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Celebration Of 40th Anniversary Of Independence Kicks Off With Tribute To Hollywood Legend Sir Sidney Poitier

Performances by Award-Winning Music Artists, Fireworks Display

The Islands Of The Bahamas kicked off the year-long celebration of the 40th anniversary of independence with a tribute to an accomplished Bahamian son and international icon, Sir Sidney Poitier. The Oscar-winning actor and successful director was feted with a fireworks spectacular in November, where the western Paradise Island Bridge will be renamed in his honor.

The "To Sir Sidney with Love" dedication is the first of many events happening this weekend and the precursor to events in 2013 that will celebrate The Islands Of The Bahamas' achievements and changing face during the nation's last 40 years, as it grew from British colony to commonwealth. The bridge dedication featured special performances by local Bahamian artists such as the legendary Ronnie Butler, Tingem Dem, Puzzle, The Region Bells, The Rahming Brothers, Angelique Sabrina and an All-Star Bahamian choir featuring Grammy award-winning artist BeBe Winans. On the following evening, pop star and Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson also performed an Atlantis LIVE tribute concert at Atlantis, Paradise Island.

Raised on Cat Island and Nassau, Sir Sidney became the first Black person to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Lilies of the Field in 1964. Leading roles in iconic films followed, including To Sir, with Love; In the Heat of the Night and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. More box office success followed while directing a string of comedy hits, most notably Stir Crazy, Uptown Saturday Night, Let's Do It Again and Ghost Dad.

Sir Sidney Poitier, who maintains close ties to The Bahamas, serving as ambassador to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) from 2002 to 2007 and non-resident ambassador to Japan from 1997 to 2007, was in attendance for the tribute events. The actor's high-profile and international acclaim made "To Sir Sidney with Love" the ideal event to launch and generate awareness for the 40th anniversary of independence.