Concert Files: Erykah Badu | Annual Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival 2010

Erykah Badu is mesmerizing live. Original, unique in both appearance and style of performance, there is truly no one quite like her. She drew the crowd in at the 2010 annual Jamaica Jazz Festival from the moment she stepped onto stage. Even in complete silence her presence has a weight. An indescribable, ever-present spirit. I had a hard time putting my camera down, I was completely engrossed.

Concert photography is one of my first loves. It’s how I learned how to slowly master my SLR, and continuously learn about  lighting and speed. Mostly, I think it’s because I love to capture people’s emotions and moments in time. Emotions from the artist – whether jumping on stage or leaning towards the crowd or laughing half-way through their song – and emotions from the fans, the crowd. The pulsating sensation from being up front and being able to capture the music and the experience first-hand through my lens – like my own private window into the artist’s soul, hidden from the rest of the crowd – is something I absolutely love. Maybe also because music is a big part of my daily life – I listen to all kinds, from African to reggae, punta, zouk, R&B, soul, calypso, soca, pop, salsa, and merengue… you name it.

I’ve attended many concerts as a fan, and I dare say, I appreciate them more as a photographer. The music hits me. It hits me hard because I am “living” the artist for those two hours or so, through my own bubble, and I see the real person. Passion and creativity at their highest. Then I see the energy around me, and it engulfs me from head to toe.

If, in the end, folks view my  concert photos and walk away inspired and with a sense of the exact mood and sensation of that night, and a lasting memory of the artists’ true spirit… then I will have accomplished my goal.

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Lebawit Lily Girma

Lebawit Lily Girma is an award-winning, Ethiopian-American travel writer, photographer and author of several Caribbean guidebooks for Moon Travel Guides, including Moon Belize, Moon Belize Cayes, and Moon Dominican Republic (October 2016). Her work focuses on Caribbean culture and adventure, and has been published in AFAR, CNN Travel, BBC, Delta Sky, The Guardian, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, and Every Day With Rachael Ray, among many others. Lily is also the 2016 recipient of the Marcia Vickery Wallace Award for Excellence in Travel Journalism for her Caribbean coverage, from the Caribbean Tourism Organization. Lily calls herself a “culture-holic”–she speaks four languages fluently and has lived in Cote d’Ivoire, England, Jamaica, Belize, the Dominican Republic and traveled to some 30+ countries around the world. Last but not least, she is a former corporate attorney who ditched her Washington DC office for the road in 2009 to pursue her dream of becoming a storyteller. Lily holds a Bachelor of Arts in French and Spanish (summa cum laude) from the University of Maryland at College Park, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law.

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