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Jazz Festival and Music

Jazz has been a growing force in Barbados since the cultural festival of Carifester was staged in Barbados in the year 1981. Carifester is a Caribbean jazz festival staged throughout the Caribbean. The main purpose behind the festival is to gather artists, authors and musicians together and exhibit the artistic qualities of the Caribbean. The most popular “Bajan” jazz musicians include saxophonist Arturo Tappin and bassist/keyboardist Nicholas Brancker. Both have jammed together and both take centre stage during the Barbados Jazz festival. The Jazz festival takes place during early January. And it creates a party atmosphere for all visitors and locals as the spirit of jazz runs through the nation.

The festival first took centre stage in 1993 and has quickly become an annual event in Barbados. There are many different stages that offer live events throughout Barbados. The premier location for the Jazz festival is the Sir Garfield Sobers Gymnasium. This location provides a large crowd and a real colourful atmosphere. Other areas of the island where jazz is played is Farley Hill National park. Visitors are able to relax as it offers a more chilled out vibe than the Sir Garfield Sobers Gymnasium.

As mentioned before, the premier musicians that grace the festival are Brancker, and Tappin. Barbados born Arturo Tappin has been a massive figure in Bajan and Caribbean jazz for many years. Arturo Tappin has been a prominent figure at Jazz festivals around the world, not just in Barbados. Arturo Tappin has developed his own unique brand of jazz incorporating reggae and jazz. Arturo started his musical journey as a violinist, however, he soon discovered his love for the Saxophone. Nicholas Brancker is a Grammy award nominee. Brancker has produced an array of different songs including the amazing “Grammy award nominated “Love is.” Brancker can play an array of different instruments. The impressive list of instruments include: piano, bass, and keyboard and he is considered as an “elite “ musician. Many people flock from around the world to see the the Barbados music festival, and the event creates another example of classic“Bajan” culture.

There are many different distinctive sounds when it comes to the Barbados Jazz festival. The steel pan is probably one of the most distinctive sounds of the Caribbean. As soon as any holiday maker hears the smooth, distinctive sound of the drums then they are instantly transfixed with the island. Wherever you are in Barbados, the steel drums are likely to strike up and play. They play anything from classic calypso, to popular classics and will definitely provide any tourist with an authentic Bajan experience.

Many different Churches in Barbados contribute to the music of Barbados. Barbados’s Churches contribute to the formal method of Christian worship. The Churches often conduct many gospels throughout the year with many of the locals reverberating the vibrant rhythms and voices. There is one resident who is revered for his gospel work and is know as the “Godfather” to this day. Joseph Niles took the attention of the island, and is recognised as a pioneer of gospel music. Joseph Miles emerged form the church of St Simon and is known for his unique style and voice. Joined by his sister Marshall, they revolutionised gospel throughout the island, bringing Gospel to a wider spectrum by fusing it with Calypso. They both inspired many different bands including: Promise, and top choirs such as the Nazarene Silvertones. In 1993, Barbados hosted the first annual Gospelfest. This became a hit with many locals and tourists as they became indulged with the powerful rhythms and voices that the choir possessed. Now, every May top singers from North America and the Caribbean join together for a showcase of religious devotion. Like the Jazz festival, the Gospelfest gives a lot of young talent the opportunity to promote their talent as it is the premier event for any Gospel lover. Young Caribbean acts are able to showcase their skills to a wide audience as many gospel lovers from around the world, join together, to celebrate the wonders of Gospel. The Gospelfest has become a major event throughout Barbados and it is now considered as one of the main events in Barbados.

Tuk bands also play a big part in Bajan culture. Drumming became prominent during the times of slaves. Many different slaves could express their emotions by the way that they drummed and many slaves would use the drums regularly. However, these drums were banned by the British with any drum found being destroyed. This did not hinder the slaves as they resorted to banging on logs. The name for these bands were know as Tuk bands as the word “Tuk” originated from the sound of drumstick hitting log. As drums are now permitted again, Tuk bands have risen to prominence. Many Tuk bands perform throughout the whole of Barbados with many being accompanied by large Brass drums pulsating around the streets. Other band members provide a penny whistle to offer a melody to the beat. Tuk bands are another site to behold while in Barbados. Many different Bands play during events such as “Crop Over” and the “Holetown Festival.” However, throughout the course of any stay in Barbados, many different tourists are treated with a variety of musicians parading the streets of the many different Bajan towns.

Music is extremely important for the whole island of Barbados. The whole island is encapsulated by the different types of music that is paraded, and the whole island get encapsulated by the rhythm and sounds. Unfortunately the Jazz festival hasn’t been conducted since 2010 due to budgetry constraints. We all hope that it will return in the future as it plays an integral part of Barbados’s musical culture.

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