Jazz & Blues for Feb 3-5Thursday, September 09, 2021
BY RICHARD JOHNSON
“A win-win situation”. That is how Walter Elmore of the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival is describing the partnership signed between his entity and Borg Global Holdings headed by American investor Dr Toby Bailey.
Speaking at a media briefing to announce the partnership, Elmore noted that Bailey brought what the event needed in terms of investment and opportunities.
“It was really a combination of things the he brings to the table. I was first introduced to him by Marcia (McDonnough) who shared with me what he does and the various platforms that he has available. Given COVID and how we would love to bring back the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, whether live or virtually, in order to play our part in getting tourism back on its feet, I recognised that we complement each other and so we just went for it,” said Elmore.
The festival, which made a virtual return to the local event calendar earlier this year after a six-year hiatus, will be staged virtually from February 3-5, 2022.
Bailey and his team have committed to being with the festival until 2023, with the option to extend, however, the investor is tight-lipped about disclosing a dollar figure.
“We will create a budget and as things go along there will be a schedule for the release of funds,” was all Bailey was willing to divulge.
The Indiana-born Bailey has an impressive portfolio with investments in minerals and gemstones, including diamonds and gold throughout Africa and South America. His list of companies include Sunset Pictures, a Los Angeles-based film and television production house, which has just acquired interests in a Nigerian film company in order to tap into the thriving Nollywood community. Bailey also expressed an interest in doing the same here.
Borg Global TV, another subsidiary owned by Bailey, provides an Internet-based platform which he noted will provide leverage for the popular music festival.
Festival producer Adrian Allen noted that the agreement with Bailey is one of the positives to come out of the 2021 virtual staging.
“The virtual space was a little bit of the unknown to us when we went on this year. Given the present experience with COVID-19, we took the decision to convert to a digital presentation. Coming out of that we were able to garner the interest of Dr Bailey and we hope this will continue, whether we are virtual, physical, or hybrid,” said Allen.
The event was launched in 1996 by the late Jamaica Observer chairman Gordon “Butch” Stewart as the Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival to encourage visitors to come to Jamaica during a traditionally slow tourism period for the island. The first staging featured Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, Toots and the Maytals, Ernie Ranglin, and guitarists George Benson and Buddy Guy.
Air Jamaica eventually faded from the Jazz and Blues Festival, which had several venue changes, while attracting healthy crowds and a number of popular acts like Al Jarreau, Patti LaBelle, Diana Ross, Lionel Ritchie, Kenny Rogers, Air Supply, Maroon 5, Mariah Carey, Peter Cetera, The Pointer Sisters, Celine Dion, and Babyface.
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