R KELLY – Sumfest’s Wish comes true
DESPITE rumours that Rhythm and Blues singer R Kelly is having health issues, promoters of Reggae Sumfest are confident the Grammy-winning artiste will perform on July 21.
At the launch party on Sunday at Kingston’s Waterfront, Summerfest Productions head Johnny Gourzong said R Kelly is preparing a special show for International Night 2 which closes the week-long event.
The I Wish singer was expected to be one of the headliners for last year’s Sumfest but withdrew to undergo emergency throat surgery.
The 20th anniversary of Reggae Sumfest starts July 15 with the traditional beach party at the Aquasol Theme Park in Montego Bay.
The main nights take place at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex, also in Montego Bay.
Also appearing on International Night 2 are Damian ‘Junior Gong’ Marley, Bunny Wailer — who is part of a special tribute to Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of independence; and Protoje.
Pop singer Trey Songz is headliner for International Night I which also features Tessane Chin and Tarrus Riley. There is also a Tribute to the Greats segment showcasing Rocksteady greats John Holt and Leroy Sibbles, Roots-Reggae trio the Mighty Diamonds and Dancehall deejay Yellowman.
Dancehall Night, a traditional crowd-puller, takes place July 19. The lineup includes perennial headliners Bounty Killer, Beenie Man and Lady Saw.
First held in 1993, Reggae Sumfest is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Gourzong admitted there was a time he thought the festival would have never made it past year five.
“After many trials and tribulations, many hurdles, here we are today,” he said.
Sumfest initially promoted an all-Reggae bill, but over the years promoters have incorporated big Pop artistes including Wyclef Jean, Snoop Dogg, Joe, Destiny’s Child and Rihanna. The move has paid off, attracting hundreds of fans to Catherine Hall.
Making their debut on the Sumfest stage this year will be veteran singer AJ Brown, who made his name as a cabaret performer in Montego Bay 30 years ago. He appears on International Night 2.
Shabba Ranks, the biggest name in Dancehall music during the 1990s, returns to the Sumfest stage for the first time since 1994.
“He says he will need a trailer-load of sexy girls to meet him,” Gourzong said.
Following Sunday’s formalities, the audience was treated to ‘teaser’ performances from artistes booked for the show including the NoMaddz band, and singers Christopher Martin, I-Octane and Tommy Lee.