The Review of Kaya Fest…He Said/ She Said || Caribbean Event Review

Kaya Fest was an all day star-filled musical event while focusing on creating public awareness on the many uses of the cannabis plant.

In addition to the concert Kaya Festalso hosted a free symposium on April 21st featuring a panel of experts in the field of medical and industrial cannabis as well as the regulation aspects of the plant.  Medical Cannabis has recently been legalized in the state of Florida. The many health benefits of the cannabis plant have been reported to include treatment of glaucoma, control epileptic seizures, stop cancer from spreading, slow progression of Alzheimer’s disease, ease pain of multiple sclerosis, discomfort of arthritis, treatment of Lupus and Crohn’s disease. The message of Kaya Fest is…  Education Before Recreation-Raising consciousness and spreading unity. (Source: Members of the 2BKaribbean team had the pleasure of experiencing the festival and shared their different opinions on the concert from their individual perspectives.



by Marissa Williams


Bayfront in Miami was a good location for this event. Not the best, but definitely good. With the easy accessibility, the large comfortable space for the audience and the nearby sea breeze to absorb the mystics in the air-it definitely set the right tone and flavor for the event. On the other hand, they also seem to have a very strictly enforced time policy which is not always the best idea for Caribbean centric events. Another element that took away from the overall gentle, embracing atmosphere of the concert was the ever present security from LivNation. Many of whom did not seem to be well trained in crowd and people management.



As per usual, any concert headlined by the Marley brothers is bound to attract an eclectic mix of patrons. From the Bobo Shanti brothers with their crowns wrapped tight, to the patrons who associate a reggae festival with Hawaiian t-shirts and coconut drinks; everyone was there in full glory bonded by a love of music, Bob and kaya. It was a fun crew for the most part. It was an interesting mix from all tastes in music and culture.



Generated by IJG JPEG Library
Generated by IJG JPEG Library

We walked in to the closing acts of the Sean Paul set, followed by a DJ from Boom 99 who played primarily rap. For me it was the period to fill upon coconut water and corn, and find a spot to settle in for the rest of the night’s festivities. I would admit that even though I understand the desire to cater to all audiences, the DJ could have played a little less rap and hip hop given he was a reggae festival with an audience who would most likely appreciate more of the same.

Wyclef Jean was definitely a performance highlight for me. He engaged the crowd using every medium he could think of, from playing his acoustics with his teeth, to jumping into the crowd and having a chanting session back and forth, to getting his DJ to play classic hits that got the crowd roaring. By the end of the set you forgot that the rain had started. Yaardcore was up next and was the perfect segway into the Marley brothers set. He played conscious hits from way back when conjuring up memories for me of high school days.

Courtesy: Miami Hurricane

The transition period between sets seemed a little longer than usual but thank goodness for good uplifting, positive music to just relax into the moment regardless. The Marley legacy was well represented by performances by Bob Marley’s grandsons. I have watched the development of Jo Mersa (son of Stephen) as a performer over the last few years and he continues to grow from strength to strength. He had a commanding stage presence and strong delivery of his music. Skip Marley (son of Cedella) also graced the stage with an enchanting song encouraging listeners to calm down. His future as a performer is bright.  The Marley brothers then blazed on the stage conjuring classics from their father, before, splicing in hits of their own.

Rita Marley gracing the crowd with her presence was definitely a high point for most, as they observed the matriarch of the Marley family in all her glory. Damian Marley’s son was another performance highlight as he grabbed the mike and at such a young age seemed  fully focused on entertaining and engaging the crowd.  The Marley brothers put together a good set with a mix of their own songs as well as tributes to their father’s legacy. However, their delivery seemed a bit rushed at times. Which was interesting since the transition of their set to Lauryn Hill’s seemed to take more time than it should. Lauryn’s songs are classics, so the crowd was eagerly anticipating her set. For me , it was a bit underwhelming. As intriguing as the Afrocentric remix was on some of her old classics, she seemed to spend the entire set trying to communicate with the acoustic team in the back rather than engaging the audience in front of her. The concert ended abruptly, without warning or goodbyes. And then came those ever friendly LivNation security people again rushing everyone out the door.  Did I enjoy this concert- MOST DEFINITELY! Would I fly in on a last minute ticket from Atlanta to see it again-time will tell.



by Jason Walker

Kaya Festival is a celebration of Reggae music and of Bob Marley’s life through the execution of his sons. Ziggy, Stephen, Kymani, Julian and Damian.
This occurred in downtown Miami at the infamous Biscayne Arena, overlooking Biscayne Bay. When I arrived music was pumping loud and the festival already on the way and there was Natural Mystic flowing through the air. The audience, like the city of Miami, was very bohemian, there was not as strong presence of Jamaicans like most reggae Festivals but an eclectic mix of the cultures from around the world that appreciate Reggae music.
Getty Images
Courtesy: Getty Images

Onstage was Sean Paul the current generation of the more successful reggae artist. Sean was going through his hits Fahrenheit was on stage hyping him and the crowd up, Shaun “Copper Shaun” Anderson was providing music from turntables along with Sean Paul’s band bringing live music. Sean had his dancers backing them up creating energy on stage and an audience that were very familiar with his international hits, as he went through his Billboard charting hits. The performance was definitely tailored for this crowd.

During the band change we were entertained with some good music that helped to create a really nice vibe amongst the crowd which unfortunately was interrupted by brute and rude behavior of the Live Nation security. I don’t know if Live Nation security has much experience with Reggae festivals but the behavior definitely interrupted the easy laid-back flow that’s normally associated with such festivals.
Wyclef Jean was next and he put on the performance of the night. Wyclef performed his hits, Wyclef played & performed songs, done by others, Wyclef played instruments and he showed his amazing diversity of a true performer. His performance was a great example of high energy, true showmanship and an excellent understanding of his audience. He gave us brand-new music along with the hits, something I really appreciate, and he went into the crowd getting them Hype and bringing them into his powerful energy. Something that is note worthy though is that Wyclef shouted out to the crowd that there will be a Fugees album in the future, the hip pop legend, brought fame by the group he pioneered, the Fugees, made a powerful statement that music lovers would love to see come true. Lauryn Hill, another member of the Fugees, who was the headlining act of the whole show was in the place, so one can only hope she heard his plea and will be on board, who knows?

Then came the Marleys. The new Marleys for a new generation were Skip Marley and Jo Mersa Marley (Bob’s Grandchildren), they both executed and performed well. This  was my first time seeing Skip and he did a good job. He went through his sets like a professional and engaged the crowd. Joe Mersa who also did well, gave us quality music and was almost like a veteran in his execution of stage presence.

Kaya Fest and 2Bkaribbean-JO
Courtesy : Jamaica Observer
This was followed by the brothers Ziggy, Stephen, Kymani, Julian and Damian. Seeing the brothers in what became an almost eclectic jam session ofartists where they took turns from song to song. The brothers  started off with the singing of their father’s hits. What was striking was how at ease Ziggy seemed and how take charge Damion seemed and how laid-back yet orchestrating Stephen seemed, The brothers put on what I found to be a very entertaining set, they started going into their own signature hits along with new hits and even variations of both their hits and their father’s hits, combining the new and old. The performances flowed well and were a great representation of the father’s and of Reggae music.
Unfortunately the Marley brothers seemed to be cut short whether by time constraints, something we had heard from Wyclef earlier that night,or for some other reasons Ziggy suddenly disappeared and Stephen fully took over as what would turn out to be a band change from Lauryn was about to happen. The next  moments were awkward as the crowd did know what was happening and the delay seem to be missing some important elements. However finally Lauryn Hill came to the stage to a very positive response unfortunately she did not really connect to the crowd. She went right into her set. She started what seemed to be an almost  creative Reggae version of “Everything is Everything” yet it seemed rushed. She then hit “Doo-wop” which caught the crowd for a quick second but then also seem rushed, she herself seem to be almost annoyed with possibly the band or something else happening on stage and people began walking out. After a couple more songs she walked off and the show ended.
The end was strange & the atmosphere created by security was strange however for most of the night the music was great was a great opportunity to interact with people who love reggae music and to hear great Reggae music from various artists with various styles. The performer of the nigh was surely Wyclef and it was great to see the Marley brothers working in a fantastic mentor along with Erica Newell one of the founding members of the Melody Makers was good. Lauryn’s performance looked like it really could have been something epic but it fell way short and that’s not going to do good for her reputation as a performer. Kaya Fest  put a good step forward with some areas needing improvement but it was a really nice treat. It was a great treat seeing Rita Marley, the matriarch of the Marley Family, although in a wheelchair,  joyfully waving to the adoring fans. I’ll definitely check out Kaya fest next year.

SOUND OFF: Were you there? What did you think of Kaya Fest?


Jason Walker28 Posts

Patriot, Jamaican, Caribbean, Pan African, Humanist, Radio Personality, DJ. I have worked over 20 years as a Journalist for Caribbean Today Magazine, WRFG Radio 89.3 FM, Cross Over Media and several media outlets in the Caribbean and the US.


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