Sun | Jun 24, 2018

A cappella brings a difference to Blues on the Green

Published:Monday | February 25, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer

Emancipation Park was, on Friday, the venue for a jazz and blues tale of love, the choice of musical instrument electrifying the audience.

The event was the 22nd annual Blues on the Green, the United States Embassy in Kingston's Black History Month curtain closer.

On 22 occasions now, Jamaicans from a wide cross section of the society are treated to live performances from a bottomless pool of American jazz and blues artistes. This year was no different, except that the talent was like none seen before - an ensemble of young professionals whose musical instruments are their vocals. The group is called Traces of Blues.

Described as the future by Yolanda Kerney, public affairs officer at the embassy, the vocal band lived up to the traditions of the concert and expectations.


However, before the group of Howard University past and present students made their appearance, Jamaica's Harold Davis and Friends got the large audience in the right mood.

Among his selections were My Valentine and Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone. The songs brought Master of Ceremonies Fae Ellington to the stage. First with a rose for Davis, and her second appearance was to dance the dinki mini steps to Davis' rearranged Jamaican version of the Bill Wither's song.

Davis also abandoned his keyboard to join Ellington in the Jamaican folk dance, and the audience was thrilled.

A 15-minute intermission for set changes (musical instruments replaced by high chairs), and Traces of Blue made their entrance.

They promised to "touch on the cold part of love", that can be "chilly as the Washington DC weather" but also as warm as Jamaica.

After establishing the character with My American Boy, the a cappella group of nine singers, commenced a story that began Through the Grapevine.

The tale continued in another just delivery of I just Need You Now. Next was a commercial break. It was a musical interlude of theme music from some television shows such as The Price is Right and The Cosby Show - all done with vocals.


A fantastic rendition of Roberta Flack's Killing Me Softly commenced part two of the blues saga. Subsequently, the warmth came in I feel Good, a song that "embodies relaxation and good energy."

After a pause to pay anniversary tribute to Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater and her husband, with We've Only Just Begun, the love story resumed with a lovely arranged medley of Fly and I Believe I Can Fly.

The story concluded with an electrifying performance, of Change Gonna Come. With that, the group of vocalists left the stage to resounding applause.

The ensemble's encore presentation was also an intriguing arrangement, Whitney Houston's I Want to Dance, followed by the chorus of Bob Marley's classic One Love.

The song was not only used to eventually close another fantastic Blues on the Green, but gave the audience the opportunity to hear Jimmy Cliff sing.

Cliff, who was special guest of Ambassador Bridgewater, would not take the stage, so it was of some satisfaction when a member of Traces of Blue held the microphone to his mouth as he joined the audience in singing the chorus of One Love.