From Student to Stage

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Every year Honey Jazz runs a Student Ticket Sponsorship Drive in an effort to allow music students across the island – including those from the Barbados Community College and the Barbados Youth Orchestra – who would not be able to afford a ticket to the event, to attend its gala concert.

Previously a one night only engagement, Honey Jazz last year expanded into a four-day festival which featured not only musical performances, but a film screening as well.

Honey Jazz and Honey Jam Barbados founder, Ebonnie Row, describes in her own words the importance of the Student Ticket Sponsorship Drive as well as provides testimonials from a beneficiary of the drive and a local musician.

Jessica Hunte. Photo provided by Ebonnie Rowe. Photography by Anya Stephen.

Jessica Hunte was a student who was chosen in 2015 to receive a sponsored ticket to attend Honey Jazz. 2 years after that, while studying at BCC, she was matched with Ebonnie Rowe to be her mentor and through that relationship was offered an opportunity to perform on the Honey Jazz stage.

Jessica Hunte:

“I was 16 years of age when I heard the name of the show, “Honey Jazz”, I was immediately excited that I was chosen to experience the show, as jazz is my most favorable genre. I was very happy sitting in the audience listening to each artist’s delivery of songs that were familiar and also unfamiliar to me, and falling in love with some of the unfamiliar ones. I remember admiring each artist’s chosen wardrobe and style for the show and their performances as well. I’d always get excited, feeling chills from some of their performances and interpretations of their song choices. It was an awesome experience and a great night. Being chosen to perform at Honey Jazz now is a fulfilling experience. It embodies the elements of performance of my interest. In addition, knowing that my first time preforming was the first year it became a festival, made me proud. I believe that exposure and access to the arts is very important, and any opportunity such as this one, are great for artist development. “

We’re doing our Student Ticket Sponsorship Drive to be able to offer tickets (@$75) to our fundraising gala concert to youth who might not otherwise be able to afford to attend. It’s an impactful musical experience for them and they are so excited to be a part of the audience, inspired by the musicians and singers.

I also felt it was important to introducing young musicians to this genre as there isn’t a lot of opportunity for them to hear it in their day to day lives with the airwaves dominated by soca, hip hop, dancehall and pop. Jazz music helps to build a depth of musical understanding to musicians and singers as well as self-discipline, flexibility, and improvisation something that requires deep knowledge of harmony and music theory.

Jomo Slusher. Photo provided by Ebonnie Rowe. Photography by Andrew Browne Photography.

Jomo Slusher:

“When you look at the music scene in Barbados, there is Jazz influence at every level. It is part of the core of our music, so to be exposed and understand jazz and the history of jazz is also to understand more about our own musical identity. This exposure is key for the development of young singers and musicians because the only way you build an understanding of Jazz is to be fully immersed in it. For young musicians to attend a show of this nature opens up the possibility of them aspiring to perform at that level and also it brings the music closer to home as watching youtube videos and listening to albums can never replace watching and hearing live performances. When I perform at the rare jazz events in Barbados I always have young people approach me wanting to know more about the music. The interest is definitely there, it’s just for them to be given the opportunity”

When we first introduced the sponsor a student initiative a few years ago, we couldn’t keep up with the number of people who wanted to participate and we were able to give tickets to the Barbados Community College music programme, Coleridge & Parry and Harrison College School music programmes, Barbados Youth Orchestra, Operation Triple Threat, music tutors, etc.

However, each year as the economy becomes more challenging the numbers have declined significantly. By this time we would normally have 70 tickets sponsored but so far we just have 2 so we’re making an appeal.

Anyone interested in sponsoring a student can email

Click for full size image.

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About The Author

An avid reader who accidentally discovered her love and talent for writing and has loved movies for as long as she has been watching them. Stumbled into film-making and found her second love because she decided to read for a degree in it on a whim - kind of.