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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Life + Arts

Turnout affects festival’s success

Despite big name musicians known both internationally and locally, only a handful of people showed up at the height of the 6th Annual World Beat Music Fest, amounting to no more than 500 in the crowd.

A Tribute to Jamaica, the festival went on from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday in front of City Hall.

The headliner this year was the legendary Chaka Khan. Steel Pulse also appeared on stage preceded by prominent reggae artists Yellowman and Beenieman. Several local groups represented Houston, including Jah Remedy, Brains for Dinner, Idiginis, Supa Neil and Major Riley.

Many vendors sold a variety of jewelry, hats, sunglasses and traditional Jamaican foods such as jerk chicken.

Many vendors expecting 12,000 attendees were disappointed when, by 5 p.m., only few had showed all day. Most people making purchases appeared to be other vendors.

Many of the vendors thought the high entrance fee prevented the anticipated crowds.

Tickets cost $30 at the door and $27 in advance. The economic climate probably prevented many from attending. Many interested attendees turned away at the gate when they realized the ticket price.

Festival director Don Schwarzkopf said he thought that it was a combination of relatively high ticket prices for an outdoor festival, as well as the summer heat.

From Schwarzkopf’s experience, most people who come to the festival are of a younger crowd than the target audience for headliner Chaka Khan.

Regardless of the small crowd, all artists still put on amazing performances.

The festival ended with an electrifying performance by Grammy-award winning Chaka Khan. With her backup singers dressed all in white, Khan also visually stunned the enthusiastic audience with her own unique style.

She inspired the crowd with words of wisdom about her years of battle with alcoholism and being a delinquent mother. She also told how her mother and Jesus helped her to recover and find her way. She shined on stage with her signature song ‘I’m Every Woman.’

Overall, the 6th Annual World Beat Music Festival would have been a success, had it not been for a lackluster gathering.

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