LeAndra and Sharon at the North Shore Jazz Up Festival
News day reporter
When the North Coast Jazz and Heritage Festival hosts its major event tomorrow, mighty soprano LeAndra Head will be among the performers providing high-level entertainment at Solomon Hochoy Ground, Laundress.
Festival artists also include Dean Williams and the band Adan Hagley with Tony Paul, Sharon Phillips, Reuel Lynch, Freetown Collective, Michelle Sylvester, Johan Chuckaree and Mista Vibe. This festival from May 27 to 29 is dedicated to the calypsonian Lord Nelson.
After a two-year wait, LeAndra is looking forward to performing at the NCJ.
“I’m excited. I was invited to perform at the show in 2020 but unfortunately with the onset of covid the event was canceled so I’m really grateful to be invited to perform again this year I’m also starting to work with an amazing group of musicians and can’t wait to get on stage with them,” LeAndra told Newsday.
She says that while audiences can expect to hear music they know, choosing their repertoire was no small feat.
“It was a little difficult trying to choose a set because I hadn’t had to in a while. (But) They can expect a set that includes music that is beloved and appreciated by a lot.”
Like many other artists, she has had to find ways to stay active during the past two years of the pandemic.
“I started teaching voice. It was one of the things that kept me busy, it gave meaning to the times when I couldn’t play and it also introduced a new way to use the skills that I have developed over the years. It is very rewarding to be able to help my students grow and develop their natural talents.”
As the entertainment industry opened up, she was able to do a few live performances.
“I recently performed in the Reflections concert by John Thomas. The performance went really well so I was really happy to be on the Queen’s Hall stage again. It was my first time going up been on stage for a long time, so I was really grateful to have the opportunity to be there and to be able to play with John and a full orchestra was a great experience.”
She was back at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s, last weekend for a performance of Stefan Roach’s The Art of Guitar: Return Of The Strings.
From her earliest years, LeAndra’s winning voice placed her at the top of competitions. His sophisticated vocal abilities earned him Best Soloist honors at the SanFest Music Festival for three consecutive years.
She won the St James We Beat festival amateur night contest in 2004, beating several adult contestants. Also at the San Fernando Jazz Festival that year, she shared the stage with world-renowned South African artist Hugh Masekela and dazzled the crowd with her version of Etta James’ signature hit, At Last. She performed in Manhattan and in 2013 took part in the opera Porgy and Bess in Budapest, Hungary, where she was the youngest cast member.
She and her sister, Tylah, performed at the National Music Festival in 2017 and won the Anne Fridal Cup for Operatic Duet, and she also won Best Folk Choral Performance with the University of Trinidad and Tobago Choir. -Tobago (UTT), where she sang the solo. . She graduated from college that year with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music majoring in voice.
In the ever-changing circumstances of today’s entertainment industry, what are her future career plans?
“With covid still lurking, things are still very uncertain in the performance world. I keep hearing stories of shows being canceled because a lot of the cast have had covid. I just hope that I will be able to continue to have opportunities to play. I would also like to start recording my own music. I have spent so much time in studios working on other people’s music, I feel like it’s time for me to start working on my own.
Another powerful performer at the festival, well known in Europe and the Middle East, is international jazz, soul, funk and techno artist, Sharon Phillips, also known as Anubia Phoenix Nile. Phillips has stunned local audiences in recent years with her performances and rocked the crowd at North Coast Jazz in 2019 with her vocals.
Phillips left Trinidad and Tobago to pursue music internationally at the age of 19, having signed to Brickhouse Records (Germany) and EMI Records (London).
Her songs, Touch Me and Like This Like That, which she composed, went to number one in Spain and number one in most underground dance charts (a fusion of European culture and the ragga soca element).
She has worked with Peppermint Records in Hannover, Germany, and Universal (Berlin, Germany) and participated in James Bond tours as a Bond girl singer with several orchestras in Germany.
Phillips has also made calypso and soca recordings. She is expected to deliver another scintillating performance at the festival.
The festival which begins tonight is themed Family and will feature Machel Montano’s Bazodee for its Friday Night feature which is free to the public.
On Saturdays, some of TT’s leading jazz exponents will entertain patrons from 3pm to 10pm.
For the first time, Blue Sunday is presented with a J’Ouvert from 2am to 7am which will feature DJs and HADCO Phase II.