June 20, 2012

Island Grooves: North Sea Jazz Festival in Curacao


North Sea Jazz Festival held its second music festival on the Caribbean island of Curacao over Labor Day weekend.

North Sea Jazz Festival, which I call the Rolls Royce of international music festivals, lined up an all-star roster of performers including Stevie Wonder, Sting, Dionne Warwick, Earth Wind & Fire, Branford Marsalis, CHIC featuring Nile Rodgers, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Ruben Blades, Kassav, Poncho Sanchez featuring Terence Blanchard and others.

Held at the World Trade Center in Piscadera Bay, the two day festival was sold-out and had more than 22,000 attendees.

While headlining the closing night of the festival, Wonder decided to celebrate his 10-year-old son Kailand’s birthday, as well as Beyonce’s.

After bringing his son out on stage to the cheers of the capacity crowd, Wonder said he also wanted to acknowledge the pregnant pop star even in her absence.

“I think I’m going to ask her husband Jay-Z if she and I can re-record this song together,” he told the crowd, before breaking out his rendition of “Happy Birthday,” which was released in 1980 as a part of the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday campaign.

The 61-year-old entertainer also saluted Warwick during his two and half hour set. The “Celebrity Apprentice” star, who performed earlier in the evening, joined him onstage for a duet of their song “That’s What Friends Are For.”

“If it wasn’t for this woman, I would not have received an Oscar,” he told the audience. “She’s the one who made the call and got me involved in ‘The Woman in Red,’ which is why I received an Academy Award for Best Song.”

Surprise collaborative performances are what North Sea Jazz Festival is known for.  Marsalis, the former band leader for Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show,” joined Sting onstage during his performance as well and played several numbers with the former front man of The Police.

North Sea Jazz Festival features overlapping concerts on three distinctive stages – the trio of venues were named after Sam Cooke, Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington.  More than half of the 22,000-plus people who attended the festival were tourists fromHolland andDenmark, thoughCuracao still aims to more American tourists.

The Dutch island of Curacao is part of the Caribbean’s Netherland Antilles Islands and is positioned between Aruba and Bonaire and is just 35 miles north of Venezuela and just may be the Caribbean’s best kept secret.

VIDEO: Watch Stevie Wonder sing “Happy Birthday” here:



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