St. Lucia set for musical jazz explosion next month

RODNEY BAY VILLAGE, St. Lucia – St. Lucian hotelier Feolla Chastanet is hopeful the 2009 Jazz festival, slated from May 2 to 10, will be a big draw for the traveling public with British Grammy-winning stars Amy Winehouse and Estelle recently added to a stellar line-up of musical greats, including Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, James Ingram and Bebe Winans.

Chastanet, managing director of the boutique Coco Palm property in Rodney Bay, said the decision to feature Winehouse – who won five Grammys at the 2008 awards and whose absence from the United States entertainment arena has been noticeable – has generated great attention and press coverage for the upcoming festival, especially in the mainstream entertainment media in North America.

“We hope this translates into more aficionados visiting St. Lucia for the18th edition of the festival,” said Chastanet, who believes that top local musicians such as guitarist Ronald “Boo” Hinkson, saxophonist Barbara Cadet, singers Michel Aubertin, Teddyson John, Nicole David, and a host of other local performers, will help to boost St. Lucia’s music industry, its Creole culture and the island’s appeal in the international marketplace.

Veteran festival performer “Boo” Hinkson reflected: “In terms of dollars and cents, we could not even quantify the value of the publicity we get from the festival. It makes us a far better known destination and it has exposed our people to the best music and musicianship in the world.” He recommended that St. Lucian music continue to be used as a platform to promote the island, especially with the incredible amount of talent yet to be fully showcased.

Set to perform on Pigeon Island’s main stage on Thursday, May 7 will be Jamaica’s Original Wailers, the former reggae band of Bob Marley; Grammy winner Angelique Kidjo from Benin; and the popular French Antillean group Kassav.

On Friday, May 8, Amy Winehouse, KC and the Sunshine Band and local singer Shayne Ross have been confirmed.

Saturday’s line-up features the legendary George Duke who will team with Grammy winners Bebe Winans and James Ingram as well as Jeffrey Osborne and Teddyson John. Also on Saturday’s program are “Boo” Hinkson, Michel Aubertin, Estelle and Michael McDonald.

George Duke returns on Sunday to support performances by Grammy winners Patti LaBelle and Chaka Khan as well as local singing sensation Nicole David. The UK-based Fate Sister; a local Pan Jazz band with Allison Marquis; famous American rock band Chicago; and reggae sensation Beres Hammond complete the line-up.

Slated for the indoor venue at Gaiety in Rodney Bay on Tuesday, May 5 are Jamaica’s Monty Alexander Jazz and Roots as well as a Dean Fraser ensemble. On Wednesday, May 6 at Gaiety, The Luther François and Emerson Nurse Quintet from St. Lucia as well as Barbara Cadet and Frenchman Khalid Kouhen will take center stage.

Chastanet encourages visitors to make plans expeditiously for the festival. “We still have rooms for the final weekend of Jazz, but they won’t last for very long,” she predicted.

Located in the heart of St. Lucia’s entertainment capital – Rodney Bay Village – the award-winning Coco Palm caters to the savvy traveler looking for a chic boutique hotel with affordable rates and uncompromising standards of style and service.

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