucia jazz.
Notably, this year's event was produced and management by wholly Saint Lucian production and management teams.
Concerning the overall festival Director of Tourism Louis Lewis said, "One of the successes of this year's hosting of Saint Lucia Jazz was the visible growth and expansion of several of the fringe activities that stretched across the island. Many of these shows; which are themselves imperative to the overall jazz experience, drew record crowds and in some cases totally new venues emerged. In general these fringe activities expanded the economic benefits throughout the island which is a primary objective of hosting the event."
The fringe events were keenly anticipated and recorded unprecedented numbers at Jazz on the Pier, a distinctively undiluted creole accent of Soufriere Jazz and the incorporation of an indoor venue by Labowi Promotions in the South.
Blessed with fine weather which saw just a few light showers, Lewis said other successes of the 2010 festival included greater efficiencies in ticket sales and processing, increased use of information technology which resulted in fewer delays and a marked increase in media coverage.
The colourful and rhythmic "side stage" coordinated by the Caribbean Events Company - a grouping of local Saint Lucian entrepreneurs - and the Cultural Development Foundation (CDF), to the delight of patrons delivered on an impressive mix of the island's cultural forms spanning calypso and soca music, carnival portrayals, dance, popular theatre and steel band. Efforts meantime for commemorating the twentieth anniversary of Saint Lucia Jazz have begun in earnest.