By Olimatta Taal
The Red Stripe Reggae Sumfest was launched on Wednesday, June 6th on the lawns of Devon House in Kingston. Celebrating its 15th Anniversary this year, Sumfest will feature some of the biggest and best in Reggae, R&B, and hip-hop. This annual musical extravaganza will take place on July 15-21 in Catherine Hall, Montego Bay.
The launch was hosted by Empress who entertained a filled lawn of guest including many of the entertainers that will be taking part in the festivities. Johnny Gourzong, Director of Sumfest unveiled the international artist and announced that this year Mary J Blige is set to perform on the final night of the show, while LL Cool J will take the stage on Friday night, July 20th.
Two legendary bands, Lloyd Parks & We the People Band and Fab 5 will be honored for participating on Sumfest shows since the beginning. A video presentation was viewed that highlighted the line up for this year. The Beach Party starts on Sunday, July 15th with Fab 5, ZJ Liquid, Craig Ross and Pieces Disco.
Thursday’s Xplosion will represent a night of dancehall with Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Elephant Man, Lady Saw, Ninja Man, Baby Cham, Vybz Kartel, Vegas, Chuck Fenda, Macka Diamond, Gyptian, Munga Honorebel, Kip Rich, Aidonia, Busy Signal, Voicemail, Erupt and many others.
International Night has been broken down into two nights. The first, Evolution will feature Buju Banton, Shaggy, Morgan Heritage, Richie Spice, Daville, Etana, Cherine Anderson, and Christopher Martin. Zenith, the second night will feature Mary J.Blige, Beres Hammond, Tanya Stephens, Alison Hinds, Taurus Riley, Collie Budz, Tessanne Chin, and Rootz Underground.
A number of other guest speakers addressed the crowd including Zachary Harding, marketing manager for Wisynco and David Shields representing the Jamaica Tourist Board. Some of the artists on the line up for this year's Sumfest performed their hottest singles on the road.
Cherine Anderson sang Are You Coming Over Tonight, while Etana performed Wrong Address. Empress introduced Munga as the hottest artist of the summer before he performed In Her Arms and Bad From Mi Born. Shane-o and Nezbeth touch the stage as new artist ready for Sumfest.
It was clear that the majority of the excitement was around the unveiling of Mary J Blige and LL Cool J as this year's international artists. Blige's last performance in Jamaica was in 1997 when she performed at the Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival. This year Mary J Blige's hits Without You and No More Drama has her dominating the charts.
LL Cool J has been rapping since the early days of the Sugar Hill Gang. At the age of 39, he is still making major accomplishments in the music industry and the acting scene. They add to the list of great performers who will make this 15th Anniversary celebration a memorable one.