Spirit of the Caribbean festival celebrates culture

Haitian singer “Sybelle” performing “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

The “Spirit of the Caribbean” was certainly felt by scores of nationals and friends, who crammed the front lawn of the Jamaica Performance Center on Saturday, Aug. 3, to get a taste of culture and entertainment on a beautiful summer’s afternoon.

Presented by the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (JCAL) and VP Records, the 2nd annual festival, collaborated with Caribbean consulates to celebrate Caribbean nations, while sharing the beauty, food, arts and craft, and tourism opportunities with the world.

While Guyana showcased its rich products, art, and history, topped with samples of its diverse cuisine, Trinidad & Tobago exhibited images of its colorful historic carnival and gave patrons a slice of all that’s nice of the twin island.

Littered with colorful elements of the West Indies, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Jamaica, and the Bahamas, brought their unique beauty and craftsmanship to inquiring eyes and minds that learned about all the islands bustling vacation packages.

Most prominent was co-sponsor VP Records, whose banner showcased the label’s ‘Miles Ahead in Reggae and Soca — the largest Reggae Music Label” celebrating 40 years.

The famous brand has represented the late great Bob Marley, Buju Banton, Busy Signal, Beres Hammond, and many others.

The afternoon’s music however, made the hearts glad. Patrons were brought to their feet during a delightful hours-long program packed with reggae, calypso, folk, soca and instrumentalists.

Popular Guyanese-American singer, actor, Courtney Noël, opened the show with his signature song. “I love my Golden Arrowhead,” an ode to Guyana’s colorful flag.

Noël who will be honored with the Guyana Cultural Association GCA) Award on Aug. 28 at Brooklyn Borough Hall, and whose latest song “All My Love” is trending and available for purchase on ITunes, Apple Music Spotify, and Amazon, wowed the audience and made way for another young Guyanese artiste.

Empress Petra Hooper, daughter of late legend, calyposian, Eddie Hooper, aka Lord Inventor, whose original compositions, Jean and Dinah, and Queens Canary, were make popular by the Mighty Sparrow, delighted the audience.

Young Hooper, who kicked off her career, in 2014, gave the audience a taste of her melodious voice.

Empress Petra, describes herself as a world artiste, who has the freedom to express herself in all genre of music.

The exciting lineup continued with Panist, Ricardo Jerome of T&T, Guyanese, Khyume Khan – Indian Dance medley, and Verna Walcott – Impressions Dance Theater’s Masquerade fusion, accompanied by Guyanese, Akoyow Rudder on the African drum.

Instrumentalist, Djembe of Africa, and singer Lyrical Boyz of Saint Lucia took to the stage followed by Haitian singer and guitarist Sybelle’s unique version of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” that received resounding applause.

Haitian band Zafem then joined the audience to celebrate the country’s rich cultural heritage.

Patricia Bridgewater of St. Kitts and Nevis in turn presented the “Chronology of the Island” to celebrate the history of her homeland.

Thanks to Deejay Bajan King, the Spirit of the Caribbean festival, truly represented all that is beautiful about the region.

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