2012 Artiste Biographies

Joshua Redman
Joshua Redman is one of the most acclaimed and charismatic jazz artistes to have emerged in the decade of the 1990s. Born in Berkeley, California, he is the son of legendary saxophonist Dewey Redman and dancer Renee Shedroff. He was exposed at an early age to a variety of music and began playing clarinet at age nine before switching to what became his primary instrument, the tenor saxophone, one year later. Redman quickly began jamming and gigging regularly with some of the leading jazz musicians of his generation. To date he has been nominated for 2 Grammys and has garnered top honors in critics and readers polls of DownBeat, Jazz Times, The Village Voice and Rolling Stone. He wrote and performed the music for Louis Malle's final film Vanya on 42nd Street, and is both seen and heard in the Robert Altman film Kansas City.

Ronald Boo Hinkson's
Ronald Boo Hinkson's talent transcends cultures and sounds, bringing a fresh and innovative blend to jazz and Caribbean music. A gifted composer, producer and heralded guitarist, Boo's unique approach and versatility enable him to deliver a distinctive signature sound. Today, he is an exceptionally accomplished musician who has stayed true to not only his jazz roots, but also to his West Indian culture. His performance track record includes international stages from the Caribbean, to the U.S., Europe, and most recently New York's Lincoln Center with International Superstar Hugh Masekela. Boo has opened for scores of musical greats including George Benson, Al Jarreau, India Arie, and Grover Washington, and has even been featured at a state function for former President Bill Clinton. His music has been showcased on the popular day-time television show "One Life to Live", and his live performances have been aired on the BBC, BET Jazz, and Bravo TV, to name a few.

Mario Canonge
Mario Canonge Mario Canonge is a pianist from Martinique. He started playing in his teen years and accompanied the church choir at Francois Church in his home land. From 1979, he studied music in Paris and took part in several bands. He played with Fal Frett and Maniqua before forming Ultramarine, a jazz-rock-fusion band along with Nguyen Lê, Etienne Mbapp. Very much inspired by two of the most famed Caribbean pianists, Marius Cultier and Alain Jean-Marie, he quickly won recognition for his talent and started being very much in demand. He also formed Sakiyo with Michel Alibo and started a solo career in 1991. Since then, Mario has released 12 albums. It was a turning point in his career which led him to go back to his roots and its music; Mazurka and Biguine mixed with jazz and zouk. With his group Kann' he began reaching a vast audience from the French West Indies and the French mainland. After a world tour with his previous album "Rhizome", the artist released a new album in 2011 entitled "Mitan".

Luther Francois
Luther Francois Luther Francois is recognized as an exceptional composer, arranger, educator and performer in the Caribbean musical world. Ranked as one of the best saxophonists in the region, He boasts an original and impetuous sound colored with the exuberance of Caribbean rhythms and tempered by profound emotional content. Luther is an accomplished musician and pioneer, who back in 1997 put on the first ever public jazz concert in Saint Lucia. Musical director for an St Lucia's memorable 1981 CARIFESTA presentation and tireless champion of local culture, Luther Francois has worked all over the Caribbean, particularly in the French islands where he nurtured his musical style.It is only fitting that he be part of our 21st Anniversary celebration.

Ziggy Marley
A five-time Grammy-winning musician, actor, artist, activist and humanitarian, Ziggy Marley has established his presence on the public stage for over a quarter-century. A native of Kingston, Jamaica, Ziggy and his siblings first sat in on recording sessions with his father's band, the legendary Bob Marley and the Wailers, when he was ten years old. After two decades as the driving creative force behind The Melody Makers, Ziggy's first solo tour came in 2002 along with the release of his first solo effort, Dragonfly. To date Marley has released four solo albums, including last year's Grammy-nominated Wild and Free, and has won five Grammy Awards, most recently for Family Time, a 2009 collection of reggae-inflected, family-oriented songs, in the category "Best Musical Album for Children." Involved with a breadth of charities, Marley leads his own, URGE (Unlimited Resources Giving Enlightenment), a non-profit organization that benefits efforts in Jamaica, Ethiopia and other developing nations.

Gipsy Kings
Gipsy Kings The Gipsy Kings consist of two bands of brothers: the Reyes and the Baliardos. The brothers were the offspring of Spanish gypsy families that had fled into France to escape Spain's Civil War. They grew up roaming the south of France, working harvests and making music. They started to play together at "Les Saintes Maries de la mer" during the annual gipsy pilgrim then they went to St Tropez to play on the beach during the day and in private villas for the jet set at night. Initially, the brothers busked on the streets of Cannes, played weddings and parties, young men flavouring flamenco with Western pop and Latin rhythms. When an American admirer told the band their name Los Reyes meant "The Kings" in English they realized they were born to be Gipsy Kings. In 1987 The Gipsy Kings' self-titled debut album introduced the world to 'rumba Gitano' - the sound of South America's rumba rhythm married to flamenco guitars - and with 'Bamboleo' the Gipsy Kings scored a huge international hit. Since then the Kings have never stopped singing to the world.

The Derek Yarde Project
The Derek Yarde Project Another formidable local group not to be missed this year is The Derek Yarde Project 'En Kweyol'. They can be summed up in one word - ENERGY! These three Saint Lucian, multi-talented musicians know how to whip up a crowd into a frenzy of musical bliss. Led by Derek 'Puba' Yarde on Keyboards, Lead Vocals, and Programming, followed by Daniel Slaque Edmonds on Bass and Lead Vocals, and Thygeson Penn Joseph on Drums, Vocals and Programming, the Derek Yarde Project represents the new generation of Saint Lucian artistes that continues to inject fresh vitality to the festival and bring Caribbean relevance to the music. This year, DYP will be infused with Creole music from indigenous drummers such as Jason Alcide, and violinist extraordinaire - Angus Jn Baptiste and 'Invader' who will present our local calypso in jazz. Friday May 11 at Pigeon Island promises to be exciting. Walk with your dancing shoes as you won't stop dancing once they take the stage.

Kirk Franklin
Kirk Franklin If it's one thing that Kirk Franklin understands, it is that soul and gospel have always been a part of the same close-knit family. Since the release of his self-titled debut in 1993, Kirk has proved himself a pioneer when he sprinkled a taste of hip-hop in the mix. To date, the musical trendsetter has garnered seven GRAMMY® Awards; an American Music Award; 35 Stellar Awards; 12 Dove Awards (CCM); five NAACP Awards; 2 BET Music Awards, a Soul Train Award and numerous others. The heart of who Kirk is and his story struck a resounding chord with his fans years ago and they have remained loyal ever since. Kirk has always been transparent about being abandoned by his parents, adopted by his grandmother and his humble beginnings. Kirk has never hid behind his celebrity status but has remained connected to his audience through his music and frank discussions of life issues.

Keri Hilson
Keri Hilson Keri Hilson is quickly gaining world recognition as a formidable R&B;/Pop sensation with the ability to rallying women and men alike around common causes. Her sophomore album 'No Boys Allowed' resonated with audiences young and old. The Grammy nominated singer and face of AVON has collaborated with Ne-Yo, Kanye West, Chris Brown John Legend and other music industry heavyweights. Additionally, the video for her debut single "Breaking Point" (produced by Timbaland) has hit #1 on BET 106 & Park while becoming the #1 added record to Urban Radio after her performance of the song on BET's Black Girls Rock. Keri's life as has gone from a hit songwriter responsible for hits by Britney Spears, Pussy Cat Dolls, Mary J. Blige, and Usher to a Grammy nominated singer with #1 songs under her own belt.

Allison Marquis
Allison Marquis After playing as part of a steel band for 5 years, Allison Marquis became a pan soloist and took up an interest in Jazz in 1983; which led to him playing with the group Third Eye. He has performed at the Barbados, Martinique and Guadeloupe Jazz Festivals, with the likes of Andy Narell, the Bernard Brothers, the Caribbean Jazz Workshop Group and the late Claude Sommier. Typically described as a mild-mannered gentleman, Marquis plays a mean pan and is no stranger to the main stage setting of Saint Lucia Jazz. He collaborated with Monty Maxwell and Harvey Millar for the 2010 Saint Lucia Jazz Festival. His own group, Eclectic Pan Jazz, performed at the Festival in 2009 and 2011. He has recorded with Emerson Nurse, the late Adrian Clarke of Barbados and Michael Boothman of Trinidad and Tobago.

Andy Narell
With his first solo album in 1979, Andy Narell took the steelpan out of the steelband and brought it into the jazz band, and with every album since, he has explored the possibilities and expanded the role of the pan in contemporary music. Andy has made more than a dozen albums as leader and has collaborated with an impressive list of regional and internationally acclaimed artistes in the likes of Mario Canonge, Spyro Gyra, Paquito D'Rivera and Bela Fleck to name just a few. As a bandleader he has played hundreds of concerts and jazz festivals throughout the USA, Canada, Europe, Japan, the Caribbean, South America, and South Africa. In 1999 Andy became the first foreigner to compose for Trinidad's Panorama steel band competition, guiding the 100 player Skiffle Bunch Steel Orchestra to the finals of both the 1999 and 2000 Panoramas. In 2007 he collaborated with Trinidad All Stars for a concert of his steelband music at the Trinidad and Tobago Steelpan and Jazz Festival.

Lionel Richie
Lionel Richie is a world renowned vocalist and prolific songwriter/composer. Early in his career Lionel joined the group 'The Commodores' while in college and was soon signed to Motown Records. A true romantic at hear, Lionel has gone on to perform with and compose iconic hits alongside some of the world greatest recording artistes. Some of his most acclaimed work includes "Three Times a Lady," and "We Are the World" that he co-composed with the late king of pop Michael Jackson. The many signature ballads written and sung by Lionel Richie, both as part of the group The Commodores and during an impressive solo career formed a soundtrack for countless American romances in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Richie achieved a string of successes matched by few other popular songwriters, with his compositions rising to the Number One position on the U.S. pop singles chart at least once in every year between 1977 and 1985.

Hugh Masekela
Hugh Masekela Hugh Masekela has covered the globe and played with just about every top star you can think of. He is a two time Grammy winner: for "Grazing in the Grass" in the late 60s and together with Mboneni Ngema for "Sarafina" 1987. Masekela wrote a number of international hits and sold several million cds. The single 'Grazing in the Grass' topped the Rolling Stones' Jumping Jack Flash in the US charts. His hit "Bring Him Back Home" became the anthem for Nelson Mandela's world tour following his release from prison. His recent albums have all gone platinum. "The man with the horn" as he is affectionately referred to, is a living legend, a genius musician and great performer who many say has gotten even better with time.

Wespe Pou Ayiti Project
Wespe Pou Ayiti Project Wespe Pou Ayiti Project (Respect for Haiti). Saint Lucian pianist Richard Payne meets Haitian/American trumpeter Jean Caze and Guadeloupean drummer Sonny Troupé in a rich musical encounter that expresses a strong sense of solidarity with and respect for the people of Haiti. In this celebratory (not melancholic) concert, the three artistes/composers (Wespe Pou Ayiti Project) bring to the gathering fresh perspectives from their previous work and new compositions from their upcoming solo albums, in expressions of solidarity to fellow Haitian artistes who remain affected after the earthquake, and as a tribute to the contribution of Haiti to Caribbean freedom and culture. They are accompanied by Francis John (Saint Lucia) on bass and Miki Télèphe (Martinique) on percussions, with Joël Widmaier (Haiti) as a featured guest on percussions and vocals.

Melanie Fiona
Melanie Fiona Melanie Fiona is a bright young R&B; artist and Kanye West protégé from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Born Melanie Hall, the singer grew up in inner-city Toronto to Guayanese parents. Fiona developed a passion for music at an early age, influenced by groups and artistes such as the Ronettes and Whitney Houston. Though she has been active in the music industry since 2002, her first recorded release came with Reggae Gold 2008, in the form of the track "Somebody Come Get Me." The track was instantly acclaimed as a highlight, as well as a fan favorite on the album, and it helped her get signed to Universal Motown.

Fay-Ann Lyons
Fay-Ann Lyons is the only woman in the history of the soca music genre to have captured the coveted National Road March title of Trinidad and Tobago on three occasions having convincingly won it in 2009 with her runaway hit, "Meet SuperBlue." Lyons also created history when she became the first woman to win the prestigious 2009 International Power Soca Monarch championship. She also won the 2009 International Groovy Soca Monarch championship making her the first woman and only the second person ever to claim three major calypso-soca music titles in the same year. The daughter of legendary soca artiste, SuperBlue, Lyons is known for delivering phenomenal performances. Now embracing motherhood, Lyons continues to be as electrifying a performer as she has always been and brings even more to the stage. Her music too continues to evolve as she explores beyond the Road March arena and expands her horizons in many directions lyrically and musically.

Busy Signal Reanno Gordon, better known by his stage name Busy Signal, is an artist from Jamaica. Known as one of the entertainers leading the contemporary dancehall movement, Busy Signal has been a large part of the music scene since 2003. His first hit single, "Step Out", from the album of the same name, was one of the most popular dancehall songs in 2005. He was nicknamed Busy Signal by his friends because of the fact that he is constantly busy and true to that name, Busy Signal has release a string of hits among them "Nah Go A Jail Again", "One More Night", "Tic Toc" and the track entitled "Unknown Number," which garnered tremendous airplay and dancehall reviews especially in the Caribbean and the U.S. Affectionately known as 'Busy' by fans, the artiste announced the introduction of a self-styled clothing line in 2011. His latest album titled "Reggae Music Again" is slated for release on April 24, 2012, as the title suggests this is an all Reggae Album.

Teddyson John
Teddyson John The sweetness of his soul is reflected in the suave captivating nature of his voice and performance style when he hits the stage. Teddyson John, is a Saint Lucian musical treasure. Very rarely do you find someone who is able to showcase music via as many means of expression as he can. A trained gifted vocalist, Teddy or TJ as his friends call him, is also an accomplished drummer, keyboardist, as well as percussionist. Perhaps musical versatility is just layered intrinsically within his spirit, since as a singer he is able to successfully flow from Soca, both Groovy and Power, to Reggae, and also to R&B; Soul. The ease with which harmonies flow out of him is only matched by the bold yet alluring effortless technique that one sees when he is onstage.

Bunji Garlin
Bunji Garlin Already hailed as an iconic artiste by regional music critics, the "4 time International Soca Monarch champion" Bunji Garlin, is one of the few soca acts to achieve as much as he has in the little over a decade since he broke through with the runaway hit, "Send Dem Riddem Crazy." Bunji's charismatic performance style coupled with edgy lyrics floating on intoxicating rhythms and music intoxicates audiences, keeping them returning for more. One of the most prolific artistes as far as album collections are concerned, he has in the past decade released more than eight full length CDs. He has also collaborated with some of the most respected calypsonians, chutney, reggae and hip-hop artistes including Singing Sandra, Freddie McGregor and Allure. Bunji continues to be the voice for the grassroots people of his native Trinidad and Tobago and by extension Caribbean peoples the world over.

©2012 Saint Lucia Tourist Board