2011 Artiste Biographies

John Legend

John Legend

American recording artist, musician and producer John Legend is the recipient of six Grammy Awards. Music has been the central theme in the life of John Legend (born John Stephens) for as long as he can remember and now, some twenty-odd years later, this multi-talented singer, songwriter, musician, arranger and producer is fulfilling his childhood dreams and ambitions. In 2007, he received the special Starlight award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

The multi-platinum singer, songwriter and pianist has sold more than five million albums worldwide, garnered multiple hit singles ("Ordinary People," "Used to Love U," "So High," "Save Room," "Heaven," "Another Again") and has received countless awards. Legend demonstrates a rare ability to fuse classic old school soul music with the edgy flavour of 21st century hip-hop.

Prior to the release of his debut album, Legend's career gained momentum through a series of successful collaborations with multiple established artistes. Legend added his voice to those of other artistes, assisting them in reaching chart-topping hits. He lent his voice to that of Kanyé West, on Slum Village’s "Selfish", and Dilated Peoples "This Way". Other artistes included Jay – Z’s "Encore", and sang backing vocals on Alicia Keys' 2003 song "You Don't Know My Name” and Fort Minor’s "High Road." Stephens played piano on Lauryn Hill’s "Everything Is Everything."

As Saint Lucia gets ready to ‘Live the Music’, John Legend is back to ensure that the ‘legend of Saint Lucia Jazz’ continues to live on.

Trey Songz

Trey Songz

Since making his recording debut in 2005, Trey Songz has patiently and artfully crafted some of the most acclaimed and compelling R&B; music of the decade. His first two Songbook Entertainment/Atlantic albums, I Gotta Make It (2005) and Trey Day (2007), yielded a trio of top ten singles, “Girl Tonight,” “Last Time,” and “Can’t Help but Wait.” And when the latter song garnered Trey a coveted Grammy nomination for Best Male R&B; Vocal Performance, it marked the validation of the faith shown in Trey by the late Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, who hailed him as one of “the most promising R&B; artistes we have had since we started the company 60 years ago.” With the 2009 release of Ready, Trey Songz is more than ready to claim his place in the pantheon of R&B; greats.

Indeed, with its blend of hip-hop, R&B;, and pop – exemplified by tracks like “Black Roses,” Ready demonstrates his growth on every front. The third time around, Trey displays a new vocal maturity combined with his renowned ability to twist notes and keys effortlessly, while presenting an increasing breadth of subject matter. Born Tremaine Aldon Neverson, Trey was raised as a military brat, with his family eventually settling in Petersburg, Virginia. Ironically, as a teen he wasn’t particularly interested in singing. Only after continuous encouragement from his mother and drawing on his grandmother’s example as a devoted church choir member, Trey entered a local talent show at 14 years old. He won that competition and several more, eventually amassing 19 trophies. At 15, Trey crossed paths with producer Troy Taylor, who’s worked with everyone from Boyz II Men to Lionel Richie, and Taylor immediately recognized Trey’s talent.

After high school, at Taylor’s invitation Trey moved to New Jersey, where he developed his vocal, writing and production skills. As he learned to record songs, Trey completed a proverbial musical boot camp, absorbing music by artistes such as Prince, Marvin Gaye, and Steely Dan.

4th World

4th World

4th World, the Saint Lucian reggae band that rocked audiences at the 2010 Montreal International Reggae Festival, and which has announced its upcoming tour of the Northeastern USA, is en route to Saint Lucia Jazz 2011. The strength, originality and prolificacy of 4th World rest in the fact that it has three lead singers, all of whom double as songwriters and instrument players. The group recently released its 5th single, Stereotype, from its debut album, Can’t Stop Us, to be launched March of this year.

Among group members are lead singers and songwriters Nijah “Cold Sweat” St. Catherine, Sylvester “Itoobaa” Peter and Darrel “Frenchy” Augier.

The band’s music has been critically acclaimed as edgy, irresistible and revolutionary in its arrangements and lyrics, yet remaining true to the roots of reggae, as exemplified in the music of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. As such, it bridges the gap between the old and the new, but makes no compromises.

What a treat, what a thrill to listen to 4th World; what variety of music and voices! There is Cold Sweat, the vocal maestro, who some say possesses one of the best voices in world reggae. There is the veteran, Itoobaa, the man whose rustic and unyielding voice conjure all the great reggae artists of old, and who has a knack of combining reggae with blues and jazz to come up with international hits like Freedom. And then there is Frenchy, a man apart, whose originality in voice, lyrics and arrangement takes one’s breath away.

Allison Marquis and Eclectic Pan

Allison Marquis and Eclectic Pan

Allison Marquis was introduced to the steel pan and music at the age of 13 when he joined the Babonneau Superstars Steel Orchestra in the Carnival season of 1978. Two years later, he took over the position of Music Arranger for the band, which has participated in several National Panorama competitions over the years.

Marquis became a pan soloist and took up an interest in Jazz in 1983 and played with the group Third Eye for several years. He has performed with the Caribbean Jazz Workshop Group at the Barbados and Guadelope Jazz Festivals, with Andy Narell, the Bernard Brothers and the late Claude Sommier in the Martinique Jazz Festival. He also collaborated with Monty Maxwell and Harvey Millar for the 2010 Saint Lucia Jazz Festival. His own group, Eclectic Pan Jazz, performed in the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival in 2009. He has recorded with Emerson Nurse, the late Adrian Clarke of Barbados and Michael Boothman of Trinidad and Tobago.

Although he currently holds an Advanced Diploma in Music Theory from Trinity College of London, he is constantly studying his craft with a view to perpetual improvement. Allison’s Jazz influences are many but he considers our own Luther Francois to be his greatest influence, both as an improviser and as a composer.

Anacaona

Anacaona

Anacaona was founded in the 1930s by Concepción Castro Zaldarriaga and her sisters, being then the first feminine sextet that played ‘Son’, a traditional style of Cuban folk music. In 1934 the band’s format was broadened to incorporate Jazz. In Cuba, Anacaona shows up in the popular dance music's main scenarios, cultural events, national tours, festivals, radio programs and on television.

Today, the band comprises thirteen women who cultivate the popular Cuban music, mixed with traditional rhythms of contemporary sonority. Also known as Las Mulatísimas del Sabor, they have achieved a style that distinguishes them from other bands; a distinction that has gained them critics acclaim not only in their homeland of Cuba, but from several countries around the world.

The female orchestra has toured the world and performed with the likes of jazz saxophonist, David Sanborne, popular Cuban band Charanga Habanera and Daniela Mercury from Brazil. They have also performed at many jazz festivals throughout their illustrious history.

Angelique Kidjo

Angelique Kidjo

Angelique Kidjo, whose work has garnered her four Grammy nominations, has cross-pollinated the West African traditions of her childhood in Benin with elements of American R&B;, funk and jazz, as well as influences from Europe and Latin America. Throughout her career, she has collaborated with a diverse group of international artistes like Carlos Santana and Gilberto Gil. Her duet with Dave Matthews on the song ‘Iwoya’, which appeared on her 2002 release Black Ivory Soul, was a critical success that helped diversify her fan base.

The daughter of an actress, dancer and theatrical producer, Kidjo was born in Quidah, a coastal city in the West African country of Benin. Inheriting her mother’s love of performing, she made her stage debut with her mother’s theatrical troupe. Inspired by the rock, pop and soul music of Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, Miriam Makeba, James Brown and Aretha Franklin, she was singing professionally by her twentieth birthday. Although Pretty, produced by Cameroon-based vocalist Ekambi Brillant, yielded a hit single, ’Ninive,’ the oppressive political environment in Benin led her to relocate to Paris in 1980, where her international career blossomed.

In the course of her successful career, Angélique Kidjo has spread her rhythmic Afro-funk fusion to the four corners of the globe. With her fun-loving personality, her on-stage charisma and her totally unique voice, Ms. Kidjo is certainly one of the most popular artistes on the current world scene.

Bad Ass Brass

Bad Ass Brass

Comprised of some of the UK’s finest young brass players and jazz musicians, ‘Bad Ass Brass’ was formed in 2008 by a group of friends who wanted to make great music and have lots of fun in the process.

The band takes its influence from the sounds of traditional New Orleans brass bands, but adds its own unique twist, as every member brings their own distinctive style and influence to the band, with electric results. Since its formation, Bad Ass Brass has performed extensively across London and the UK including Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club and the Royal Albert Hall.

Bad Ass Brass entered the recording studio for the very first time and their self-titled debut album was launched in London in October 2010. That same year the band performed to a sold-out crowd on the main stage at the Cheltenham International Jazz Festival and won a competition that afforded them the opportunity to perform at Saint Lucia Jazz 2011.

Carimi

Carimi

Knowing that the state of their homeland, Haiti, was unsure and insecure, Carlo Vieux, Richard Cavé, and Mickael Guirand each decided to leave and set their sights on the United States. Always driven by their passion for music, this small group of guys reunited in New York years later to chance upon making their current past time a potential career.

By taking the first two letters of their first names, CaRiMi was born. Drowning themselves in the studio in the hopes of creating a new sound, one that was uncommon in the Haitian Music Industry at the time, the guys found themselves putting to paper some profound, socially charged lyrics that encompassed the troubles in their native land. “Ayiti Bang, Bang” was released in the summer of 2001 and instantly, CaRiMi became a household name. The group is known as one of the first younger generation digital bands to put out music that touched upon the political pressures and the deteriorating security of Haiti.

Receiving accolades from the international music scene, including Best Album Of The Year, CaRiMi has risen to the top of the charts across Billboards best in Haiti, Guadeloupe, Paris, French Guyana, Canada and parts of Europe. Over the years CaRiMi has proven that talent is not only a gift, but a necessity in making all your dreams a reality.

Chuck Brown

Chuck Brown

Chuck Brown is the undisputed sole founder and creator of Go-Go music, a hypnotically danceable genre deeply rooted in funk and soul that he developed in the early 70ʼs. Foreshadowing rap and many of the major popular R&B; styles of the past three decades, Chuck's signature style earned him a place in American musical royalty. This esteem was maintained by the reputation of his legendary live shows, heavy on audience participation and built around “the beat” to create an unparalleled non-stop party atmosphere.

Brown scored hits like “We The People” and “Blow Your Whistle” in the early 70ʼs, followed by the #1 national hit “Bustinʼ Loose” on MCA/ Source in 1978 (used by Nelly in 2002 in his #1 smash “Hot In Herre). Chuck Brown scored again in the early eighties with the Billboard charting “We Need Some Money,” followed by the massive worldwide cult masterpiece “Go-Go Swing,” making Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers a force to be reckoned with in innovative American music.

Chuck Brown has over the years teamed up with scores of legendary performers and producers. One of his latest collaborations saw him working with multi-platinum producer Chucky Thompson to put together his first new studio album of original material since Bustinʼ Loose. The album was released in April 2007 to critical acclaim, debuting in Billboard as the #1 Independent CD, the #2 R&B; CD, and #37 on the top 200.

DYP, The Derek Yarde Project

DYP, The Derek Yarde Project

DYP, (The Derek Yarde Project), is a young band comprising three of Saint Lucia's notorious and multi-talented musicians, coming together for the sole purpose of creating, entertaining and performing music at its best. Though small in size, their performances are spectacular by comparison.

Led by Derek " Puba " Yarde on Keyboards, Lead Vocals, and Programming, followed by Daniel "Slaque" Edmonds on Bass and Lead Vocals, and to round it off Thygeson "Penn" Joseph on Drums, Vocals and Programming, DYP has managed to grab the minds, hearts and souls of all those who have experienced their performances.

With influences ranging from Burning Flames to Kassav to the great Bob Marley, they have managed to create a sound of their own, unlike any other. So from Saint Lucia to you and yours with love, we present to you, DYP, The Derek Yarde Project.

Jab Duplessis... featuring Derede Williams

Jab Duplessis featuring Derede Williams

Augustin "Jab" Duplessis began his career in music at the age of 15 when he joined the Royal St. Lucia Police Band as a junior bandsman. His first instrument was the clarinet but later he developed a love for the saxophone. Jab has performed with almost every group on the island of Saint Lucia as well as the West Indies Jazz Band, which toured Europe and the Caribbean over a period of three years. After this, he formed his own group, "Third Eye." Jab has studied at a number of master classes with renowned musicians such as Bobby Watson from the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz and Bob Berg and the Wynton Marsalis Band. In 2002 Jab produced a music video featuring an original piece from the band's first CD, "Awakening" entitled "Ojisten" which is the Creole form of his name "Augustin."

In 2003, Third Eye performed at the 12th Annual Saint Lucia Jazz. The group has performed with other well-known musicians such as the Bernard Brothers, Four Play, and Earth Wind and Fire.

Today Jab uses his imaginative arrangements in fusing Caribbean and traditional jazz together. He has earned the reputation of being one of the most talented musicians in the Caribbean, rivalled only by his mentor, Luther Francois. Jab is currently working on his next album of songs and the Jazz/Caribbean community cannot wait to hear what comes next.

Ledisi

Ledisi

Born in New Orleans, Ledisi Young (her given name meaning "to bring forth" in Nigerian) has been singing professionally for much of her life. She started at age 8, fronting the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra. Her mother, also a singer who performed in local bands, was an early inspiration. Ledisi's family relocated to Oakland, California, and it was there that she seriously pursued a career in music.

The artiste later formed her own band, Anibade, whose sound mixed classic soul and hard-hitting funk with jazzy overtones. She eventually released two indie albums: 2001's Soulsinger and 2003’s Feeling Orange But Sometimes Blue. Both became underground sensations and led to opening dates for the likes of Chaka Khan. Although Ledisi was a seasoned artiste before joining Verve, she says she is still finding herself musically. ‘Turn Me Loose’ is a turning point in her artistic evolution.

Her 2007 Verve debut album ‘Lost & Found’ continues to garnered strong reviews and two Grammy® nominations, including one for best new artist. With a much heightened industry profile, Ledisi's has been able to secure some of urban music's most respected producers, including Grammy® winners Raphael Saadiq and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.

Saint Lucia Jazz will ‘Live the Music’ and echo the sweet sounds of Ledisi.

Maceo Parker

Maceo Parker

For close to two decades Maceo Parker has been enjoying a blistering solo career. For the past sixteen years, Maceo has been building a new funk empire, fresh and stylistically diverse. He navigates deftly between James Brown’s 1960’s soul and George Clinton’s 1970’s freaky funk, while exploring mellower jazz and the grooves of hip-hop.

His collaborations over the years, performing or recording or both have included Ray Charles, Ani Difranco, James Taylor, De La Soul, Dave Matthews Band and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. His timeless sound has garnered him a fresh young fan base.

Maceo Parker’s name is synonymous with Funky Music, his pedigree impeccable; his band: the tightest little funk orchestra on earth.

Mervyn Wilkinson

Mervyn Wilkinson

This Saint Lucian son of the soil from the age of nine had found his true passion, music. His vocal talent has always been his signature mark and he has left this audible print in the minds and hearts of music writers, critics and his general audience alike, who affectionately refer to him as "the man with the golden voice".

Mervyn's professional career started at age 20 when he joined a local band called SURVIVAL as the lead vocalist. A year later, he joined a group of popular Saint Lucian musicians, ONYX, which took all the major cruise ships, including the Queen Elizabeth 2, by storm. During his more than 10 years with ONYX, Mervyn also shared the stage with the great Jimmy Cliff in 1989 at a Summer Festival held in Saint Lucia and in 1990 represented the island at a Caribbean Tourism Organization function held at the famed Waldorf Astoria in New York.

Mervyn's professional career started at age 20 when he joined a local band called SURVIVAL as the lead vocalist. A year later, he joined a group of popular Saint Lucian musicians, ONYX, which took all the major cruise ships, including the Queen Elizabeth 2, by storm. During his more than 10 years with ONYX, Mervyn also shared the stage with the great Jimmy Cliff in 1989 at a Summer Festival held in Saint Lucia and in 1990 represented the island at a Caribbean Tourism Organization function held at the famed Waldorf Astoria in New York.

Mike Stern

Mike Stern

In a career that spans three decades and a discography that includes more than a dozen eclectic and innovative recordings, five-time Grammy nominee Mike Stern has established himself as one of the premier jazz and jazz-fusion guitarists and composers of his generation. Born in Boston in January 1953, Stern grew up in Washington, DC, but moved to Boston to study at the Berklee College of Music.

After performing for years with Miles Davis, in 1985 Stern recorded Neesh, his first recording as a leader, for the Japan-based Trio label. A year later, he made his debut on Atlantic with Upside Downside. Stern's second Atlantic album, Time In Place (1988), delivered on the promise of his debut. He followed with Jigsaw (1989) and Odds Or Evens (1991), both of which ably showcased his legendary guitar prowess and musicality. The '90s proved to be a prolific and critically successful period for Stern. His acclaimed 1993 release, Standards (And Other Songs), earned him the pick of Best Jazz Guitarist of the Year by the readers and critics of Guitar Player Magazine. His Voices (2001) release, his first foray into vocal music, was also another Grammy nominee.

In February 2009, Stern was included on the venerable jazz magazine's list of 75 Great Guitarists.

Morgan Heritage

Morgan Heritage

As the name suggests, Morgan Heritage consists of the progeny of famed Jamaican singer Denroy Morgan. The band’s first major performance took place on the opening night of Sunsplash 1992. Their precocious musicianship and assured stage presence generated such excitement, that they were invited to perform at Sunsplash’s Saturday night finale. At the conclusion of the set, Morgan Heritage was signed on the spot to the MCA Records label.

Three of the siblings eventually dropped out and Morgan Heritage reemerged in a tighter configuration that featured Memmalatel “Mr Mojo” Morgan on percussion and vocals; Nakhamyah “Lukes” Morgan on guitar; Roy “Gramps” Morgan on keyboards and vocals; Una Morgan, the group’s sole female member, on keyboards and vocals, and Peetah (Peter) Morgan singing lead.

In 1997 and 1998 the group voiced their socially outspoken, spiritually empowering lyrics over famed producer Lloyd “King Jammy’s” James’ one-drop rhythm tracks, which yielded a contemporary roots reggae sound that was a much welcomed departure from their slick pop offerings on the previous album Miracle. Years later, this finely honed modern roots identity has made Morgan Heritage one of reggae’s most enduringly successful acts.

Currently at work on its 11th album, Morgan Heritage has received international acclaim for works such as “Don’t Haffi Dread”; “Reggae Bring Back Love”; and “Down By The River,” which topped the charts in Jamaica, Japan, France and the UK, where it held the premier position for 16 consecutive weeks. Other popular hits include “She’s Still Loving Me”; “Your Best Friend”; “Tell Me How Come?” and “Nothing to Smile About.”

Regina Carter

Regina Carter

Through her many albums, incessant touring, various guest appearances and collaborations, preeminent violinist, Regina Carter, has developed into a distinctly diverse musical personality. As the first jazz artiste and African American to play Niccolo Paganini’s famed Guarneri “Cannon” violin, she has been featured with several symphony orchestras and performed with artistes as diverse as Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill, Billy Joel, Kenny Barron and Mary J. Blige.

With her latest work Reverse Thread an album primarily of African folk tunes, Regina takes a giant step forward by making a meaningful musical contribution on her own terms. Reverse Thread takes beautiful traditional music and infuses it with a contemporary feel while remaining true to its past without compromising its beauty.

Regina is a recipient of what is commonly known as the “genius grant,” a fellowship award offered by the prestigious MacArthur Foundation, which provides unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals.

The sumptuously seductive sounds of Regina Carter’s violin will echo at Saint Lucia Jazz 2011.

Richard Bona

Richard Bona

Richard Bona has been described as a gem that possesses one of the best bassists’ voices on the planet. Born in 1967 in Cameroon, Bona started to use his unbelievable, amazing and natural ability to learn any instrument only by watching it. Being of little means, Bona learned how to make his own; from wooden flutes to percussion instruments, he easily built everything he needed.

At age 11, he replaced his homemade model with a professional-style guitar. At 22 Bona moved to Paris where he not only studied music, but played with leading French musicians as Didier Lockwood and Marc Ducret, as well as Manu Dibango and Salif Keita.

His move to New York in 1995 would result in the recording of the album My People with Joe Zawinul and a world tour with him thereafter. Bona has served as Harry Belafonte’s bandleader and musical director and has played bass guitar with the most illustrious musicians including: Larry Coryell, Michael and Randy Brecker, Steve Gadd, Bob James, Mike Stern, Pat Metheny, Georges Benson, Bobby Mc Ferrin, Brandford Marsalis, Sadao Watanabe (as a producer) and Chaka Khan.

In 1998 he recorded the first album under his own name, Scenes from my life. His multifaceted recordings over the years feature not only his song writing skills and instrumental prowess, but also his rich, expressing, and haunting voice. Bona returns to Saint Lucia once again, after two electrifying performances at Saint Lucia Jazz in 2000 and 2006.

Sixun

Sixun

Since their 1985 debut sponsored by the CIM Jazz School and its late founder Alain Guerrini, the band Sixun, has totally fulfilled their initial ambition, which was to become the European equivalent of associated famed band ‘Weather Report’. Same – quite ideal – instrumentation, same balance between acoustic and electronic instruments, same fully-mastered virtuosity and, above all, same pressing desire to open the windows of jazz to all musical drafts from the world over.

Sixun has often been defined as a “fusion music band”, perfectly blending African beats with Caribbean soul, accompanied by other world rhythms. In truth, this ‘fusion’ also lies in the intense, personal closeness between the band members over the last decades. This very long kinship is not only expressed in their music: it bursts out in the words and looks they exchange with one another or with their audiences. Watch carefully, you will see, it is often fascinating. Sixun’s music has been described as a firework display wherefrom solos shoot up as rockets and bouquets.

Sixun’s singularity is that they are not truly a sextet, but an inseparable quintet plus a sixth, removable yet nevertheless essential musician, a percussionist. For 2011 the journey continues, as Saint Lucia prepares to receive ‘Sixun’ as part of the line-up for this year’s Saint Lucia Jazz.

Taj Weekes

Taj Weeks

Born and raised on the island of Saint Lucia, Taj Weekes grew up the youngest of ten children in a family where music was ever present. By age five, Weekes was singing in church and by the age of nine, he and his brothers had formed a band, playing in local talent shows and at the town hall or parish centers around the island.

Weekes and his band Adowa, unite a true social consciousness with an unforgettable reggae groove. Blending in elements of acoustic roots, rock and afro-folk simplicity, the band’s vibrant sound defies genre and has garnered critical acclaim.

The group's first two full-length albums are Hope and Doubt and Deidem, which won "Best Reggae Album" at the Just Plain Folks Music Awards. The band released their much-anticipated third CD, A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen, in October 2010.

Named a Goodwill Ambassador by the International Consortium of Caribbean Professionals and recognized by a division of the United Nations, Weekes addresses issues such as global warming, casualties of war, domestic and youth violence, diabetes and health, poverty and the poverty and the welfare of children through both his music and his charity.

Yellowjackets

Yellowjackets

In 1977, Robben Ford assembled a group of veteran musicians to record his album The Inside Story. The trio, which included keyboardist Russell Ferrante, bassist Jimmy Haslip and drummer Ricky Lawson, soon discovered a certain "chemistry" and musical affinity that led to their formation of Yellowjackets.

Their debut album Yellowjackets made serious waves in jazz radio, garnering public and critical acclaim. Mirage A Trois followed in its footsteps. While they went on a brief hiatus to pursue other projects, they reassembled in time for the 1984 Playboy Jazz Festival, adding percussionist Paulinho Da Costa and their new lead voice, sax man Marc Russo. This landmark concert paved the way for their eventual success both on the Billboard Jazz charts and concert venues around the world, and resulted in the third spicy Yellowjackets album Samurai Samba.

With their album Four Corners, Ricky Lawson departed to join Lionel Richie's touring band and was replaced by the versatile William Kennedy. This rock-solid lineup took the Yellowjackets into new territory, exploring world beats and densely-populated soundscapes that reflected a growing maturity in their music. The name Yellowjackets was selected randomly as it seemed to connotate something lively, energetic, and stinging. That's really about as deep as it went and once you choose a name, you're stuck with it, so here they are, years later, grown men playing in a band named 'Yellowjackets.'



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