Dominica hosted what is being described by festival lovers and music aficionados, as one of the biggest and best music festivals for the 2019 festival season in the Caribbean. The 2019 edition was full of energy, had a high caliber of artistes and an environment which endeared patrons to the magic of the festival and Dominica as a whole. Known for its riveting and powerful sound, this year’s festival attracted record numbers of patrons from across the region as well as returning Dominicans. Arrivals for the WCMF catchment period (7,351) contributed significantly to the overall performance in October accounting for 67% of arrivals. This performance is reflective of a 28% increase over corresponding period 2018 and a 10% increase over 2016.
The 2019 edition, full of exciting and dynamic acts, provided patrons with three nights of musical magic. The line-up consisted of several well –known creole acts, a large number of local Bouyon and Cadence acts, Afro-pop music from Nigeria, Soca music from Antigua, Grenada, Saint Lucia and Trinidad, Zouk music from the French West Indies, Compas music from Haiti and Reggae and dance-hall from the heartland of reggae music, Jamaica, in one of the most memorable festivals ever.
The festival kicked off on Friday, October 25th, with Dominica’s versatile and exciting reggae crooner, ColtonT, who gave the festival crowd a sampling of his amazing talent. ColtonT was followed by Dynast’z out of the Saintes, a late replacement for Haitian Compas band, Nu Look, was a surprise package who gave the audience a set full of Compas music, sending the crowd into a frenzy. Nigerian Afro-beat sensation, Davido, made the crowd fell in love with him, as he belted his many hits songs and showed great versatility on stage. The WCK, the band who brought the world Bouyon music, gave the large Friday night crowd a good account of themselves with a mix of “ole” school and new material, reminding the massive crowd what they missed in the years of absence from the festival. WCK also provided great musical accompaniment to the Soca Queen, Patrice Roberts. Patrice in her usual style and with a mix of many of her his songs over the years, represented Soca and gave the audience something to take back to their homes and communities. The curtains came down on Night One with the Bouyon Boss, Asa Banton, who urged patrons to go out and “do something crazy”, as he brought his A Game to the festival stage and excited the audience with his many well-known songs.
Night Two, Saturday, October 26th, a night to remember, firstly for the extremely large crowd, a record breaking over 17,000 patrons, but also for the diverse forms of musical styles from a line-up of what can be considered one of the most versatile group of artistes ever at WCMF. By then, the buzz around the festival and throughout Dominica, was that the festival’s VVIP and PVIP had created an atmosphere and an ambiance with its classic looks, beautiful surroundings and amazing set-up, never before seen around these parts. The Village Concept and the other attractions to the VVIP and PVIP offerings created such a mark and left a legacy which the festival organisers must follow in future editions. But, Night Two was about the music, the vibe and the many stars on display. It started with the hot Compas inspired Dominican band, Extasy from the Southern parts of Dominica. And what a set they gave to the excited crowd who at that very early stage were numbering in the thousands, waiting for their night of destiny, their night of unparalleled magic. Then came the Zouk All-Stars, amazing singers/performers who brought the house down with their repertoire and versatile onstage presence – Mel, the Dominican songbird was majestic with a strong presence and clear voice; Eric Virgal was simply very smooth and loving; Oswald, unknown before October 26th but now has certainly become a household name for his sterling performance and powerful voice; and Princess Lover was her usual lovely self, getting the crowd to love her even more as she belted her many popular songs, with her power and her presence. Zouk was followed by Cadence-lypso, as three of the country’s music legends, accompanied on stage by an all-star cast of Dominican musicians, brought us back, took us on a musical journey and simply just delivered a package of the highest quality. The trio of Linford John of Bill ‘O Men fame, the Lady of Song, Ophelia, and Cadence-lypso icon, Gordon Henderson reminded the audience and those listening across the globe of the significance of the Cadence-lypso genre and its place in world music. The full-set consisting of Cadence-lypso classics over the past five decades were simply phenomenal and powerful. Night Two was only unfolding, as the Gagamel, reggae’s music ambassador and legend, Buju Banton, who was making a stop in Dominica on his “Long Walk to Freedom” Tour, was simply impressive. Buju, definitely, the act who attracted such a large crowd on this middle night, was well-poised, confident, and absolutely professional as he delivered a set of the highest quality to the crowd which by then was overflowing and overreaching in every direction of the Windsor Park Sports Stadium. After the Buju performance, it was the turn of the husband and wife team of Bunji Garlin and Fay-Ann Lyons who kept the large crowd on their feet, giving them something to move to, to groove to and to find ways to have a night to remember. The pair combined their professionalism, great team work, a mix of soca hits together with a few Bouyon classics and their star quality to remind everyone of why the WCMF is the ideal platform for Creole and music of fusion from the Caribbean, Africa and the Caribbean and African diaspora.
Night Three, Sunday, October 27th, continued with a spirit of renewal, infectious rhythms and a vibe that helped to give the unusually large Sunday night crowd something to savour and enjoy. The night began with some comedy from Ma Buttercup, a local comedian, who was giving the festival a new face and a new dimension. Ma Buttercup was followed by the emerging Bouyon stars, Signal Band, led by the supremely talented and versatile, Sheldon Alfred. Signal who represented Dominica at this year’s CARIFESTA in Trinidad & Tobago, delivered a strong set and brought the audience on their feet over their entire set. Signal Band and Bouyon music was followed by the powerful Compas sound of Mikael Guirand and Vayb of Haiti. The breakaway group from the popular Carimi, was able to keep the Sunday crowd singing and dancing, bringing back several of the hit songs made popular by Carimi. Then it was the turn of two reggae acts, Etana, a lady of serious lyrics, a strong and powerful voice and Romain Virgo, a reggae crooner and dancehall artiste with that special gift of singing and performing. These reggae acts demonstrated their professionalism, clarity of voice, strong stage presence and a confidence which needs to be emulated by other young artistes in the region wanting to embark on a career in the music business. The festival climaxed with the threesome of soca artistes, Tasha P of the Swingin Stars Band of Dominica, Motto of the Dennery Segment fame and the 2019 International Power Soca Monarch, Mr. Killa, performing their many hits and using their youthful energy to bring the curtains down on yet another very successful WCMF.
The “Three Nights of Pulsating Rhythms” in 2019 will long be remembered for the fantastic lineup, the new and impressive VVIP and PVIP stands, the magnificent and large crowds on all three nights, and the high level of organization and professionalism which went into the planning and execution of the 21st Edition of the World Creole Music Festival. As the crowds dispersed from the Windsor Park Sports Stadium on the morning of Monday, October 28th, making their journey back to their respective villages and towns around Dominica and to their respective home countries in the region and the diaspora, the sentiments expressed suggest that the festival is entering a new phase of development, a new beginning, a new thrust to making this festival, the event for all of our people and countries. After-all, this festival is a global event hosted by Dominica, to expose to the world its rich musical history and the vast tapestry of Creole and popular music from the Caribbean and the Creole world. Until the next edition of the WCMF, where people meet, Dominica is fortunate to have given the world its rhythm, its hospitality, its stunning beauty and its amazing talent and for the world to be now fully embracing this unique and dynamic event as theirs. We look forward to welcoming you in 2020 for another edition of the World Creole Music Festival.
For more information on Dominica, contact Discover Dominica Authority at 767 448 2045. Or, visit Dominica’s official website: www.DiscoverDominica.com, see Dominica’s updates on the tourism sector post Hurricane Maria: www.dominicaupdate.com, follow Dominica on Twitter and Facebook and take a look at our videos on YouTube.
About Dominica: Dominica (pronounced Dom-in-EEK-a, and not to be confused with the Dominican Republic) is a haven for adventure travelers seeking a unique vacation that includes: hiking and adventure, cultural events/festivals, diving and water sports, whale/dolphin watching and canyoning adventures. Dominica lies south of Guadeloupe and north of Martinique in the Eastern Caribbean. Air travelers can connect to Dominica on Air Antilles, Air Sunshine, Coastal Air Transport, LIAT, Seaborne Airlines, or WINAIR from the surrounding hubs of Antigua, Barbados, Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. If travelling by sea, travelers can connect to Dominica on L’Express Des Iles ferry service from Guadeloupe, Martinique, and St. Lucia and on Valferry from Guadeloupe and Martinique.