Basseterre, St. Kitts (June 28, 2011) – Genres, generations and nations all came together in an inspiring celebration of music and culture this past weekend at the 15th Annual St. Kitts Music Festival, which took place in the island’s Capital, Basseterre, from June 22-25.
Visitors from North America, the U.K. and neighboring Caribbean islands filled local hotels and joined St. Kitts & Nevis residents nightly at the Warner Park venue in a truly international event. “It’s gratifying to see how the St. Kitts Music Festival has grown over the years into a unique event that showcases international music stars alongside rising local and Caribbean acts,” said Senator Ricky Skerritt, Minister of Tourism & International Transport and Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization. “We have worked hard to cultivate a multi-genre, block party style event that unites people through music and drives visitors to St. Kitts during low season. I can say with certainty that this year’s Festival has succeeded in meeting both those objectives.”
Top performances by Fantasia, Bunny Wailer, The Commodores, Ali Campbell, Gyptian and Jah Cure were the foundation for what has been described as a great weekend party experience in St. Kitts. Starting off the first night of the Festival on Thursday were high-energy performances by The Kore featuring Gharlic, XMan and St. Kitts’ beloved King Konris as well as calypso icon Mic Stokes. Legendary reggae performer Bunny Wailer, formerly of Bob Marley & the Wailers, had the crowd singing along to hit Bob Marley songs as well as his own music. UB40’s Ali Campbell kept Festival-goers “groovin’” with his hits such as “Kingston Town” and “Red, Red Wine.” Wrapping up the evening’s performances were Small Axe Band and Nu Vybes Band International, who kept the action going strong until sunrise.
The world-class performances continued on night two, starting with dancehall pioneer Yellowman. After stating earlier, “I hope you can keep up with my energy… tonight is going to be great,” he followed through, getting people on their feet for his classics “Bam Bam” and “King of the Dancehall.” He was followed by Jamaica reggae artist Cocoa Tea, who embodied old school reggae with his popular tunes.
The entire crowd pressed closer to the stage for Maxi Priest, who had the audience singing jubilantly along with his tracks, “That Girl” and “Wild World” and surprised spectators by having his son, Martin Priest, join him on stage. Up and coming Jamaican artists Black Ryno and Konshens each added their own unique sounds to the night’s rhythm, while producer-turned-singer Demarco belted out hits such as, “I Love My Life,” engaging the audience by inviting a few lucky ladies to dance onstage.
Bringing down the curtains on Friday was rising sensation Gyptian, who concluded the evening on a high note with his chart-toppers, “I Can Feel Your Pain” and “Mama Don’t Cry.”
The house was packed for the final night of the Festival. Jazz band “East Meets West” headed by Paul Peress led the line-up, winning the hearts of the crowd with their new song “Sugar City,” which they announced was inspired by the island. At that morning’s press conference, Paul remarked, “I performed here for the first time in 1996 and I’ve watched this Music Festival grow. I feel like a Kittitian, at least by adoption.”
A roaring welcome then went out to The Commodores, who held the audience’s undivided attention by belting out hit after hit from “Easy” to “Three Times A Lady” and fan favorite, “Brick House.”
Just when it seemed that the show couldn’t get any better, American-Idol Season 3 winner Fantasia proceeded to kick off her heels and stride onto the stage to give St. Kitts a stellar performance. Asking for the barricade to be moved so that she could be closer to and connect with her audience, she sang her hits including “Free Yourself,” “Collard Greens and Cornbread” and “Even Angels Learn How To Fly.”
Finale act Jah Cure kept everyone dancing and swaying to the music, performing “Respect,” “Prison Walls” and “Run Come Love Me Tonight,” at one point even taking off his shirt and stepping off the stage into the audience to sing.
Now in its 15th consecutive year, the St. Kitts Music Festival attracts both locals and visitors alike, featuring various musical styles including R&B, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Reggae, Soca, Calypso, Gospel and Contemporary music. Past artists have included such prominent acts as John Legend, T-Pain, Michael Bolton, K.C. and the Sunshine Band, Wyclef Jean, Ne-Yo, Air Supply, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Dionne Warwick, Billy Ocean, Sean Paul, Boyz II Men, King Konris, Stephen Marley, Regina Belle, Maxi Priest, Biggie Irie and Lord Nelson.
In recent months, St. Kitts was named a top destination for 2011 by both AOL Travel and British Airways. Located in the northern Leeward Islands of the Caribbean, St. Kitts offers a diverse tourism product developed from the destination’s natural beauty, cultural heritage and rich history. The island’s stunning variety of tourism attractions include hiking through the tropical rainforest, riding the scenic railway that connects the island’s former sugar plantations, visiting the Caribelle Batik factory, touring Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, the only man-made UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Eastern Caribbean, and the more traditional vacation pastimes such as water sports, golf, shopping, tennis, gourmet dining, gaming at one of St. Kitts’ two casinos or simply relaxing on one of the island’s sandy beaches. Accommodations range from intimate plantation inns to larger hotels or resorts.