The Ladies Of Jazz
With a formidable female presence, the sub-theme for this year's Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival could have been 'Ladies Nights'.
Three generations of soul and reggae will be represented at the January 24-26 event at the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium. Rhythm and Blues legend Dionne Warwick, Mary J Blige - the queen of hip-hop soul, and neo-soul singer Monica will carry the flag for an American sound that has had a massive Jamaican following since the 1950s.
Like their American counterparts, home girls Nadine Sutherland, Etana and Alaine will add an eclectic mix of talent and styles to the dancehall and roots elements of the show.
According to Junior Taylor, a senior member of the show's production team, promoters went all out for a diverse line-up.
"For many years the show has been male dominated so this year we were determined to strike a balance and I think we have succeeded," he said.
Warwick makes her second appearance at Jazz. Her debut in 2005 was impressive, as she belted out hits from her golden era in the 1960s with songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
A cousin of Whitney Houston, Warwick made her mark nearly 50 years ago with songs like Walk This Way, Do You Know the Way (To San Jose) and Windows of The World. She made a remarkable comeback in the 1980s, teaming with songwriters Isaac Hayes and the Bee Gees for the big hits, Déjà Vu and Heartbreaker, respectively.
Mary J Blige, who first performed at the Jazz and Blues Festival in 1999, set the standard for the new wave of R&B singers who emerged in the 1990s. Her 1992 debut album, What's The 411?, spawned two number-one hits in You Remind Me and Real Love.
Early in her career, the Atlanta-born Blige was groomed by Sean 'Puffy' Coombs whose Bad Boy Records also nurtured rapper The Notorious B.I.G.
She has won nine Grammy Awards, four American Music Awards and earned a Golden Globe nomination.
Monica followed the path of Mary J. Blige. Along with Brandy, she was among the rush of teen singers who came to the fore in the mid-1990s.
She broke through with Don't Take it Personal (Just One of Dem Days) from her first album, the big-selling Miss Thang.
Nadine Sutherland has been making hit songs for an impressive four decades. A protégé of Bob Marley's Tuff Gong Records, she recorded Starvation On The Land and A Young One Like Me while a student at St Andrew High School.
In the 1990s, Sutherland scored with dancehall songs like Action, which entered the Billboard chart. She had another sizeable hit with Babyface for the late producer Phillip 'Fattis' Burrell.
Etana and Alaine are two of the bright faces of contemporary reggae.
Etana's refreshing debut album The Strong One, was released in 2008, yielding the socially conscious Wrong Address and uplifting Warrior Love.
Her third album, the highly anticipated Better Tomorrow, will be released next month, on the back of her festival performance.
After living in the United States for a number of years, Alaine returned to Jamaica five years ago and made an immediate impact with the songs, No Ordinary Love and Wine.
Nadine Sutherland and Etana perform on opening night, while Mary J Blige and Etana are scheduled for January 25.
Dionne Warwick and Monica are down for the closing night.
The Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival is sponsored by the Jamaica Tourist Board, Flow, The Gleaner, CVM TV, RIU, Secrets, Sunset Resorts, Hilton, Half Moon, Charmin, Pringles, Bounty, Seaboard Marine, Holiday Inn, Knutsford Express, National Outdoor Advertising, Courts, Heineken, Ciroc, Johnny Walker, Wyndham Kingston Hotel, Caribbean Airlines, El Greco, Toby Inn, Intelligent Multimedia, Jablum, Pure Country, Guardsman Alarms and Pepsi.
Get your tickets!
Tickets are now available at www.jamaicajazzandblues.com.
General admission: US$50 for Thursday night, and US$80 to access the venue on Friday and Saturday nights.
VIP tickets: US$120 each night.
Season passes: US$200, season passes which provide access to the event Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
VIP season passes: US$350
The organisers are offering savings on discounted weekend passes (Friday and Saturday only) at a rate of US$150.