Saint Lucia Jazz in Collaboration with Jazz at Lincoln Center
A celebration of Saint Lucian, Caribbean and international jazz music, with events in all parts of the country – a mix of free and paying concerts, educational activities targeted at Saint Lucian and visiting musicians, culminating on Mothers’ Day, May 12, 2019.
Born in Barking in the early 1980s, YolanDa Brown has been flying high and fast pretty much all her life. She was Head Girl at her comprehensive in East London; she romped through her GCSEs and A-levels before going on to those degree courses in Operations Management at the University of Kent [where she achieved a First Class]; she taught herself to play saxophone and when it began to pay off only then did she make music the central focus of her future career.
Aside from the awards – apparently her accumulated public votes at The MOBOs outweighed all the other nominees put together – and tours [all over the UK and to Germany, Italy, Spain, America and the Caribbean], YolanDa has played on stages with Mica Paris, Alexander O’Neal, Soweto Kinch and The Temptations, hosted her own shows on Sky, BBC Radio 2 and for British Airways’ in-flight entertainment [she even performed on-board for BA when they launched their direct route from Heathrow to New Orleans]. She’s been awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of East London, has taken tea with the Queen and Prince Phillip, is currently writing a series of children’s books, loves to drive fast cars around race tracks in her spare time – if you can seriously imagine her having any – and can even rattle off a Rubik’s Cube in around five minutes [on a good day]. She has also been named as the celebrity ambassador for the Greater London Assembly and ABRSM ‘Learn Music London’ campaign.
Dianna Philip is a young Saint Lucian vocalist who is honing her craft as the island watches. She has always had a love for the arts and has been living her dream for a few years. During the day, Dianna impacts lives as a primary school teacher. She is also happy as she pursues her artistic passion by performing in hotels where she started as a part of a duo several years ago. She has been a background vocalist for many calypso shows and is now happy to lead a band as a vocalist.
Her influences are varied, and you hear it in the timbre of her voice as she sings. She is drawn to the music of Saint Lucian Queen of Folk, Dame Sesenne Descartes, Anita Baker, Bob Marley, Nina Simone and Jill Scott to name a few. Although Dianna is a Jazz, soul artist, she feels comfortable on stage in almost any genre.
Xtra Luv and Friends
Xtra Luv was formed as Love’s Everlasting way back in 1986 by guitarist John Steve, keyboardist Dale Louis, vocalist Ignatius Joseph and drummer Tracy Henry. All members originated from Laborie. The addition of Ron Louis on bass guitar came later that same year as that became a priority. That year and the following three years saw the group performing on borrowed and sometimes rented equipment as funds were sort in every way possible to enable purchase of better instruments and equipment.
A well needed boost in popularity came in 1990, when a music video of the group of their first release, Sweeter Than Wine, featuring drummer Tracy on lead vocals, was produced by David King of HTS. Soon after band leader Dale and bassist Ron left on work related study,and this created a short break in performing. Things resumed in 1992 with a talent show, which set off a series of the same, dubbed Xtravaganza, featuring only Laborie talent which was well received during the school summer break. Various musicians came into the group and moved on to other musical careers, amoung these were deceased Jany Williams, former National Calypso monarch, Nerville Charlemagne (drummer/vocalist), Evans Joseph (bassist), Shern Darcheville (vocalist), Chester St.Helen (drummer), Leonard Moses (drummer), Joel Germe (bassist), Dail Polius (keyboardist), Carlene Joseph(vocalist), Marlon Florent (guitarist) and a few others, all again from Laborie, with Marlon being from Augier, the only exception. In 1997, a name change was seen as necessary to promote a new image and the name Xtra Luv was born. Many hotel gigs followed from 2000 for the next ten years. A concert performance with Barbara Cadet at Jazz in the South started an encouragement to continue that genre.
The band now consists of original members Dale on keyboards and Ron on bass guitar, with KC Aimable on guitar, Kenneth Verneuil on drums, Toria Placide and Wenia Verneuil on vocals and David Elwin, occasionally on lead guitar. The shift to a soft jazz repertoire came over the last year, as it was seen as a more acceptable role that would be played by the band in the revival of Jazz in the South, especially the Laborie segment.