A group of 12-year-old students from John Gray High School brought some serious soul to the George Town Public Library Thursday evening.
The Cayman Arts Festival Soul Septet had the public swaying their hips and roaring with applause with heartfelt covers of ‘Mercy’ by Duffy and Steve Booker, ‘Take Me to the River’ by Al Green and ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’ by King Harvest.
The group joined two other acts – the Cayman Arts Festival Jazz Ensemble and vocalist Jaedyn Hanna – on Thursday during the latest instalment of Music at the Library.
The monthly series by Cayman Arts Festival has become a showcase of Cayman’s up-and-coming musicians, as well as a regular fundraiser to support music education.
The soul septet – made up of Dylan Levy, Joshua Clarke, Dejean Sutherland, Rian Vivas, Jancarlos Hernandez, Tamara Bartley and Esther Cameron – began taking form in November 2018. The students had not performed as a group before then, but their passion for music brought them together, according to Cayman Arts Festival.
A hit performance at the National Children’s Festival of the Arts helped the band gain some confidence.
“Their performance of two songs at the festival took everyone by surprise and everyone had their toes tapping to the music,” a Cayman Arts Festival statement read.
They were a hard act to follow, but the Cayman Arts Festival Jazz Ensemble stepped up to the challenge. The group, composed of students from John Gray, Clifton Hunter and University College of the Cayman Islands, took on the tunes of Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington and Stevie Wonder, among others. The young musicians showed ease in riffing and freestyling to give the jazz classics their own style. They also performed an original song called ‘Charc’.
The band includes Cameron Gilson, Hasani Hunt, Kabira Palmer, Chad Hernandez, Antoine Rockett McLaughlin, Joel Taylor and Jordan Bennett.
Next up was vocalist Jaedyn Hanna, who began singing with her church choir at age 4.
“She describes singing as her first love, and [a] secret source of energy,” according to the Cayman Arts Festival.
Music has helped her overcome shyness and build self-confidence. That was apparent Thursday as she belted out seven songs, including ‘Via Dolorosa’ by Billy Sprague and Niles Borop, and ‘Maybe This Time’ by John Kander and Fred Ebb.
This autumn, she will attend Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, where she will study musical theatre.
For more information about Cayman Arts Festival, visit www.caymanartsfestival.com.