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Tunes and Turks

The Caribbean and nearby islands in the Atlantic are a happening place for music tourism. We mentioned the Cayman Jazz Fest in June. Jam Cruise 3 sails for the Bahamas in January.

Now we get word about a new festival – The Turks and Caicos Music and Poetry Festival – September 1-5, on Providenciales Island, in the Turks and Caicos. What – you’ve never heard of the Turks and Caicos? The only reason I had is that they are a destination in my RCI Timeshare book, and I thought it was a very peculiar name and must have something to do with the Ottoman Dynasty. But no, I was wrong:

    The beautiful Turks and Caicos Islands are situated 575 miles (or 75 minutes) southeast of Miami. Covering 193 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean, the Turks and Caicos Islands has the third largest coral reef system and the best tropical beaches in the world, making it a premier beach, diving and snorkelling destination and an ideal location for romance, family vacations, ecotourism and adventure seekers, which is probably why 60% of our visitors come back over and over again.

    American Airlines, US Airways, Delta Airlines, Air Canada and British Airways offer direct routes from Miami, New York, Boston, Charlotte, Atlanta, Toronto and London. In addition those wishing to travel from within the region can make it easy by flying with BahamasAir, Air Jamaica Express, SkyKing and Air Turks & Caicos from Nassau, Montego Bay, Puerto Plata, Cap Haitien or Cuba.

    One of the most valuable possessions of the islands are the pristine white sandy beaches, which in total cover 230 miles and are complemented with crystal clear turquoise waters. The islands are relatively flat but vary from sand dunes to lush green vegetation. There are eight inhabited islands: Salt Cay, Grand Turk, South Caicos, Middle Caicos, North Caicos, Providenciales, Parrot Cay and Pine Cay. East Caicos and West Caicos along with several other fascinating cays are uninhabited. People on the islands known as “Belongers” are known for their friendly spirit, which helps ensure this is a destination that helps people de-stress, feel comfortable and truly relax.

    The Tourism industry gives Turks and Caicos its main revenue. In addition to this the country is also a major offshore financial center. There is a small traditional fishing industry that continues throughout the Turks and Caicos islands on South Caicos in particular. The island of Providenciales is our main tourist island, you will find International style hotel accommodations, each one has its own unique set up and surroundings with most of them being located on the beach as well as world class spas and cuisine. Native dishes such as fresh fish and peas and rice are served along with international cuisine with tropical twists, you will find this at most of the restaurants. More casual, rustic and intimate accommodations can be found on the other islands and smaller cays.

    It is estimated that the Turks and Caicos Islands population has between 20,000 and 25,000 residents.

So where did that goofy name come from?

    The name Turks is derived after the indigenous Turk’s Head “fez” cactus, and the name Caicos is a Lucayan term “caya hico,” meaning string of islands. Columbus was said to have discovered the islands in 1492, but some still argue that Ponce de Leon arrived first. Whichever it was, the first people to truly discover the islands were the Taino Indians, who unfortunately left little behind but ancient utensils. Then the Lucayans eventually replaced the Tainos but by the middle of the 16th Century they too had disappeared, victims of Spanish enslavement and imported disease.

    The 17th century saw the arrival of settlers from Bermuda, who established themselves on Grand Turk, Salt Cay and South Caicos. They used slaves to rake salt for British colonies in America, and were later joined by British Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution. The economy of the island revolved around the rich cotton and sisal plantations, their harvests sold in London and New York. Due to competition and the thin soil, however, the cotton plantations slowly deteriorated, most of them finally perishing in a hurricane in 1813. Solar salt became the main economy of the islands.

    In 1766, after being controlled by the Spanish, French and British, Turks and Caicos became part of the Bahamas colony, but attempts to integrate failed and were abandoned in 1848. London – Kingston boats frequently visited Turks and Caicos, so links with Jamaica were well developed. The Turks and Caicos were annexed to Jamaica in 1874. After Jamaicas’ independence in 1962, the Turks and Caicos Islands were loosly associated with the Bahamas for just over 10 years until Turks and Caicos became a British Crown Colony.

    The 1976 elections were won by the PDM, the People’s Democratic Movement, who were then to negotiate independence if they won the next elections in 1980. But the other main political party, the Progressive National Party (PNP), won the 1980 elections and plans for independence were set aside. The Turks and Caicos Islands prides itself on having been stable for 250 years.

Do they mean the islands haven’t tilted? Good thing, that.

Anyway, the players of tunes and utterers of words are descending upon the islands in September:

    The Turks and Caicos Tourist Board, in association with BET Event Productions, is pleased to announce that the Islands’ First Annual Music and Poetry Festival is scheduled for September 1st ­ 5th, 2004 on the beautiful island of Providenciales. Artists scheduled to perform include Jeffery Osborne, Maxi Priest, Chaka Khan, Joe and Boyz II Men as well as some of the Turks and Caicos’ top local artists.

    Events scheduled for the festival include a beach party at Half Moon Beach on Little Water Cay, the Spoken Word Poetry Evenings at Magnolia Restaurant and live music at the main festival stage located at Turtle Cove. The events will showcase a lot of what the Turks and Caicos have to offer: very unique local talent, premier beaches, world-class diving and friendly people.

    Kim Fields,

Not THE Kim Fields!!

    star of the sitcoms “Living Single” and “The Facts of Life,” hosted the festival’s preview show on April 16, 2004; the show was co-hosted by Mr. David Bowen, the Turks and Caicos’ Director of Culture. Kim Fields and Malcolm-Jamal Warner (“The Cosby Show”) will co-host Lyric Café, the spoken word component of the festival.

    Mr. Lindsey Musgrove, the Director of Tourism for the Turks and Caicos commented, “We are delighted to have joined forces with BET Event Productions in order to hold an event such as this in our ‘beautiful by nature’ Islands. The Music and Poetry Festival is the first of its kind in the Islands and will be another great annual event that will help us draw visitors for some fun, sun and relaxation.”

A lineup of soul, reggae and poetry sounds very upscale adult-BET:

    After appearing as a regular on the highly successful sitcom
    “The Cosby Show,” Malcom-Jamal Warner has broken away from
    the stereotype often associated with former child stars. He
    has not only achieved continued success in his acting career,
    but has also received accolades in several new creative ventures
    including playing bass for his band Miles Long, his Performance
    Poetry gigs and civic-minded advocacy appearances.

    Jeffrey Osborne began his professional singing career in 1969 with a popular funk and soul group called Love Men Ltd. The band moved to Los Angeles in 1970 and changed its name to L.T.D. Osborne was originally brought on as the drummer and eventually became the lead vocalist. After more than ten years with the band, he decided to pursue a solo career, which produced such Top 40 hits as “Don’t You Get So Mad,” “Stay With Me Tonight,” and “Love Power,” which he performed with Dionne Warwick.

    Christened the “King of Lovers Rock” by his fans, British reggae star Maxi Priest was one of the most internationally popular reggae singers since Bob Marley. Priest’s pop and modern R&B influences didn’t exactly endear him to reggae purists, but they gave him a strong crossover appeal that paid off in the trans-Atlantic chart-topper “Close to You.”

    Best known for her superb 1984 cover of Prince’s “I Feel for You,” R&B singer Chaka Khan enjoyed solo success as well as popularity as a member of the group Rufus. Born Yvette Marie Stevens in Great Lakes, Illinois on March 23, 1953, she was raised on Chicago’s South Side, and at the age of 11 formed her first group, the Crystalettes. In 1982, Khan recorded Echoes of an Era, a collection of jazz standards featuring performances from Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea and Lenny White. Still, while subsequent LPs like 1986’s Destiny and 1988’s CK kept Khan riding high on the R&B charts, her standing in pop’s mainstream again began to wane, and at the end of the 1980s, she relocated to Europe. In 1990, she won another Grammy for “I’ll Be Good to You,” a duet with Ray Charles. Come 2 My House appeared in 1998. ~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide

    With its smooth brand of doo-wop/hip-hop, Boyz II Men has spearheaded the renaissance of the R&B vocal group, in the process revitalizing Motown Records (the band has become Motown’s best-selling act, and its second album, Boyz II Men II, is the label’s best-selling album of all time). The Boyz have sold over thirty million albums worldwide as of the first half of 1997, and have managed to capture plenty of awards–not to mention plenty of hearts–along the way

    An accomplished vocalist of smooth and sultry R&B productions with occcasional hip-hop beats, Joe’s extensive background in gospel music has allowed him to produce his albums as well as sing on them. A native of Georgia, Joe later moved to Opelika, Alabama; since he was the son of two preachers, he spent much time in church singing, playing guitar and even directing the choir. Influenced early on by gospel stars like the Winans, Commissioned and Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Joe grew to love soul legends Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye plus contemporary stars Bobby Brown and Keith Sweat.

Biz Markie also – I was just digging the remarkable beat-boxsmanship of the Biz in Men In Black 2, wherein the noiseification emanating from his mouth is of such an otherworldly mien that it is used to signal the outing of aliens forthwith.

Check out the radio ad for the concert here

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted,, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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