British musician Seal, noted songwriter and
singer Babyface, jazz diva Nancy Wilson, percussionist Pancho Sanchez, and the
soulful Reverend Al Green are the headliners for the 15th edition of the St. Lucia
Jazz Festival to be held in the creole island nation from May 5-14, 2006.
The 15th St. Lucia Jazz Festival, its crystal anniversary, was launched in Castries,
St. Lucia this week, heralding the start of what many regard as the world’s third
most popular music festival but which is certainly the Caribbean’s most popular jazz
Staged by the St. Lucia Tourist Board and produced by BET Event Productions, a
division of Viacom subsidiary Black Entertainment Television (BET), it has also
attracted the smooth sounds and musical genius of Freddy Cole brother of the late
Nat King Cole, saxophonist Kenny Garrett, rhythm and blues singer Ciara, and
Barbados-born music sensation Rihanna, who each will take the stage at the legendary
Pigeon Island National Park.
And there’s more, Chairman of the St. Lucia Tourist Board, Costello Michel says, as
soon as other contracts are signed, more artistes will be named. He noted that
despite budgetary challenges, the best combination of possibilities for a wonderful
musical event has been assembled.
“We have to understand that although it is
important to continue to have the best festival in the region, and probably one of
the best in the world, we have to do it within the limitations of what a country
like ours can afford to spend on one event,” he told the launch ceremony.
St. Lucia tourism minister Philip J. Pierre, under whose watch the St. Lucia Jazz
Festival has consolidated and expanded island-wide, says he expects that this year’s
festival “will again attract record numbers, as we continue to cater for all tastes
and take the spirit to all corners of the island, from Pigeon Island to Fond d’Or
and from Vieux Fort to Bocage.”