The St. Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival had a picnic-like atmosphere from the start of the day on May 13 as shown by beach chairs, blankets, and an overall mood searching for entertainment.
However, a rumor of an “altercation” backstage between the event’s organizer, St. Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA), and one of the Afrobeats artists crushed hopes for African greatness and prevented Joeboy and announced headliner Kizz Daniel from performing.
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According to reports from an SLTA official, a high-ranking official of the organization issued a firm warning to desist from using profanity onstage because children were present at the family-friendly event after hearing an Afrobeats artist, the DJ/hype man for the Afrobeats stars, openly employ expletives to urge the audience participation, “Make some f***ing noise.”
The DJ apologized to the crowd and said he was sorry for not realizing there were kids there.
However, the rest of the lineup—including Joeboy and Kizz Daniel, who never left his hotel room—was cut short after a second Afrobeats artist swore onstage.
In response, Joeboy wrote on Instagram: We were not given a memo that we couldn’t use any curse words on stage…I was willing to perform but I was told I couldn’t and one of the promoters threatened to call security on us and also get us arrested.”
Leaving aside the drama, the event’s continuing musical diversity made it a huge audience-building exercise. The Venezuelan band Alfredo Naranjo Quintet performed on the main stage for global music, bringing a Hispanic touch to the Kwéyl zouk and African modernist mood.
More than 10,000 people, according to preliminary estimates, gathered on Pigeon Island National Landmark Park on the night of World Beats. To accommodate the variety of performances, the park had two stages. The second stage, known as the Bacchanal Stage, let well-known local DJs Hollywood HP and Scady perform among many Dennery Segment and Bouyon musicians. With costumed dancers assisting and featuring carnival advertisements on the video screens, this approach successfully branded this stage as a sort of sales point for the impending St. Lucia Carnival in July.
As a predecessor to the Africans and Kassav’, St. Lucians Kayo and Michael Robinson presented a popular and chauvinistic Lucian flavor. The masses outside the front of the stage, who were searching for authentic Afrobeats and zouk rather than a West Indies-born clone, may have missed Kayo’s current R&B. The outcome was a largely flat response.
Despite considerable petulance onstage and offstage, Robinson was a success. He made a point of censoring St. Lucian artists’ live performances during his onstage tirade. The music industry needs local talent to expand. Generic descriptions like “World Beats,” which include music from every genre to appeal to certain niche audiences, can be overused to describe themed nights. Collectively, this might not work because streaming has commoditized many people’s listening preferences in the contemporary music industry.
The huge crowd for a multi-genre performance with two stars dictating the direction may potentially be a drawback. Although seamless transitions and continuous music may be possible with two stages, audiences are now divided. Although the crush of people may help achieve tourist objectives, the artist frequently gets left behind, and as the length of the exhibitions increases, it appears as though the teething issues are self-inflicted.
Beginning with the backup band Kingsmen, the Afrobeats part began. Oxlade was first in line. It has been noticed that many Afrobeats musicians record their music rather than necessarily do live performances. It was clear that he was only using eight feet of the stage’s 60-foot width. Unfortunately, his body language sent the message “I can only fit on a cellphone screen, not a large stage with thousands spread out wide and deep.”
Hip hop from the early 2000s had a “bling bling” image that Afrobeats emulates. In the sweltering heat of the Gros Islet night, sweaters and sunglasses imitated an outmoded metropolitan cool and hipness. One popular song and a hype man’s encouragements were all that the audience could react to; the DJ generated more excitement by playing songs by absentee Afrobeats acts than by the performers here.
The following performer, CKay, changed the performance’s look. Better use of the stage was appreciated, although it seemed odd that an African performer in the tropics would wear the same heavy wool sweater as a hip-hop-inspired outfit. His weak voice, which was highly nasal and unprojected, served to highlight the musicians’ regrettably subpar performances.
Fortunately for Ayra Starr and the crowd, Bloody Samaritan and Rush are both huge hits. She sang and danced while knowing just how to dress for the dry season. She had the crowd, who appeared to be mostly young ladies, in the palm of her hands. It succeeded.
Everyone wanted to be front and center to witness Kassav’s next performance, so nobody wanted to give that up. It was funny to hear the young people pressed up against the media pit barrier singing the Dennery-segment songs that were played and sung on the Bacchanal Stage while remaining in place. There were people from other countries there when a roll call asked, “Anybody out there from..?”
Then someone gave the suggestion, “If you sitting on the ground in the park and you get trampled, don’t blame the zouk.” When Kassav’ came on stage, the St. Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival was completely altered for more than 90 minutes.
Since Kwéyl is recognized as an official language in St. Lucia, its citizens have the advantage of knowing the real significance of Kassav’. The T&T people are doomed if language prevents them from appreciating the beauty of Caribbean music to its fullest. They would have missed this performance if it weren’t for the music and pulsing rhythms that might awaken any soulless entity that had been slumbered.
This powerful performance served as a memorial to band founder Jacob Desvarieux, who collaborated with Machel on the duet Dancè in 2019. A cheerful presence made the adjustment from Jacob’s demise easier to accept was longtime lead vocalist Jocelyne Béroard. Consistency was ensured. The entire event took place in Kwéyl. Although the dated dance may evoke some nostalgia, this band is nonetheless polished, tidy, and entertaining. It was clear that the talented band and its songs are loved and this was displayed throughout the energetic crowd.