I arrived in St. Martin full of excitement and ready to embark on a musical exploration and cultural adventure. I headed to my hotel, Belmond La Samanna, a luxury resort with white-washed Mediterranean decor which overlooks a stunning beach on the French side of the island. Staring out at the turquoise water from the balcony of my room, I felt the carefree breeze of island life wash over me and immediately knew that this musical exploration would be a stark contrast from my usual rendezvous with Broadway.
The island of St. Martin is unique in that it's half Dutch (Sint Maarten) and half French (Saint Martin) with a very European culture (and oh my gosh the food!). After unpacking, I decided that I needed my musical fix! I quickly learned that the music scene is as varied as the people. The local genre of music includes Zouk, Reggae, Soca, Caribbean, and Calypso music, and I set out to hear some of it at the local bars.
What struck me about the music was the lighthearted, hopeful and positive nature of it. Unlike Broadway's sometimes comedic but oftentimes powerful, dark and dramatic music, the sounds in St. Martin were light and hopeful yet still evoked a ton of emotion. The music really reflects on the kind and generous, as well as culturally diverse, nature of the people. It's easy to forget that music is an expression of the person, and remembering that really allowed me to get in touch with the people of this beautiful island.
And if one thing was for sure, it was that the people of St. Martin are passionate about their music. When I asked what they can attribute that to, an elderly local man told me that "it unites us all in the world." I couldn't agree more. "And" he adds "it relieves people from the stress of life." Amen to that!
I listened to music all over St. Martin, from the pulsating music in the clubs to the reggae at the outdoor bars to the steel band drums of the street performers. Although I enjoyed all the music I listened to (although I have to admit that with the accent and some of the slang I didn't always make out all the words), Reggae was my favorite as I related the most to the powerful story and emotion behind each song (which reminded me of my beloved Broadway).
Although I'm back in the U.S.A., I can still hear the echo of the pitter patter of people dancing freely, the steel drums being played and the singers belting out their own songs as they sway across the stage, leaving me thoroughly mesmerized.
Au Revoir and Vaarwel, St. Martin. Thanks for the happy memories and the beautiful joyous sounds of your music.