Jazz, wine and a view – a classy way to welcome the New Year, with Connis, Ilismo, Shantilia and Malaika!
This Saturday, January 7, jazz lovers will enjoy sweet sounds and smooth wine at the new rooftop lounge at the Commodore Suites. Here, well-known saxophone player Connis Vanterpool and talented singers Ilismo, Shantilia and Malaika will perform live from 8:00 to 11:00pm with an all-star band comprising Shawn Wilkinson on the keyboard, Michael Wilson on the guitar, Nikita Christmas playing the drums and Jeremy Royer on the bass.
Connis is St. Maarten’s most famous saxophonist and will be hosting this musical evening. Graduating from Berklee College of Music, the talented musician started his music career in 1992. He interned at various studios such as Crescent Moon, South Beach Studios and International Sound in Miami, Florida, and currently plays at various public venues on St. Maarten as well as at private events.
Playing with him on Saturday are some of the island’s most talented musicians.
Formerly known as Cutie Johnson from the Johnson sisters, Ilismo grew up in St. Peters and began singing duets at home with her twin sister Lynn at the age 11. Ilismo eventually joined the church choir and during choir rehearsals, she and her sister would learn the harmonies of all the different sections to amuse themselves. Ilismo started singing professionally at 14 years old.
Taking a break from singing to attend college in 2004, Ilismo graduated with a degree in Computer Information Systems and Video & Radio production. She later pursued the field of Visual Arts with a concentration in Photojournalism and Graphic arts, which helped her direct some of her own music videos.
Together with her twin sister, she released three award winning Gospel albums in 1996, 2008 and 2009. In 2009 Ilismo recorded her song “I see love”, which won the Marlin award for best Jazz recording the same year.
The singer currently resides in Florida where her son goes to school. From there, she travels back and forth to the rest of the United States, the Caribbean, and sometimes even Europe to perform her music, which she describes as a mixture of Caribbean soul and jazz.
Ilismo is currently working on several music videos, including a video for her single “No Matter What, I Love You” and “Motion Emotion”. The artist has been shooting her videos on St. Maarten since June, together with local dancers Jonathan van Arneman, Dashaun Prince and dance group Anaïs Dance Fusion, choreographed by Hillianthe Lynch-Simon. In March, Ilismo will be back in our region, as she will be performing with Bankie Banx in March for Moonsplash.
When asked what she most looks forward to for the Jazz & Wine Night, Ilismo said she wants everyone to have a good time and fun with music. “We tried to do it a bit different than everyone is used to, with the mixture of styles. So I want to see people come out, enjoy and encourage Connis to keep doing these nights.”
Born on the beautiful island of Nassau, Bahamas, Shantilia is the oldest of three daughters. She comes from a very musical and athletic family whose talents span over five generations on St. Martin and abroad. Shantilia was seven yours old when she migrated to Sint Maarten with her family and attended school on the Dutch side. She is now a mother of three boys and currently lives on the island with her husband.
The singer started singing in public at the age of eight with her sister Sharika Patrick – they were known as the Higgs Sisters. In their early stages in the world of music, the Higgs sisters joined the youth choir, the Ambojolettes, under the leadership of Ms. Anastacia Larmonie, and were also members of the gospel group C-United.
In 2012, Shantilia branched off from the Higgs Sisters and began working with other artists for events and gigs. Since then, she has performed and/or studio-recorded with the Freedom Fighters, Ruffy and Pure, Royalty, Musicology, Percy Rankin & the Bonfire Band, Destiny Band, Funk Gumbs, Roxsy, Connis Vanterpool, Betti V, The Soca Rumble Band & Artists, Da Big Band XP, Dakey, among others.
In 2013, the artist recorded her first original single “Don’t Let Me Go” – it was recorded by Mr. Rude at Rock N’ Vibes Studio. Five years later, she competed in Soca Rumble with that song.
According to Shantilia, we can expect a lot musically from her this year. She will be performing at Da Waterhole Beach Bar every Wednesday at 1:00pm and at No Where Special every Thursday from 8:00pm for Ladies Night with the dynamic KR Band.
Shantilia: “My main goal is to be a headliner for some major local and international events. So far, this year has started in that direction with the Peace Concert and now the Jazz & Wine Night this Saturday at the Commodore Suites. For this event, be blown away by some dynamic music with a great atmosphere. We have some of the top musicians and singers on this line-up, so you won’t be disappointed. So come and enjoy some great wine and dance the night away.”
The daughter of a well-known St. Martin musician, who, in 1987, founded his music school, which still operates today; Malaika has been performing since the age of three.
The singer said about her musical career: “Music has always been a part of my life, from being part of my father’s gospel band as a child, to going to Martinique for my studies where I was a background singer for many famous reggae artists, to when I came back to St. Martin and continued doing background vocals for artists from St. Martin and abroad.”
In 2006, the musician launched her solo career with a series of concerts called “The journey to me”. During that time, she was also given the 2016 emerging artist award by the National Institute of Arts and released her first single in 2017.
In 2021, the artist was featured on a single with Fred Deshayes, an internationally known artist from Guadeloupe. Over the years, Malaika has performed for many events and festivals on the island. In 2022, she released her second single, “I Rise”, along with the video produced by DirectorSM.
This year, Malaika will be celebrating the fifth edition of Vision & Voice, an art focused event produced by fellow artists and herself. She will also be releasing some new music and doing some solo performances.
Malaika’s set at the Wine & Jazz Night will mostly represent the soul aspect of the night. She will be doing some classics and some more contemporary songs. “What I look forward to the most is sharing the stage with Ilismo and Shantilia who are both artists that I appreciate very much,” she added.
The Jazz, Wine and a View event with Connis & Friends will take place this Saturday, January 7, at the Commodore Suites above Market Garden in Simpson Bay. The doors open at 8:00pm and tickets cost $20. For tickets and more information, call +1 (721) 522-0518. See you there!