The staging of the 16th Annual Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival was indeed a memorable musical event and one of a series of premier music festivals honoring the country’s 50 years of independence. from British rule.
Headliner, Celine Dion, certainly did not disappoint the more than 20,000 patrons who witnessed the diva belt a series of smash hits, one after the other.
“Are you ready Jamaica?” she asked screaming fans mesmerized by her beauty, music,soul, and charm, who could not contain their applause.
But the night undoubtedly belonged to Damian Marley, who was accompanied for cameo performances by Stephen “Raggamuffin” Marley and son.
The Marley’s dominated the event with solid delivery of reggae hits and lover’s rock, such as: Justice, Hey Girl, There for You, Love and Inity, War/No More Trouble, Exodus/Move, Pimper’s Paradise, Traffic Jam, Mission, Written, Road to Zion.
But it was the befitting rendition of monster jam, Jamrock, that marked the stellar ending to the 16th Annual Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival and the continuing celebration of Jamaica 50!
The annual festival, dubbed The Art of Music, was held at the Trewlany Multi-Purpose Stadium, just outside Montego Bay, the Jamaica tourist capital and attracted over 20,000 patrons including a mix of Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica.
This year the festival began on Thursday, Jan. 26, with an all-reggae, diverse cast representing Jamaica’s music trend from Ska, to RockSteady, to Dancehall reggae.
Dion began her repertoire with, “I Drove All Night.” Then she took a personal moment to speak with the audience, commenting: It took us a few years to get to Jamaica, but tonight we’ll make up for lost time. Jamaica is so beautiful: beautiful weather, beautiful ocean, friendly people and great food.
“Honestly I can’t believe we are here!” she screamed.
Dion also took the opportunity to wish Jamaica, “Happy Fiftieth! Home to the reggae legend, Bob Marley, the birthplace of reggae, and the best place on the planet.”
With that, Jamaicans and patrons whom, she acknowledged over time have supported her career and love for her songs, hung on to every word and musical phrases from the diva and her backing band. The fans didn’t seem to mind her three wardrobe changes. Albeit, the set changes were brief.
Dion, certainly did not disappoint with the delivery of monster tunes, particularly from her 1996 Falling Into You album, but adored most for her ballads to the likes of: “Because You Loved Me”, the theme from Up Close and Personal; “All By Myself”, and “Beauty and the Beast”, a duet with Peabo Bryson; and “The Prayer”, a duet recorded with renowned Italian-tenor Andre Bocelli.
Adding an element of surprise, Jamaican born, singer and songwriter, Dianna King joined Celine for a cameo performance in the rendition of “Treat Her Like a Lady”. She ended with the heartfelt rendition of “My Heart Will Go On”.
Dion, the headliner for the festival was included on the Friday night lineup of singers: Jully Black, Nicole Henry, Tami Chynn & Tessane Chin, and Richie Stephens & Gentleman.
Saturday night was the night for Cee Loo Green to shine, seemingly the headliner for that evening. The cast included: Heads of State combination trio Bobby Brown, Johnny Gill, and Ralph Tresvant; The temptations Review, featuring Dennis Edwards; soca diva Destra Garcia, reggae-jazz guitarist, Earl Klugh, and Grammy-winning, Damian ‘Junior Gong’ Marley; son of the late Bob Marley with Cynthia (Cindy) Breakspeare, former Miss Jamaica and Miss World (1976).
R&B sensation Green, disappointed. There seem to be a disconnection with the audience and after a few songs his allure fizzled and the audience anxious to see him complete his set.