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PRESS RELEASE – This past weekend saw the culmination of a week of festivities which celebrated poetry, film, composition and song, dance and theatre.
It brought together a host of talent in a showcase of beauty and splendour. In a rich display of sophisticated brilliance the artists expressed the inner workings of their minds and shared pieces of themselves through the arts.
On Sunday, April 13, the National Cultural Centre welcomed three trailblazers in Saint Lucian music and entertainment. It was a night of celebrating their contributions and tireless efforts to the development of music in various forms.
A pioneer in music education is being honoured this year in the person of Joyce Auguste who is being recognised for her sterling contribution to music education.
Auguste is a founding member of the Hewanorra Voices, a musical group which was founded in 1970 and remains in existence to this day. Three LPs can be credited to the Hewanorra Voices and these have been re-mastered as CDS.
Auguste has published Saint Lucia Songs – A Collection of Contemporary and Folk Songs 1984 and Oral and Folk Traditions of Saint Lucia 1986. In addition, she has produced a number of documentaries for radio, the most prominent being the Music Programme for Schools’ Broadcast which introduced primary school students to the rudiments of music and to Saint Lucia’s music and folklore.
She has also written and composed many patriotic and other songs. “JUST US” Choir, Hewanorra Voices, Elra Ermay and Lady Leen, who performed a number of her compositions, and some of the traditional folk pieces that are synonymous with St. Lucian culture were present to show appreciation to Saint Lucian icon.
In a tribute to the flower festivals, La Marguerite and La Rose, Auguste was ushered on stage, who along with the Hewanorra Voices, lustily joined in the singing.
Gregory Piper’s remarkable life and career was featured and recognised that same evening. As a young man, Piper’s curiosity and eagerness to satisfy his hunger for musical knowledge would eventually lead him to play the tenor and double tenor steel pans – instruments he still enjoys playing to this day.
Piper’s parents strongly disapproved of his new hobby. However with his love of pan music, Piper persevered and continued to play. He attributes much of his success to the careful mentoring of Gregory ‘Shining’ Emmanuel who at the time (1960’s) had just formed the Diamond Steel Orchestra, which Piper was a member of for quite some time.
Piper was formally introduced to music as a profession by Randolph Beckles, former band master of the Royal St. Lucia Police Band. Piper would in 1979 become a member of Reasons, and would subsequently tour much of Europe and the United States.
In 2006, Piper became the director of music of the Royal St. Lucia Police Band and was most influential in the band’s release of its first album, ‘Caribbean Royalty’, which features many classical pieces as well as local folklore favourites. The album has been dubbed a masterpiece by many and is one of Piper’s finest accomplishments.
It was only fitting then for the Royal St. Lucia Police Band along with calypsonian, Anthony Sylvester “Herb Black” Lewis, some of whose most well-loved calypsos were arranged by Piper, to join in the night’s celebrations.
Rob “Robbie” Calixte brought some nostalgia to the party when he performed some of Reasons popular party zouk favourites. A fanfare and postlude ‘Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow’ was then performed by the Royal St. Lucia Police Band under the baton of Piper himself.
Derek Yarde was also featured at Sunday evening’s event. After starting with his first band Apex, Yarde would do a three-year gig aboard various cruise ships but eventually decided to stay at home in Saint Lucia. It was then that Vertex was born, winning him the road march with the song “My Pressure Up”.
He has provided musical accompaniment for some of the Caribbean’s best including Super Blue, Kerwin Dubois, Ajalah, Benjai, Alison Hinds, Preacher, Iwer George, Skinny Fabulous and a host of national acts at home and abroad.
Backed up by his band The Derek Yarde Project, St. Lucian songstress Baby Girl Trish, in honour of Yarde, performed “Aye Aye Aye”, a song he co-wrote with Alison Hinds and Square One, much to the delight of a beaming Yarde.
Ricky “Ricky T” Joseph also paid tribute to Yarde with a rendition of “Mange Maman’ou”, arranged by Yarde. His band would also perform his hit “Apex in town (Ah ding go ding dong)” as well as a vibrant remake of Saint Lucian Creole favourite, “Ziwa” with renowned Barbara Cadet. The infectious rhythms of Ziwa could not keep Yarde in his seat as he made his way to the stage and in true Derek Yarde fashion got the crowd involved in singing and moving to the music he lives for.
The three celebrants will at the end of Artreach 2014, be honoured in what is expected to be a gala event.
Festival Week without a doubt provided St. Lucian artists with the opportunity to showcase their work. Organisers are hoping however that Saint Lucians will embrace even more and give further support to the arts as St. Lucia endeavours to share its rich cultural history and identity with the rest of the world.
Artreach continues with community festivals, which would include arts exhibitions, a variety of performances and lots of entertainment.
This year, the community festivals will take place in Anse-La-Raye and Babonneau. This will be followed by the Artist Market on May 3, 2014 in Rodney Bay.