'Twas Ladies' Night
Females shine on second night of Jamaica Jazz and Blues FestivalSunday, March 07, 2021
BY RICHARD JOHNSON
March is Women's History Month and the female artistes billed for the second night of the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, held virtually on Friday, were certainly aiming to create history with their solid performances.
While their male counterparts were far from shabby, the women were in a league of their own as each brought their own brand to the showcase and raised the bar considerably from the altitudes at which it was set by the emerging acts on Thursday's opening night. Friday was a mix of emerging and established Jamaican acts, but the beauty of this ecclectic combination was that there was never a dull moment throughout the over four-hour-long presentation.
It is hard to single out the strongest of the night's females, but if it had to be narrowed down it would be a hard decision between the conscious and sultry Jah9 and reggae's current 'it' girl Lila Ike. Both women have clearly benefited from the current global health crisis and the downturn in the entertainment industry. This has allowed them the time to work on their craft and present sets that were well thought through, and beautifully arranged from a musical standpoint.
Jah9 was the first of the two to take to the stage. The Rastafari songstress delivered her set from the city of Dar es Salam, the capity of the east African country of Tanzania. She has made Africa her home for the past year and offered a brief snapshot of the beauty of Tanzania and its similarity to Jamaica during her opening montage.
Travelogue over, it was on to the work and hand. For just over 30 minutes she shared a smooth, mello set in which she rearranged some of her popular tracks to suit the occassion. Jazzy guitar riffs anchored on a steady bass substrate from her backing band and two supporting vocalists were the vehichle in which she gave her virtual audience tracks such as Warning, Claim Love, Love Has Found I, Natural Vibe, Note to Self, and Feel Good. She further showcased her vocal chops by drawing from the catalogue of the Hight Priestess of Soul, Nina Simone, and performed the classic Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood. Based on the comments which flowed on YouTube a number of persons were being introduced to her music for the first time and were impressed with what they heard and saw.
The love for Lila Ike and her music was the same. She started a virtual inferno of fire emojis once she took to the stage and she did not take her foot off the gas pedal until she wrapped up her set half an hour later. It was all the hits her fans have come to know and love. She drew heavily from her EP The ExPerience which she released last year and delivered favourites such as Stars Align, I Spy, Forget Me, Where I'm Coming From which she described as the most powerful song she has written to date, the biographical Solitude, Second Chance and Thy Will Be Done. She was able to connect with her virtual auience conveying her feelings with lively banter between tracks. Patrons were seen asking for more in the comments section once she closed the srong performance.
But these two weren't the only females on the bill.
Vocalists Moon as well as Olivia Wilmott, the lead singer for Earth and the Fullness, represented the female energy in the early segments of the show. Moon, who is influenced by the likes of Janis Joplin, Erykah Badu, Bob Marley and Etta James, brought all those insights to her short yet strong performance. It was the same for Earth and the Fullness. Wilmott's haunting melodies and potent lyrics went over well on her tracks including the catchy Love My Roots.
There was more feminine energy in the band Eye of the Brainstorm and their lead singer definitely brough her talent to this band's unique blend of hip hop and jazz
The show's opening segment was filmed on Water Lane in downtown Kingston flanked by the murals facilitated by the local arts group Kingston Creative. This was a masterstroke by the organisers to showcase this section of the UNESCO-approved Creative City of Music. It was from the paved walkway that singer Bunny Rose opened the second night of performances with a tribute to some of the popular male singers who have performed on the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival over the years.
He chose George Benson's Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You, All of You by John Legend; Wings of Love by Jeffrey Osbourne; Michael Bolton's How Am I Suppose to Live Without You and Caribbean Queen by Billy Ocean.
Despite the female energy the task of closing the show was left up to smooth reggae singer Mortimer.
The dreadlocked crooner who had the top song for 2019 in Lightning, brought his strong vocals to the closing set. Dropping the hits from his EP Fight The Fight, Mortimer thrilled with Friends, Rock and Come In, Style and Grace, No Lies, and, of course, Lightning.
The festivval was set to wrap up on Saturday night with performances expected from the lone international act Jon Secada, Tessellated, Sevana, Richie Stephens and other acts.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login