Unlike most annual Jamaican festivals where batty riders and bandanas are the normal attire, the second annual ‘Symphony Under The Stars,’ whose patrons were politely seated in rows of white chairs on the lawn of the Cable & Wireless National Golf Academy in New Kingston, was an elegant, classy, black-tie affair. On the evening of Saturday, March 15, guests were decked out in blinding white suits, tuxedos, cocktail and evening dresses for a night of tranquil, sophisticated entertainment.
Notable attendees of Symphony Under the Stars included Richie Spice’s back-up singer Nina Karlett, flamboyant artist LA Lewis, Sean Paul’s father Garth Henriques, Jr., Gong Marley’s mother, Cindy Breakspeare, Minister of Information and Culture – The honorable Babsy Grange, and Billboard Magazine writer Pat Meschino.
The line up of supporting artists included Courtney John, who was attired in a black, pin-striped suit, bejeweled with symmetrical rows of rhinestones. Courtney John (formerly known as Yogi) performed his hit, ‘I go Crazy’ and songs from his new album, “Unselfish.”
Supporting artist, dapper Don, Da’Ville looked like a million dollars. He was decked out in a blazing white suit, with a coordinating cream white vest and tie, white pork pie hat, crisp white patent leather shoes and clear, futuristic Versace sunglasses. He wowed the crowd with his hit, “Always on My Mind.” The ladies in the audience swooned as he glided across the stage. His smooth, sexy dance steps harkened back to the height of the Motown Era.
Both Courtney John and Da’Ville have recently won ‘Excellence in Music and Entertainment’ awards, presented last month in a ceremony by Jamaican radio host Richie B., of Hot 102 fame. Richie B. was also the host MC for Symphony Under the Stars.
Artists Duane Stephenson, Chalice, LUST, and AJ Brown rounded-out the event. All five opening artists used the same backing musicians, in the band as well as the orchestra, and shared the same five harmony-backing vocalists. This virtually eliminated the notoriously tedious set changes that tend to drag down other popular festivals. Each opening artist performed three songs, with the exception of AJ Brown and LUST, who performed an encore. The headliner for the evening was legendary Rhythm & Blues singer, Roberta Flack.
Miss Roberta Flack looked radiant in a fuchsia silk blouse and a black, multi-tiered, mermaid skirt, which showed off her svelte figure to a T. She played a black baby grand piano while performing her signature classic ballads, “Killing me softly,” and “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” which moved members of the audience to tears. She was accompanied by the masterful sounds of the New York orchestra, which was led by Jon Williams.
After the performance, Executive Producer Ruby M. Robinson of S.H.E.M. Music Production and Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett presented Roberta Flack with a hand made piece of artwork, which was created by production team-member Charl Baker. Ms. Baker was so touched by the experience, she burst into tears backstage. “I grew up listening to Roberta. To be able to give her a piece of my artwork was a dream come true.”