Caribbean Beat Magazine

St Lucia Jazz returns to its roots

John Legend headlines an impressive cast of performers that includes jazz performers such as Tania Maria and Will Downing

  • Five-time Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter John Legend. Photograph courtesy St Lucia Tourist Board

Jazz lovers rejoice. In the midst of growing regional debate about jazz festivals that don’t contain much jazz, if any at all, St Lucia Jazz is promising to live up to its title.

This year, the festival will feature a much heavier jazz package than in previous years, when more popular R&B acts dominated.

George Benson, legendary jazz guitarist, will take the main stage on Pigeon Island alongside jazz singer Al Jarreau. The duo collaborated on Benson’s new CD Givin’ It Up, which was nominated for three Grammy awards. R&B and jazz singer Will Downing is also scheduled to appear, and will share the stage with saxophonist Gerald Albright.

Pianist and singer Tania Maria, Latin jazz musician Pete Escovedo, musician David Murray, and vocalists Natalie Cole, Isaac Hayes, Jonathan Butler and Norman Brown round out the impressive cast.

The R&B lovers haven’t been forgotten, though. Grammy-award winning crooner John Legend will be in concert, no doubt performing hits off his new album Once Again. Regional performers include Blue Mango and Boo Hinkson and friends.

“Our new director, Maria Fowell, wanted the festival to go back to its core musical genre,” explained Kirby Allain, public relations officer for the St Lucia tourist board. “Jazz is infused in every performance on the island.”

In 2007, the tourist board will only be responsible for the Pigeon Island events. The other jazz shows—Jazz in the Square, Fond D’or Jazz and Jazz in the South—will all be managed by the private sector.

“The only thing that has changed is the management of the events, nothing else will be different,” Allain assured, also noting that those events will no longer be called “fringe” events as they have been in the past.

With only Pigeon Island to manage, the tourist board is going all out to ensure patrons enjoy the shows in the perfect setting. The craft village will be contained in air-conditioned tents, concessionaires will be housed in chattel houses and the corporate, VIP and media areas will be enhanced for maximum comfort.

St Lucia Jazz runs from May 4 to 13. For more information visit