After a 5-year hiatus, The Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival is back, this time with a virtual twist.
The event has been thrilling music lovers from as far back as 1996 when it was dubbed the Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival. The concert is synonymous with bringing some of the biggest international acts to Jamaica. The likes of Diana Ross, Chakka Khan, Aaron Neville, Erykah Badu, Toni Braxton, John Legend, Michael Bolton, Celine Dion, Maroon 5, Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, and Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmonds have all graced the stage. With the event less than 2 months away, organizers are still finalizing contracts and we unable to disclose who fans would be seeing as they tuned in virtually.
While speaking to the Jamaican Gleaner, organizers Adrian Allen of Steady Image Media Group, and marketer and event producer, Marcia McDonnough of Touchstone Productions mentioned that the festival was one of the first to take on a virtual, live streaming approach a decade ago.
“We were one of the very first events to live-stream in 2010, so we decided to go with the virtual in 2021. In my day job, I produce virtual events and content for national and international events, and Marcia is on the ground in Jamaica and deals with a lot of events,” said Allen.
The 2021 festival is being branded as the event to ‘Bring Back the Magic. With this in mind, the organizers are employing a hybrid type approach, which sponsors are already smiling about.
Allen, who was associated with the festival for 13 years, explained that “Jamaica Jazz and Blues is owned by the Art of Music Productions and it may come back in-person as an actual event. We then said ‘let’s do a licensing deal to produce a virtual event and then a hybrid, a mix of virtual and real.”
While vowing to keep the usually high-end ticket cost at zero, Allen said that the true return will be in “data and the reach.”
“We are getting quite a bit of support from brands who have bought into the value of the digital reach, which enables them to capture three times as much as actual events, and we are continuing to look for more support,” Allen shared.
The Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival will run for three days, from January 28-30. It follows on the heels of Reggae Sumfest and the rebirthed Reggae Sunsplash, which both provided two nights of fun.
“Jamaica Jazz and Blues has always been an experience, and even though it’s virtual, we are trying to keep the virtual as close to the real as possible,” explained Allen. “We are not planning an event; we are going to create an experience that is different from other previous concerts that have taken place globally.”
The non-virtual aspect of the show will include a band search, which will culminate on Day 1, dubbed, ‘Stars On The Rise.’ Adding to the mindblowing experience will be a Circle the Island video series. The series will be centered around reggae singer Richie Stephens, as he takes viewers through some of the most beautiful places in Jamaica. In collaboration with TEF, an online marketplace will also be set up for Jamaican products to be sold during the festival.