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Caribbean Music Festivals Draw Big Name Acts

630x355By Brian Major From Travel Pulse

PHOTO: Musician Bruno Mars will headline the Curacao North Sea Jazz Festival in August. (Splash News,

There’s only one sure way to improve on the Caribbean’s beautiful blue waters, sunny skies and wonderfully warm temperatures – add some music! Several islands across the region are hosting jazz and music festivals in 2014, featuring performers that range from internationally recognized stars to classic acts known to generations of fans to talented singers and musicians who probably aren’t well known outside of their island homes.

Caribbean music festivals have come of age in recent years, as more travelers seek out live music experiences that provide the ideal accompaniment to the Caribbean’s magnificent natural beauty. For performers, Caribbean music festivals offer coveted (and highly pleasurable) performance opportunities in a changing music landscape that highly values live entertainment.

This year, a broad variety of contemporary artists, from A-list global stars, to classic acts playing to their core audiences, to yet-undiscovered but stirring local artists, will be featured at regional Caribbean music festivals.

Top Shelf Sounds

While more than a score of Caribbean music festivals are on tap for 2014, there are of course a handful of must-see events.

The St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival, scheduled for April 30 to May 11, will celebrate its twenty-third year in existence in 2014. Like many of the Caribbean music festivals nominally dedicated to jazz, the St. Lucia festival’s lineup includes performers also associated with the pop, soul, R&B and rock genres.

This year’s headliners are Grammy-award winning American R&B singer-songwriter Maxwell and the legendary American soul band The Commodores.

Other performers will include Tony- and Grammy-award winning singer Dee Dee Bridgewater; American R&B singer, songwriter and producer Kem; Grammy nominated Cuban composer and bandleader and Omar Sosa; Nigerian R&B duo P-Square and Tessanne Chin, the Jamaican-born winner of season five of “The Voice.”  Local and regional musical talents include Jamaican pianist Monty Alexander and jazz band Blue Mango featuring Emiline Michel and James Germain.

The event will offer 65 performances than 65 musical performances, with the main events held at St. Lucia’s Pigeon Island National Park. Festival concerts will also be held at Vieux Fort and Rudy John Beach Park in the southwest village of Laborie.

Jazz is often (and accurately) described as America’s classical music. But for devotees of reggae, dancehall, soca and the multitude of musical forms that originated across the Caribbean, Jamaica’s Reggae Sumfest is undoubtedly among the world’s most anticipated events.

Previously known as Reggae Sunsplash, the Jamaican concert series is dedicated to showcasing “our indigenous reggae music while also promoting Montego Bay as a prime tourist destination,” according to the event’s organizers. This year’s event takes place July 13 to 19 at Montego Bay’s Catherine Hall Sports Complex, and will feature Tessanne Chin, to date the only artist confirmed by organizers.

Previous Sunfest events have featured celebrated Jamaican reggae and dancehall “artistes” including Shaggy, Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Sizzla, Steel Pulse, Shabba Ranks, Ziggy Marley, Beres Hammond, Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs and Buju Banton. Past Sunfest events have also featured rap, R&B and pop artists including Usher, Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys, Tito Jackson, Kanye West, Lionel Richie, Jay-Z, Keshia Cole and Nas.

Party in Paradise

Other Caribbean music festivals combine entertaining musical performances with the destination’s most picturesque locales. The Tobago Jazz Experience, now in its fifth year, will offer numerous performances from April 19 to 27, highlighted by nine-time Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter John Legend;  legendary R&B band Earth, Wind and Fire and Grammy-winning soul singer Brandy and singer-songwriter Keyshia Cole, all of whom will perform at Tobago’s Pigeon Point Heritage Park.

Other performances will be held at tourist sites around Tobago. The village of Speyside, known locally as a leading center for dive excursions, will host performances by top soca performers and emerging artists from within Trinidad and Tobago on the first day of the event. Tobago’s Signal Hill, which features magnificent coastline views, will host a “Hillside Jazz,” event on April 20, where upcoming talent will showcase their creativity.

On April 23, Tobago’s Milford Road Esplanade will host “Jazz on the Waterfront,” a “New Orleans-style affair” featuring simultaneous performances by acoustic solo artists, duets and bands amidst local vendors offering local crafts and cuisine.

Also On the Schedule

Barbados will host a Reggae Festival from April 21 to 28 featuring performances at Farley Hill National Park and Kensington Oval.

Barbados Gospelfest is slated for May 17 to 25 and will feature Grammy-winning gospel music artist Hezekiah Walker.

The Curacao North Sea Jazz Festival will take place August 28 to 30 and feature headliner Bruno Mars, fresh off his celebrated Super Bowl performance.

Aruba’s Soul Beach Music Festival will take place May 21 to 26 and features Robin Thicke.

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  1. This is a very good article, one day you guys should come visit the Caribbean island of Grenada, its very beautiful and the music um um ah cant done talking 🙂


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