CARIBBEAN artiste featured prominently at the three-day Roots and Soul festival in St Lucia. Jamaica’s Beenie Man thrilled fans at the Pigeon Island National Landmark where the festival was held from August 31-September 2.
His appearance at the finale on September 2 was just a cameo with American pop and R&B singer Ashanti, as she and rapper Ja Rule performed.
The minute Beenie Man’s signature chant “woah nah nah nah nah nah nah, oh nah nah nah nah nah nah” rang out on September 1, the show was on, as he made his way to the stage with his classic Sim Simma.
Dressed in a red sequinned tuxedo jacket and bow tie, white shirt and black pants, he delivered hit after hit, barely singing as the crowd finished verse and chorus.
Another Jamaican singer, Romain Virgo, commanded the stage on the final night, showing his versatility in song and dance to the delight of his fans. His feel-good music included a repertoire of Caribbean musical icons as well as American R&B artists.
In its second year, the Roots and Soul festival began with St Lucian artist Semi Francis and American songstress Deva Mahal entertaining at the Royalton hotel. Mahal, who released her debut album, Run Deep, a few months ago, delivered a high-quality performance. With influencers like Lauryn Hill, and a vocal style similar to Amy Winehouse, Mahal who is based in New York has places to go.
The chemistry on stage with her sister who sang back-up vocals was as intense as it was with her lead guitarist during their pore-raising spirituals Fire and Snakes.
St Lucian reggae artist Taj Weekes put on an excellent performances, leading a multinational band of musicians including fellow St Lucian Michael Aubertin. Weekes, whose unique voice captivated the audience, said his vocal ability came from years of singing to his father with his siblings and listening to his father sing to them as a child.
His songs “write themselves” he said, with the conscious lyrics coming out of “life itself.”
Ashanti and Ja Rule were the headline acts on the final night and they were entertaining. As they came on stage after a video clip filled with obscene language that emphasised their hits, hundreds of fans whipped out their phones to record the moment while the duo did a tag team of performances. Ashanti in a sequinned, carnival costume-like outfit that allowed her butt to be visually impacting, looked a couple dress sizes larger than the video which played on the screens behind her as she performed.
Three male fans, who were invited on stage, were handcuffed to a chair and blindfolded, as Ashanti and two back-up dancers did a lap dance on them on the red-lighted stage. The biggest reaction from the fans, who sang along mainly to Ja Rule’s music, was when Beenie Man made not one but two appearances to dance along with Ashanti.
St Lucia’s Minister of Tourism, Information and Broadcasting Dominic Fedee said the summer festival was an investment by his government which rebranded the internationally known Jazz and Arts festival to return to its origins to the delight of jazz purists.
So, instead of one they now have two festivals intended to bring visitors to the island during the low tourist arrival season.