Last updated: 04:00 PM ET, Wed March 11 2015

Summer 2015 Caribbean Music Festivals Feature Jazz And Beyond

Destination & Tourism | Brian Major | March 11, 2015

Summer 2015 Caribbean Music Festivals Feature Jazz And Beyond

PHOTO: St. Lucia’s Pigeon Island National Park will host Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival events in April. (Photo by Brian Major)

In recent years, summer jazz music festivals have become as much a part of the Caribbean travel experience as sea, sun and sand.

But what began with a focus on the mainstream jazz genre has blossomed in recent years to include an ever-expanding array of musical styles and artists, from R&B to calypso, popular music, dancehall and soca.

This year’ Caribbean jazz and music festivals will feature what is likely the most diverse musical presentation yet, with a variety of the most popular Caribbean destinations getting into the act, so to speak. The presentations planned at various Caribbean islands even include a music festival dedicated to blues.

Of course because all of the events take place in the Caribbean, each promises to feature an abundance of regional food and easygoing cultural attractions and activities. In short, visitors can expect to encounter plenty of sun, sand and good sounds. Here’s a list of events planned for 2015:  

Curacao: The inaugural Curaçao International BlueSeas Festival, a celebration of “traditional and gentrified” jazz music is slated for May 7 to 9. Main performances are scheduled for the stage at Kleine Werf in downtown Punda. Nine artists will also offer free concerts on the streets of Blues Village in Willemstad’s Pietermaai Smal district on May 7 and 8.

Scheduled performers include legendary blues guitarist Buddy Guy, the Original Blues Brothers, and new artists Kat Riggins, The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band and Moreland & Arbuckle.

“We’re excited to offer visitors even more opportunities to enjoy live music and performances on island, particularly within the jazz and blues realm,” said Hugo Clarinda, the Curaçao Tourist Board’s deputy director. “Visitors will find the island’s vibrant lifestyle and intimate venues a perfect match to compliment the atmosphere of this new festival.”

Saint Lucia: The 24th edition of the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival is slated for April 30 to May 10 at various locations. Main stage events will launch on May 8 at Pigeon Island National Park.  

Recently added to the lineup were Grammy Award-winning R&B singer and songwriter Chrisette Michele, and Trinidadian soca singer and songwriter Destra Garcia. “We are thrilled to further diversify an already impressive lineup with the likes of Chrisette Michele and Destra," said Louis Lewis, director of the Saint Lucia Tourist Board, which sponsors the annual festival.  “Destra is a leading lady and a true Caribbean music ambassador who has established herself in a business typically dominated by males.”

Other featured performers will include the iconic Jamaican reggae musician and actor Jimmy Cliff; Jon Secada, a two-time Grammy Award winner; American rapper Flo Rida; two-time Grammy nominee Joey DeFranceso and pop singer Robin Thicke.  

Trinidad & Tobago: The 2015 Tobago Jazz Experience will run from April 19 to 26 with performances slated for the Tobago coastal town of Speyside, Tobago’s Pigeon Point Heritage Park and at other sites across the dual-island nation. The event will offer a truly outstanding array of artists, including recording star and actress Jennifer Hudson, legendary R&B band Kool and the Gang and highly regarded singer-songwriter Jill Scott.

Recently added to the lineup were Jamaican dancehall stars Romain Virgo and Busy Signal; also slated to perform are Miguel, David Rudder and soca star Olatunji. The event is sponsored by Tobago’s Division of Tourism and Transportation.

“[Tobago] hotels, guest houses and bed-and-breakfast properties are all full during this time,” said Tracy Davidson-Celestine, Tobago’s secretary of tourism and transportation. “This means waiters, taxi drivers, street food vendors, bar owners are just a few who benefit from the Tobago Jazz Experience.”

St. Kitts: The 19th edition of the St. Kitts Music Festival takes place on June 25 to 27 at Warner Park Stadium. The Festival features traditionally features a wide range of musical styles including R&B, jazz, hip-hop, reggae, rock, calypso, gospel and contemporary music.

Artists for this year’s event have yet to be announced. Past performers include John Legend, Lionel Richie, Michael Bolton, K.C. and the Sunshine Band, Damian Marley and Shaggy. The festival “has grown over the years into a unique event that showcases international music stars alongside rising local and Caribbean acts,” said Lindsay Grant, St. Kitts’ tourism minister.

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