By Camille Taylor
Hardbeatnews, MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica, Fri. July 29, 2005: Talent trampled hype and substance was resurgent over its old nemesis style at the 13th annual staging of Reggae Sumfest, which wrapped up last Saturday, July 23 in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Perhaps the best illustration of this was the contrasting performances by American Idol winner Fantasia and current billboard chart sensation Ciara. The former put her stamp clearly on Jamaica’s largest music festival with a stirring performance while the latter failed to impress as she lip synced badly to tracks.
But Fantasia brought an electrifying energy to the Jamaican stage and with moving deliveries of old favourites like “Tell Me Something Good” and “Purple Rain” and her current hits “Baby Mama” and “I Believe,” without the benefit of a hair weave or “bootie shaking” choreography as she showed the glaring difference between a studio-generated star and a true entertainer.
Also making his mark with the Jamaican audience was Senegalese rapper Akon, whose easy-going style made him seem right at home throughout his set. But it was his show stopping antics at the end of his performance that won the hearts of the Sumfest crowd.
After remarking about the fact that the special press area and the VIP viewing section separated him from “the people,” Akon jumped off the stage, climbed over the barriers and was held aloft by the audience and members of his security detail for his finale, “Lonely.”
While some of the visiting artistes scored big, it was the home-grown stars who brought the spark to the five-day music festival. The spirit of reggae King, Bob Marley, was alive and well as his youngest son, Damian delivered a commanding performance with a stunning mixture of charisma and authority.
“Jr Gong,” as he is popularly known, showed his versatility by serving up his own dancehall hits such as “Still Searching” and “More Justice” and drawing deeply from his father’s repertoire of classics including “Zimbabwe,” “Who the Cap Fit” and “Crazy Baldheads.” He was joined on stage by older brother Stephen for a moving rendition of “It Was Written” and then after earning an encore he unleashed his current chart topper, the controversial “Welcome to Jamrock.”
Reggae crooner Sanchez, who has been absent from the Jamaican stage for a while, received an ecstatic welcome home as he sang his way through a hit-laden set that had the audience hanging on every word. Loud cheers greeted the opening bars of practically every song as Sanchez fired off the hits at a relentless pace.
The Sumfest audience also showed a lot of love for Morgan Heritage, who virtually led a sing-along during their hour-long performance. And one of the most poignant moments of the festival came when Luciano stopped to lead the crowd in prayer, asking for an end to the crime and violence currently plaguing Jamaica, during an emotional performance of his hit, “It’s Me Again Jah.” Luciano’s performance also included hits like “Sweep Over My Soul” and a provocative rendition of Peter Tosh’s “Legalise It.”
As the largest reggae show in Jamaica, Reggae Sumfest has always distinguished itself by including artistes from overseas in their line up. But the home-grown talent is never to be outdone and this year, once again, it was proven that while pop or hip hop might be blended into the mix, you can never take the reggae out of Sumfest. – Hardbeatnews.com