Maxi Priest adds reggae flavour to Flyover Show
International reggae star Maxi Priest headlined Birmingham’s Flyover Show this weekend as revellers headed to Hockley to enjoy sunshine, Caribbean food and hits from music stars including Janet Kay and Soweto Kinch alongside performances by the Birmingham Royal Ballet.
Despite producing global hits including Wild World, Some Girls Have All the Luck and Close To You, Maxi Priest was more than happy to perform under the Hockley Circus roundabout on the A41 in what has become one of the city’s annual open air musical highlights.
Priest was joined on stage by New York rapper Wordsworth MC, Janet Kay (the first British female black artist to top the UK charts), Steel Pulse’s Basil Gabbidon and DJ Winchester.
With this year’s theme coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence, cultural inspiration was added by breakdancers, graffiti street artists and food stalls as hundreds attended the one-day outdoor community festival.
The free, family-friendly event is the brainchild of double MOBO award-winning jazz saxophonist and rapper Soweto Kinch, who lives in the area. He explained:
“I’m a resident. I live very close to the site. I wanted to do something for people in the area. People here are usually only known for negative things.
“As a jazz musician, I was aware of there being poets, actors and playwrights in this area. I wanted to focus on them, not the guns, for a change.”
Kinch felt the Flyover Show “celebrates the cultural contributions of Jamaica to Britain throughout its programme”, adding: “Artists performing at the event; alongside a preceding series of workshops held in schools across the city, are exploring and representing Jamaica’s influence in the UK, both historically and as a dynamic force in contemporary culture.”
The West Midlands has the second highest concentration of British Jamaicans in the UK, particularly in the areas that join at the Hockley Flyover, such as; Handsworth, Lozells and Aston.
Birmingham was also recently host to the Jamaican track and field 2012 Olympic team, who stayed and trained in the city before the Olympic games.
“Jamaica, much like its athletics team, has imparted a cultural phenomena and impact far beyond its relative size as an island,” said Kinch.
“The Flyover Show 2012 explores, through a variety of platforms, how it has provided a badge of identity in the face of racial marginalization.”
Also performing at the event, which receives funding from the Arts Council England, Birmingham City Council and Marketing Birmingham, were local music artists Lady Leshurr, Queen Nefatiti, Beeniice and Deci4life.
The city’s Royal Ballet was selected to perform a specially commissioned piece called Last Dance, originally created by company dancer Kit Holder for recent the Simmer Down festival.
A special tribute was also made for the late Birmingham-based tenor saxophonist Andy Hamilton MBE, who passed away in June of this year.