Saint Lucia Jazz Festival
The St. Lucia Jazz Festival is an annual internationally known event which takes place on the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. The event brings together international as well as local musicians. The jazz festival not only features jazz music but also R&B and Calypso.
The event has attracted such artists as R. Kelly, Herbie Hancock, Courtney Pine, Ocacia, Branford Marsalis, En Vogue, George Benson, Santana, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, The Isley Brothers, UB40, Mary J. Blige, Lauryn Hill, Luther Vandross, Trey Songz, Rihanna, Elton John, John Legend, Mario, Ne-Yo, Zionomi, Amy Winehouse, Angie Stone, Ciara, Boyz II Men, India.Arie, Smokey Robinson, American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino and Malcolm-Jamal Warner. The event is ranked second in the Caribbean after the Trinidad Carnival.
The first St. Lucia Jazz Festival was held in 1992 as an initiative to extend the tourist season and increase foreign exchange in Saint Lucia into May which had previously been a relatively quiet period. It was inspired by the launching of the October Jazz Festival in 1991 spearheaded by Luther Francois as Musical Director.
Originally 4 locations were used; however today the festival has expanded and several locations around the island are used to host performances (see list below).
At first, the festival attendances were small. But as the years passed, word spread helped by coverage on the BET J television network, and it is now a well-established fixture on the Jazz festival calendar.
Over the past few years the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival has developed a reputation for the quality of the artistes it attracts and now ranks #1 on the list on the E! entertainment top 5 Festivals in the world.
In 2011 the St Lucia Jazz Festival celebrated its 20th anniversary which was a rare achievement as several other Jazz festivals established in the Caribbean region had failed. More recently, in 2013, Saint Lucia Jazz was rebranded as the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival. The rebranding included a fashion show branded as Saint Lucia HOT Couture, the Cultural Explosion, Saint Lucia Sound Stage, and Blu Session - Word in an Altered Scale. Dance, art, theatre and culinary arts formed part of the new rebranding experience.
Venues used to host performances include Pigeon Point National Park ("Main Stage" & "Side Lawn"), Derek Walcott Square in central Castries ("Jazz on the Square"), The Great House, Fond D'or Heritage Park, Rudy John Beach Park, Vieux Fort Square, Balenbouche Estate, (the previous three events making up "Jazz in the South"), Soufrière Waterfront, La Place Carenage ("Teatime Jazz"), Duty Free Pointe Seraphine ("Jazz on the Pier"), Rodney Bay Beachfront ("Jazz on the Beach"), Mindoo Phillip Park, Royal St. Lucian Hotel, Rodney Bay Marina and Gaiety on Rodney Bay.m