St. Lucia Jazz Festival strikes a new chord

June 16, 2008 –  The recently concluded St. Lucia Jazz festival was one of the most successful in the 17 year history of the world renowned event, say organizers of the landmark Caribbean music festival.

Senator Allen Chastanet, St. Lucia’s Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, and Paxton Baker, President of BET Event Productions, who together founded the festival in 1992, report that the high quality of the event coupled with the record number of locals and visitors attending St. Lucia Jazz significantly raised the bar.

“Our stay-over visitor arrivals increased by 10 percent in May over last year, and this was in no small measure to the positioning of the festival in the marketplace,” said Senator Chastanet, who added that new and improved changes to the production, including world class, cutting edge sound and lighting as well as high definition video projection on the grounds of Pigeon Island enhanced the 2008 festival.

St. Lucia Jazz, produced by BET Event Productions and promoted on top cable networks BET and BET J, featured Michael Bolton, Air Supply, Angie Stone, Anita Baker, Dianne Reeves, Dionne Warwick, Jonathan Butler, Najee and Wyclef Jean. A 30 minute programming special hosted by new BET J show host Jeanille Bonterre will air on both BET J and BET later this year.

Senator Chastanet congratulated BET Event Productions and the local production teams for a professionally produced festival which “blew away” the artistes. “That’s the benefit of having BET Event Productions here – with the multitude of events they do around the world, the contacts they make and the technology they share with our island, it is truly a blessing,” he said.

“It’s the best St. Lucia Jazz festival that we have done from an execution point of view,” said BET’s Paxton Baker, who doubles as Executive Vice President of BET Digital Networks. “It’s been incredible – but then, our goal every year is to make the presentation that more special and unique,” said Baker, who thanked the St. Lucia Tourist Board for being excellent partners and hosts.

“The relationship has been a long term relationship, every year we are thankful, every year we plan to do more, and it’s worked for 17 years,” said Baker, who described St. Lucia as the “Grand-daddy” of its popular and unique Caribbean events.

“St. Lucia now hopes to maintain our position as one of the region’s most anticipated festivals,” said Senator Chastanet, who believes that with new hotel rooms coming on stream over the next year, the festival will increase in size and stature in the future.

Other festival acts included the Juilliard Quintet featuring saxophonist Ron Blake, trumpeter Eddie Henderson, drummer Carl Allen and bassist Ben Wolfe. Also showcasing their skills at St. Lucia Jazz were saxophonist Jacques Schwartz-Bart; keyboardist Alex Bugnon, guitarist Nick Colionne and neo-soul singer Ledisi; along with top local and Caribbean performers.

While focusing on straight jazz, the 10-day jazz celebration also features acoustic, new age, jazz, soul, fusion, R&B and Hip Hop, and is held in a variety of locations and venues around the island.