Gullah Festival gets rocked by great performances

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By Trey Nelson

Times must be changing, what with hip hop acts such as Finesse’ and Christopher Bacon hitting the stage early Friday afternoon and kicking off the weekend long entertainment portion of the 29th Annual Original Gullah Festival. Both young men took command of the stage and the audience with invocative lyrics and vintage sounds, raising the bar for the quality of the performers who would follow.

The Gullah Festival stuck to its roots with Aunt Pearlie Sue’s storytelling and the students of Whale Branch Early College providing the Festival with jazz ambience throughout the perfect weather on Friday. The day culminated in a Caribbean Dance Party making the Waterfront a funky hot-spot thanks to performers Cliff Burnett and Tatwa.

Saturday saw outliers such as Stee and the Ear Candy Band perform, with an appearance by guest rapper Young Caliber who rocked on a song called “Yum Yum” from Stee’s newest album, The Atypical Playlist. Then it was time. Excitement had been building in steady anticipation all day for the single person we had all been waiting for – the very talented and Lowcountry’s very own, Candice Glover who performed on Saturday night.

Picture the scene: dark, starry night with young children at the front of the stage area alongside their mothers, sisters, grandmothers and friends all shouting “Candice! Candice!” while at the same time, throwing a beach ball in nervous anticipation. For a young lady that said she couldn’t speak Gullah when she was on American Idol, you can’t tell anyone from St. Helena Island that Candice Glover doesn’t put our little part of the world on the map.

Candice marched to the microphone exuding strength and confidence. Belting out her homegrown vocals bred from the church choir and honed by the American Idol judges, this was Candice Glover in her hometown glory. Beaufort witnessed its first star shine bright. She asked the crowd, “Have you ever been in love?” And answered by sharing songs from her album Music Speaks. My personal favorite of the night was “Kiss Me” but there was a fine line between it and my #2 favorite and my #3 favorite. Candice was Candice and she was terrific and memorable.

Candice Glover provided the funk and soul of the Festival, remaining the very Gullah Geechee girl that she was when she embarked upon her future that began with American Idol but has many doors yet unopened. For the acts that came before her on that Waterfront stage, she crystallized inspiration for many of us that something wonderful can come out of the magic of St. Helena Island and Beaufort.

Photos by Bob Sofaly