Barbados' First Lady of Jazz

Taste of Barbados










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From Barbados Today.
October 5, 2011
by Kevin Duke

Bajan Jazz Singer CiCi Entertains International Audience

The city of Calgary, Alberta is 4000 miles away, but that didn’t stop CiCi Duke from bringing a taste of her Barbados homeland to her new home in Canada. CiCi, a legendary jazz singer originally from Christ Church, brought “Barbados Night” to Calgary’s hottest jazz club, the Beat Niq, on October 1. 

CiCi and her trio of top-rank musicians added an island groove that spiced up her repertoire of jazz standards, pleasing David Skeete, President of the Barbados Canadian Association of Calgary, and Gail Quinn, a representative from the Barbados Tourism Authority. Barbados flags adorned the walls, and some Bajan seasoning was added by the introduction of Mount Gay rum and rum punch to the jazz club’s menu. 

“It was great to represent Barbados in front of my Canadian fans,” said CiCi. “It made me proud to be singing in front of the Barbados flag.”

CiCi’s inspired performance brought many wows from the packed audience and proved why her shows have been popular in Barbados for nearly 30 years. The multicultural crowd listened intently to CiCi’s soulful voice and her band’s crafty and playful musicianship. Pianist Bruce Petherick was in the pilot’s seat while a fresh rhythm section brought new life to familiar songs. 

“CiCi always performs on stage with a high level of energy,” said Petherick, an Aussie ex-pat. “This energy feeds into from her into the band and then into the audience. She’s always aware of communicating her emotions and musicality with the audience and makes that sense of sharing the most important part of any of her performances. That also means that it is always fun to be on stage with her.”

Brit Brendan Rothwell pumped out stylish bass lines, while drummer Jonathan McCaslin (a recent music PhD) added Caribbean rhythms to the show. 

“Standards have become too regular with many local acts, but CiCi has a different approach and a versatile band,” said an audience member. “Tunes that we have heard many times suddenly sounded fresh again. The reggae-influenced bass and drum work was appreciated on this Barbados-themed evening.”

The Barbados Night gig followed another memorable performance the night before when a woman got up on stage and made an on-the-spot marriage proposal in front of the SRO crowd! The shows on both nights were sell-outs, but the Barbados Night event was a special one.

“CiCi jazzed up the place,” raved Bajan Marcia Chandler afterward. “Nine of my family members went and thoroughly enjoyed the show. We loved her voice and stage presence and her band. She did Barbados proud!” 

Kevin Duke, (2011).  Taste of Barbados.  Barbados Today, (October 5, 2011).

© 2011 Barbados Today

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