Billboard Bits: St. Kitts Fest, Parton/Rambo, Johnson

News on St. Kitts Fest, Parton/Rambo, Johnnie Johnson

IsleyThe Isley Brothers, Sister Sledge, and Joe will be the star attractions at the 6th annual St. Kitts International Music Festival, slated for June 27-30 on the Carribean island of St. Kitts. The festival, which will take place at the island's Fort Thomas Hotel, will also feature performances by jazz, blues, soca, and calypso artists from around the world.

Other artists set to perform include the Manhattans, Morgan Heritage, Small Axe, Pung-Wa, Gruvy Band, Square One featuring Alison Hinds, Meko, Tony Rebel featuring Swade Queen Ifrica, Crucial Bankie, Nu Vybes, Coronets Steelband, Kevin Lyttle, Super P., Bond of Love, Freddie McGregor, and St. Kitts native Pat Ross.

"We have had such resounding success through the years and have hosted music's elite at our festival. It really is an exciting time to be in St. Kitts -- wonderful weather, music, and people join forces for a fabulous festival," the island's Minister of Culture Jacinth Henry Martin said in a statement. Past performers have included James Ingram, Take Six, Hugh Masekela, and Chaka Khan.

-- Troy Carpenter, N.Y.

Dolly Parton recently recorded an uptempo track titled "Stand by the River" with gospel artist Dottie Rambo for the latter's forthcoming studio album. "Dolly and I go back to her early days in Nashville and being with her was just like old times for me," Rambo said in a statement. "We plan to write a song together and hope to do more recordings together in the future. I'm just proud to call her my friend." The duo also filmed a music video for the song that will be featured in the upcoming PAX television special, "More Than the Music Live: An All Star Tribute to Dottie Rambo." In addition, Parton sat down for a filmed interview that will be part of an upcoming PAX documentary on Rambo. "Dottie Rambo is a special and precious person," Parton added. "I have always loved her and her writing. I think she is one of the most incredible writers of our time ... or anybody's time." "More Than the Music Live" will be filmed July 31 at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, and hosted by Barbara Mandrell. In 1998, Rambo was feted by a cast of inspirational singers on the Crossroads compilation "A Tribute to Dottie Rambo."

Johnnie Johnson created memorable lyrics in collaboration with Chuck Berry, but words left the blues pianist after he received an honorary college degree. "You are now looking at a man who is at a loss for words. I cannot find the words to express the way that I feel right now," Johnson said Saturday at Fairmont (W.Va.) State College's commencement ceremony. "This is more than I could ever explain," said Johnson, who was given an honorary doctorate in music. Born July 8, 1924, in Fairmont, Johnson was the son of a coal miner. He taught himself how to play the piano, absorbing the sounds of big-band jazz, swing, and country-western that he heard on the radio. He later formed a band called the Johnnie Johnson Trio, which Berry joined in 1952. In 1955, Johnson let Berry take over the band but continued to write and perform with him. Together they created "Roll Over Beethoven," "Sweet Little Sixteen" and other tunes. Berry wrote "Johnny B. Goode" as a tribute to Johnson.

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