As the servers glided effortlessly between tables inside the private dining room of the Brazilian steakhouse located within Puerto Rico’s Distrito T-Mobile, the Hon. Dr. Ernest Hilaire, St. Lucia’s Minister of Tourism, posed a question to the room: “Who would you like to see headline next year’s St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival?”
His dining partners were a mix of his staff and attendees of the Caribbean Hospitality and Tourism Association convention, and in that moment every single person in the packed room lit up and shouted famous music artist names as if we were nominating for the Grammys. John Legend, Usher, Rihanna, Jay-Z, Beyoncé—the fame escalated with each new recommendation, and Dr. Hilaire even tossed Norah Jones into the mix, almost as if he was asking the universe to make it happen.
It was obvious that none of the stars we suggested would make the cut, but the point behind his question was simple: this year’s event is going to be a big one. Sure enough, Dr. Helaire and his team proved the point by announcing this week that St. Lucia’s festival will be headlined by Sting and Shaggy. And even as big as that sounds, it’s only the cherry on top for 10 days of unforgettable thrills.
“The 2023 Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival promises to be the best yet, as we continue our tradition of hosting the Caribbean’s premier jazz and arts event,” Dr. Helaire declared. “The Festival will showcase music, the performing arts, fine arts, creole cuisine, and the effervescence of Saint Lucia’s creative industries.”
The kick-off event takes place on Friday, May 5, with Kes the Band and reggae star Shenseea, and the next three days will be highlighted by a variety of local entertainers and community jazz performances. Wednesday, May 10, will be the Kingdom Gospel Night, while Thursday’s Pure Jazz celebration will feature Grammy winner Gustavo Casenave and a tribute to Luther François, the godfather of St. Lucia jazz.
On Friday, Buju Banton, Bunji Garlin, and Fay Ann Lyons will lead the Caribbean Fusion showcase, and Saturday’s World Beats celebration will take guests around the world with Afro beats from Rema, Ayra Starr, CKay, and Kizz Daniel. And, of course, if everyone has a little energy left, they’ll head to the “Ultimate Celebration,” a Mother’s Day party unlike any other with Sting and Shaggy with beautiful Pigeon Island National Park as the backdrop.
All the while, the island’s best artists will entertain visitors with visual and literary arts, theater, fashion, and plenty of crafts and souvenirs. The “Art and the City” concept will take place May 7-11 in Derek Walcott Square, William Peter Boulevard, Constitution Park, Pointe Seraphine, and Serenity Park.