Sat | Sep 18, 2021

Jamaica Jazz and Blues Night 3: Celine Dion sends heartfelt message to Jamaica

Published:Sunday | March 7, 2021 | 1:48 PMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer -
Celine Dion performs at the 2012 Jamaica Jazz and Blues festival.
Celine Dion performs at the 2012 Jamaica Jazz and Blues festival.

Halfway through the final night of the Jamaica Jazz and Blues festival, Donovan White, director of tourism at the Jamaica Tourist Board, delivered a heartfelt message from international recording artiste Celine Dion.

The Power of Love hitmaker pulled a record-breaking audience of approximately 27,000 people, and blocked traffic as far as the Mount Rosser main road in St Catherine when she headlined the 16th annual Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival in 2012. It was held at the Greenfield Multipurpose Stadium in Trelawny.

In the letter, the singer shared that the night is one she “will always cherish, and it will always be close to my heart".

She continues, “I felt the warmth, the love and generosity of the Jamaican people from the moment we arrived, and to hear the audience singing along with us to every song made us feel so very much at home.”

Celine Dion also expressed gratitude to the former festival manager, Walter Elmore, CEO of Art of Music Productions (AMP), and the Jamaica Jazz and Blues festival production team for their hospitality, and revealed a desire to return in the future.

“I wish all the artistes and music lovers of this year’s event a beautiful celebration. With vaccines on the way, hopefully, the world will make great progress this year in defeating this virus,” she said. “Soon, we’ll be able to come together and celebrate again as one. Stay safe and healthy everybody, and have a wonderful festival.”

The singer signed the letter, “With all my love, Celine.”

It has been said that Celine Dion is by far one of the most expensive artistes the team has ever booked. Still, it proved valuable to the brand, which has featured Lionel Richie, Air Supply, Anita Baker, Alicia Keys and Michael Bolton in its roster of high-profile, international recording artistes.

According to White, who read the letter on behalf of the past headliner, “One of the greatest experiences that you can have coming to Jamaica is to experience a festival like Jazz and Blues because there is not too many others that will outperform the quality, the production, the values and the level of artistes, both international as well as local, that typically makes a show like Jazz and Blues.”

He said live entertainment is a big part of how the Jamaica Tourist Board structures the different seasons of tourist arrivals, and underscored the importance of structure as Jamaica’s entertainment sector pivots during the pandemic.

“We are going to have to, like the rest of the world, begin to pivot,” White said, adding that, even with 80 per cent of the world vaccinated in the future, “events like these, if you want to call it a hybrid, you are not going to be able to bring 25,000 persons into a venue to enjoy a show like this … . What this has done is opened up the eyes of Jamaican producers and promoters of events that there is another way to do this.”

He added, “We have to find the right formula that allows for there to be a return of entertainment, but in a structured, safe way that allows for lives to be protected, but more importantly, for livelihoods to be safeguarded.”

The prestigious cultural event is now licensed to original members of the Jamaica Jazz and Blues team Adrian Allen of Steady Image, in partnership with Marcia McDonnough of Touchstone Productions. For the final night of the Jamaica Jazz and Blues festival, the organisers enlisted the likes of fast-rising entertainers Tessellated and Sevana, Latin singer Jon Secada, and Caribbean favourites Teddyson John from St Lucia, and Freetown Collective from Trinidad and Tobago.