“At Last!” Derede’s Days
As the seemingly all-male line up was compellingly brought to life on the super-sized screens by video production wizards AllBiz Ltd, it was the lone rose between the thorns that raised perhaps the biggest cheer from the elegantly clad crowd at the Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival 2015 Media Launch. Thanks be to whomever finally woke up and realised that this national treasure should be wowing the crowd from the main stage at Pigeon Island again, and put Derede Williams, Lucian diva and straight-up mensch, back into Jazz where she belongs.
And boy did she prove why she deserves to be top of the bill, as Derede took to the stage and sang signature tunes from all the divas to hit the Pigeon Island main stage over the past 24 years. She rocked every shade of blues and jazz from Anita Baker and Patti Labelle to Chaka Khan and a formidable Amy Winehouse, “unpaid” according to SLTB PR manager John Emmanuel, in a brilliant performance that unabashedly said “this is why I should have been here all along!”
For the past two years Derede has been back on the Saint Lucian scene after many years of self-imposed artistic exile in far flung places like China and the Middle East, winning fans and hearts around the world with her awesome talent and beautiful smile, even if her popularity and profile at home was dwindling. She has stories to tell, and tell them she will, but for now, the humorous glint in her eye at the Jazz Festival launch says that if appreciation from her homeland has come at last, she’s going to grab it by the mic stand and give it all she’s got.
As a vocalist, there’s no doubt Derede is the ultimate all-rounder; just sit back and revel in her range as she swings seamlessly from an understated version of Dionne Warwick’s Walk on By to the torch song powerplay of Piano in the Dark by Brenda Russell.
If you’ve been lucky enough to catch her one woman show in venues around the island you’ll also know that she’s her own best front woman, with all the funny patter and engaging repartee she needs to charm the audience out of their sandals. And there’s no doubt she’ll bring it to the jewel in the island’s events crown.
So, once again, kudos to the SLTB) for bringing Saint Lucia’s original jazz diva back to the main stage for the 2015 festival. If there’s only going to be one female in the lineup then it has to be Derede Williams, and I for one will be hanging on her every note come May.
Derede Williams rises