By Quinton J. Hobson
Possibly reacting to online criticism that the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival’s lineup was male dominated, organizers added two renowned songstresses.
After readers of St. Lucia News Online voiced their discontent with the annual festival’s lineup via the website’s comments section, the festival recently announced the all-star list will now include Trinidadian soca recording artist Destra and American R&B singer-songwriter Chrisette Michele.
According to its official website, the ever-popular music festival, whose performances and repertoire expand far beyond solely jazz, promises to amuse and entertain “cultural enthusiasts, festival lovers and music aficionados” by recruiting more than 50 performers from around the world.
Among them are Latin pop singer John Secada, R&B crooner Robin Thicke and legendary reggae musicians Jimmy Cliff and Beres Hammond.
Destra is slated to perform with her own Bakanal Band on opening day, April 30. She established herself as one of today’s leading soca acts as early as the mid-2000s with a lengthy string of chart-topping hits – the majority of which she has had a prominent hand in writing.
In contrast, New York-born Michele, a three-time Grammy Award-nominee and one-time winner with her hit single Be OK has collaborated with some of the music industry’s most prominent R&B and hip hop artists, namely will.i.am, Jay-Z, Ne-Yo and Kanye West.
The singer’s four studio albums have garnered significant success on the Billboard 200, with her second, Epiphany, peaking at No. 1 while reaping critical acclaim. Michele is to perform May 10 on Pigeon Island.
Director of Tourism Louis Lewis welcomes both artists, citing Destra as “a leading lady and a true Caribbean music ambassador who has established herself in a business typically dominated by males.”
Running for 11 days, the 24th Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival begins April 30 and concludes on May 10, featuring various performances throughout the island. For more information, visit www.stluciajazz.org.