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Music to St. Lucia’s Ears

Bevan Springer
Amsterdam News

As St. Lucia’s world famous jazz festival enters its 15th year next Spring, the island is looking to bring world music to the creole territory for the first time.The first Heineken Kalalu World Music Festival was launched at SOB’s in lower Manhattan this week to prepare international visitors for a fusion of Caribbean, French, Latin and African musical offerings from December 1 to 4.

Set for Samaans Park, in Choc Bay in the north of the island, the organisers have attracted trumpeter and pioneer of South African Jazz, Hugh Masekela, Senegalese vocalist and percussionist Idrissa Diop, Haitian singer and songwriter Emeline Michel, Sensación Orchestra from Cuba, Soukous Stars from the Congo, Puerto Rican vocalist Jose Alberto, Grammy-nominated Latin-funk collective Yerba Buena, singer Sekouba Bambino from Guinea, and Bluemangó and Ronald “Boo” Hinkson from St. Lucia.

Director of the festival, Adrian Augier, said the event is designed to complement the St. Lucia Jazz Festival.

“We have been in that business for 15 years. It’s time to add a new product to the list of special events which happen in St. Lucia. It’s definitely tourism-driven (and) about developing opportunities in the arts and entertainment sector (in) which we think St. Lucia has a major advantage and reputation in the international marketplace.”

The festival also will receive a huge partnership boost from BET, a long time partner and producer of the St. Lucia Jazz Festival. Cybelle Brown, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for BET Digital Networks, lauded the concept.


“Knowing the trends in music right now and where we are going with the Jazz Channel and our programming, we thought it would be a perfect fit to participate as a programming partner and potentially as a sponsor of the event.” Augier noted.

“BET brings with it the international, North American coverage that we will need (and) we are very happy to have them on board.”

Because it’s the low season, the festival should be a low cost hit with the budget conscious traveler. And there are lots of flights to choose from in spite of Air Jamaica suspending service to the island.