NEW YORK, N.Y. – Walter Elmore, president of Turn-Key Productions, who produces the annual Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, believes in helping spur the growth of young musicians. In 2006, Elmore used the annual Festival to launch the first “Art of Music Workshop,” to help mold young, Jamaican musicians.
The workshop was created because organizers recognize the importance of hands-on training and first-hand knowledge that students can develop by direct contact with established professionals, said the executive producer of the Festival recently.
“It really is a unique opportunity for these young performers, as it promotes cultural and educational opportunities for musically talented youth and aspiring musicians in Jamaica that they would not normally have access to” said Elmore, who has been involved with the Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival since it’s inception in 1996. He also revealed plans to establish a scholarship for young musicians.
The inaugural workshop was hosted on January 26, 2006 at the Half Moon Shopping Village in Montego Bay, Jamaica and featured industry professionals like Reinaldo Monroig, Jose Hernandez, Lukes Morgan, Lyfe Jennings, and Nestor Torres, sharing their knowledge and experience with the aspiring musicians on topics that ranged from access to international promoters, radio stations in the US, and industry professionals.
Those benefiting from the workshop included the PACE Band, one of the few young bands that won an island wide audition for a chance to perform on the Ocean Spray Stage for the thousands who attended the festival. The Ocean Spray Stage features upcoming bands and is located near the food court at the Festival. Other attendees included students from the School of Music, Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, and aspiring musicians.
This year, in October, 2006, Elmore launched the JazzFest Quest to find the best undiscovered jazz, blues, Latin, and reggae musicians across the U.S., in New York, Atlanta, Baltimore and South Florida. The best acts, like J.D. Smooth, Peter Humphrey and the Oasis Band and Jacky & Strings won an all-expenses paid trip to perform live in Montego Bay, Jamaica and a chance to be discovered.
The annual Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival enters its 10th year next January and will take place at the Aqueduct at Rose Hall, from Jan. 23-27, 2007.