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Caribbean

Published on June 24th, 2013 | by David Cuffy - Trinidad Guardian Newspapers

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WeBeat in a jam

WeBeat St James Live, a nine-day cultural extravaganza showcasing the rich diversity of culture and talent that exist in Trinidad and Tobago assumed teen status this year. For the past 13 years the event has been held at the St James Amphitheatre comprising varied night and day programmes, including a health day, talk show, culinary delights, jazz performances, kaiso night, children’s show, steelband concert, amateur talent show and a steelband street parade. The first festival in 2001, held on the first Friday in June, was called WeBeat—the Merging of Cultures, and consisted of late-night sidewalk shopping, and entertainment events featuring indigenous arts, focusing on dance and pan music.

On the Sunday night, scores of villagers and visitors thronged the venue to take in pan music from the Woodbrook Playboyz, St James Tripolians, Panorama champions Arima All Stars and tassa music from the Bis-Ali drummers, and on the Monday the festival shifted gears to offer free health checks to villagers. During the week, a three-member panel comprising historian Michael Anthony, former Port-of-Spain Mayor and popular St James resident Stephenson Sargeant and Port-of-Spain City Corporation council representative Kent Taylor, spoke on the origins and evolution of the village.

The festival experienced tremendous growth over the next four years, peaking in 2005 with the widespread acceptance of WeTalent Amateur Night that unearthed lots of new, talented nationals, some of whom have gone on to make their marks in the entertainment industry. Names that come to mind include Umi Marcano and Leandra Head. It was also the era of the Five-A-Side Pan Competition that exposed, in great detail, the versatility and creativity of our steelbandsmen and women in a setting outside of Carnival.

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