Organizers of the 15th Annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival are pulling out all the stops to give patrons a day and night to remember, with a musical and cultural feast like no other … on all three stages.
Festival director Abdul Muhsin is fired up about this year’s Main Stage lineup, as the artists were selected, not just for the their musical prowess, but for the different eras of uniquely Jamaican music that they represent. Muhsin says, “We are espousing a part of our culture that’s endemic and that we share with the world—our food, our music and our culture. Everybody loves jerk, everybody loves reggae and everybody loves Shaggy!”
Cultural Stages coordinator Bridget Edwards is also excited about the performances she has lined up. She says, “It’s the 15th staging of the festival, so we want to make it extra special. With the theme “Celebrating the Caribbean” performances will be more focused on various Caribbean islands, because, “although the Caribbean is diverse, we can still relate to each other; we have so much in common.”
Boombastic Night on the Main Stage!
Eric “Monty” Morris, famous for hits like “Sammy Dead” and “Oil In My Lamp” is considered a foundation artist of the Ska and Rocksteady era, and he will be gracing the Main Stage to take festival goers on an authentic trip down memory lane. Also taking the stage will be Singing Melody, whose vocal stylings will appeal to the audience in tunes like “Want You Back,” “Say What” and “Let It Flow.” Singing Melody is a household name in Lover’s Rock and Reggae, and will definitely bring a nostalgic vibe to the stage. Dynamic duo, Chaka Demus and Pliers of “Murder She Wrote” fame will no doubt deliver an excellent show, with Pliers’ smooth vocals balanced beautifully with Chaka Demus’ deejaying skills. Expect to hear hits such as “Bam Bam” and “Tease Me” as they blaze the stage!
Headlining this awesome event is Diamond-selling, Grammy-winning artist Shaggy, who will pull from his repertoire of hits including anthems like “Boombastic” and “It Wasn’t Me.” The superstar will loom larger than life on stage, and on the new LED screens that will be erected to give patrons an even better view of the beloved artist. With his ability to win over an audience and reinvent himself; Shaggy has become a mainstay on stages across the world, thrilling with everything from his early hit “Oh Carolina” to his latest tune, “That Love.”
Cultural Melting Pot on Two Great Stages
But before festivalgoer’s head to the Main Stage, patrons will be thoroughly entertained on the Western Union Cultural Stage and the 411 Pain Fuzion Soundstage. Beginning at 12 noon, the cultural stages will be in full swing, with entertainers moving between the stages to give the patrons the high level of entertainment and culture they’ve come to expect from this festival. Singers will include brothers J-Stone and K-Charlez, as well as Yanique Sasha. Crys Alexandra and the E.L.E.M.E.N.T.S, with soulful front woman Crys, will no doubt capture the hearts of anyone who hears them. Sons of Mystro, the violin-playing brothers will transport patrons with pure talent and the Jerk Festival Dancers will ignite the stage with their moves.
Staying true to the Caribbean theme, the Trinidadian Melo Groove Steel Orchestra, a children’s steel pan group, will showcase the versatility and hypnotic rhythms of Trinidad for all to enjoy, while the Carib Isles Dance Group composed of members from islands including St. Kitts and Antigua will bring these different cultures to the stage. Jamaican Folklorist Dr. Sue, who has been performing at this event for years, will be there to grip the audience with her engaging storytelling. And, there will be a special treat from the Bahamas Junkanoo Revue, an authentic Bahamian Junkanoo band. Edwards is super-excited about this, saying, “We will do a Bahamian Junkanoo Parade and festivalgoer’s are encouraged to join in. So, bring your flags, your whistles, your grater, your pot covers and participate in the Bahamian Junkanoo Parade!”
Emcees, actor/comedian Johnny Daley will keep the vibes and comedy flowing on the Western Union Cultural Stage and WAVS-1170 AM radio personality Yvette Marshall will hold it down on the 411 Pain Fuzion SoundStage. Dancehall fans will also have their chance to hear the latest dancehall music and try out the latest dances in the party pavilion dubbed “The Hot Zone,” which will feature top DJs spinning dancehall music from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The gates will open at 10 a.m. and patrons can take advantage of the $5 food specials between 10 a.m. and noon. Both Muhsin and Edwards encourage patrons to come early, bring the whole family and stay late to enjoy this day of food and fun.