CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Apr. 26, CMC – The Rhythm and Blues diva and actress Diana Ross and Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Toni Braxton are to headline the St. Lucia Jazz Festival opening on Monday, organisers here said.
The two are among over 50 artists set to perform from April 30 to May13 against several scenic backdrops, from the signature Caribbean Sea coast at the Pigeon Island National Landmark, and rustic village settings like Fond D’Or in Dennery on the island’s rugged east coast and Rudy John Beach Park in the southwestern fishing village of Laborie to the seaside at the Pointe Seraphine port in the heart of the capital, Castries.
Ross and Braxton replace Lionel Richie who pulled out of the festival citing other engagements, the St Lucia Tourist Board said.
“While we were disappointed at the withdrawal of Lionel Richie, we are delighted to announce the additions of Diane Ross — a legend in her own right – and songstress Toni Braxton, a multiple Grammy winner,” said SLTB director Louis Lewis.
“The longevity of St Lucia Jazz is testament to constant innovation and determination which is warranted to ensure that as a product, t Lucia Jazz remains fresh and exciting, so as to sustain public appeal and visitor attraction,” Lewis said.
The tourism official said this year the 21-year-old festival featured a “reduced yet more robust, jazz-centric” lineup reflecting pure, smooth, Caribbean and Creole jazz with “touches of R&B and world musical genres, and a more cohesive grouping of supporting community-based jazz events, which continue to define St Lucia Jazz”.
The legendary South African jazz trumpeter Hugh Masekela, five-time Grammy-winning Reggae artiste Ziggy Marley, the son of iconic reggae legend Bob Marley, and American jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman are also down to perform at the festival.
Headlining the festival’s opening show on Monday are Trinidadian soca couple Fay Ann Lyons and Bunji Garland, Jamaica dancehall artiste Busy Signal and local singing sensation Teddyson John.
Rounding out the cast of top acts for the show are the hit R&B song-writer-turned performer Keri Hilson, pop and hip-hop phenomenon Melanie Fiona and gospel star Kirk Franklin, along with several of St Lucia’s leading musicians.