Wyclef Jean, Cyndi Lauper, John Mellencamp, Lauryn Hill and Fantasia are to make first-time appearances at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, joining a line-up of familiar acts for the 43rd annual event.
"This is one of our broadest years, musically speaking," said Quint Davis, producer of the festival that will run seven days, over the course of two weekends at the Fair Grounds Race Course. "We've got important people coming from all ends of the spectrum and for some of them they're all new to jazz fest."
Along with fresh faces, Davis said some of the festival's perennial favourites will return to perform on the 12 stages set up around the track.
"Jimmy Buffett, the Nevilles, Jeff Beck, Irma Thomas, Bon Jovi, these are some of our favourite people and they'll be back," Davis said. "Gregg Allman returns, but this year he'll be a different version of himself. He's coming with his blues band, a new project of his."
Last year, musicians from the Dominican Republic, Martinique and Senegal performed at the festival. This year, the spotlight is on Haiti, still recovering from a deadly January earthquake. In addition to performances by Wyclef, a Goodwill Ambassador to his homeland, fans can experience Haitian rhythms from parading Rara bands, Konpa big-band dance music, traditional drumming and popular contemporary bands including Tabou Combo, Ram, Boukman Eksperyans and Emeline Michel.