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One family concert
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St. Vincent and the Grenadines will Tuesday host a free concert dubbed “One Family”, featuring regional and local acts, to celebrate CARICOM’s 50th anniversary as well as the 185th anniversary of Emancipation.

“August the first 1838, the journey from there to CARICOM — 50 years of CARICOM — and this activity will involve food and design, it will involve craft and it will involve very much music,” Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said at a press conference in Kingstown on Friday.

The event will begin with a family fun day at Victoria Park at 2 p.m. to be followed by the concert, which has been billed as “featuring over 20 of the best artistes and their bands throughout the region and St. Vincent & the Grenadines”.

Gonsales noted that the cast involves Jamaican artistes Jahmiel Foster and Luciano; Benjai from Trinidad and Tobago; Tallpree from Grenada; and Alison Hinds and John King from Barbados.

He said the inclusion of the regional act is “reflecting the CARICOM focus, this family of ours”, adding that they will be joined by local acts such as Soca Monarch 2023, Fireman Hooper; Ragga Soca Monarch, Jay-R  and internationally renowned Vincentian artistes Skinny Fabulous and Kevin Lyttle.

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Starlift Steel Orchestra and the National Drum Foundation will also perform at the concert, which Gonsalves said “will include segments and storylines like the matters involving our folk, Ragga Soca, carnival, all elements of love and upliftment in culture and the arts”.

He said the event is being supported by the National Lotteries Authority, the Bank of St. Vincent and Grenadines, the National Sport Authority, Central Water and Sewerage Authority, National Properties and the central government, “including facilities from the Carnival Development Corporation”.

Gonsalves said:

“I just want to say this: there are certain things we have to celebrate and commemorate; things which touch our spirit and our soul. And it happens this was being planned before you had the recent incident involving the killings.”

He was speaking of the July 19 mass shooting in Kingstown that claimed five lives.

“Now we’re coming to one as a family … takes even greater importance; we’re coming as one, as a family and we’re telling criminal elements we are stronger than you; you’re a tiny group,” said Gonsalves, who is also minister of national security.

“We will not allow that cancer upon the society to prevail; that we are in solidarity with one another for peace and love and solidarity and faith and fresh hope for St. Vincent and Grenadines; we are at a time of despair and using the genius of our people as expressed in culture and the arts to lift ourselves higher.”

Gonsalves said there are elements of the society on whom music has more impact than other media.

“Now, there are elements who are not reached in our society, who we cannot reach with words, who don’t listen to the radio station, who don’t read online newspapers, who don’t read any of the three newspapers in the print journalism but who will listen to music and the arts and to help them and to help all of us in lifting our lives, our living and our production.”

Meanwhile, speaking at the same event, Minister of Culture, Carlos James said that at Tuesday’s event, “a lot of the performances and production teams and all of the local artisans will be fully immersed for the display of the Vincentian or CARICOM colleagues and the region.

“They have started rehearsals for a few weeks now and going into 2 a.m. at mornings and back at 7:30 at mornings rehearsing to ensure that we have a very wonderful production to showcase on Aug. 1.”

He said there will be “a massive production” from all of the dance companies, which have joined forces and “a 30-strong dance contingent will be displaying a number of creative aspects not just of our local Vincentian culture but also the regional display of the creativity of the Caribbean islands”.

James pointed out that a kids’ fair will run from 2 to 5 p.m., adding that the concert will be “a very packed, tight production.

“And we’re encouraging persons, particularly the public transportation system, the van man, it’s a holiday, we encourage you to put on your transportation so we can get people coming to and from Victoria Park on August 1, because we’re hoping to have a full cultural celebration,” James said.