Monday, 11 December 2017

LIFE OF THE PARTY: New LTM pantomime pumps up the volume on Jamaica’s world-famous dancehall culture

THEN & NOW: The 'Selecta' plays a pivotal role in the local dancehall - and in the upcoming LTM production.

JAMAICAN dancehall culture has broken barriers internationally (influencing hip-hop, inspiring filmmakers, invading Japan), continuing the tradition of Jamaican music taking the world by storm. But on the local scene, certain negatives threaten to overshadow the strong attributes dancehall brings to the entertainment landscape. With this in mind, Barbara Gloudon has put pen to paper, melody to lyrics, to place this zone of conflict, merriment and noises in the blood at the centre of the 2017 LTM National Pantomime, Dapper Dan: The Anansi Man.

“The dancehall in Jamaica has become far more than we could have imagined, even appearing in several parts of the world. Jamaicans have gone to Europe to teach dancehall, so it has become a source of entertainment and education,” Gloudon tells TALLAWAH, sitting behind her work desk at the Little Theatre Complex.

But make no mistake, dancehall is also a profitable business. This season’s title character is a shrewd businessman and big spender, who is using his dollars and immense influence to champion the positives that dancehall has to offer. “It’s a reflection of what is happening in today’s society,” Gloudon points out. “But the idiom of dancehall is carried throughout. The dancehall can be a space for enjoyment and certain ills like violence, but what Dapper Dan is saying to the people is that the negativity will destroy the dancehall. Enough of the slackness. You have to learn to dance ah yard before you go abroad.”

The musical production, currently at the height of preparation for its big Boxing Day premiere, also sheds light on such issues as citizens’ rights and the critical role of the police in maintaining the peace, law and order. There are colourful characters in abundance, not least among them the no-nonsense Sarge and Woman Officer, the Selecta, the vendors and, of course, the dancing-up-a-sweat party girls.

And don’t be fooled by the Anansi reference of the title; this ‘Dan’ has no tricks up his sleeve. “Like Anansi, he knows how to get around and get things done,” explains Gloudon, who is re-teaming with director Robert ‘Bobby’ Clarke, costume mistress Anya Gloudon and other Pantomime regulars to give the show its juice. Stage regulars Kevin Halstead, Faith Bucknor, Nicole Taylor-Thompson and a handful of fresh faces make up the diverse cast, a blend of youth and experience. 

The show’s core lessons, Gloudon emphasizes, can’t be missed. “Dapper Dan is a memo to young Jamaicans, in particular,” she says, “about upholding certain standards and doing what is expected of you. Learn fi dance ah yard before you go abroad.” 

> Dapper Dan: The Anansi Man opens December 26 at the Little Theatre

MADE IN JAMAICA: Emily B’s exquisite earrings and accessories + Craig Phang Sang’s picture-perfect photographs + Gene Pearson’s astonishing “Art on Fashion”

TAKE IT WITH YOU: Gene Pearson’s masks and other ceramic creations can be found in collections across the globe. Now, the celebrated Jamaican sculptor/artist has widened his reach and diversified his brand to include fashion. Introducing “Art on Fashion” by Gene Pearson. The line includes stylish wardrobe and travel items emblazoned with crisp images of Pearson designs. Ladies-who-lunch might opt for a modal scarf (bearing his 2-colour mask, the green mask or the natural head) or a chic tote bag (showing off his teapot). Party girls might favour his “Face on the Rocks” and “Face Palm” sleeveless tops. As for the guys, you’ll turn heads in the unisex tee brought to life by Pearson’s “Pink Faces” and “Collage 1”. Christmas is upon us so why not treat mommy dearest to a “Bag of Masks” statement bag or a “2 Colour Mask” foldaway tote? For the full catalogue, log on to or visit

FINELY CRAFTED: For designers like Emily Brown, ample reflection and spending time in the great outdoors inspires some of their best work. “I find inspiration in everyday sights and activities – it could be a leaf, a print on a dress. That’s how I created this nature-inspired line, and people have been responding well to it,” shares the 26-year-old Immaculate Conception and UWI Mona grad-turned-jewelry maker and artist, who embellishes her metallic and wooden creations (earrings and other accessories) with mountain ranges, sunsets and other scenic vistas. “Some are paper-made from scratch. But I also use beads, a lot of brass, copper, shell and wood.” As a result of her “labour-intensive” efforts, Brown’s products (under her Emily B label) are alluring works of arts and exquisite studies in subtlety and minimalist chic. She fully intends to spread her wings and make a foray into bridal and lifestyle design. “I want to create a lifestyle brand,” she says of her vision. “Apparel, shoes, and different kinds of accessories.” Follow her on Instagram at EmilyBJm (via

NATURAL BEAUTY: Craig Phang Sang should publicly exhibit his work more often. He’d attract patrons by the hundreds. The seasoned photographer, who’s been honing his craft for decades, has a knack for capturing the most breathtaking images with his lens. All black and white. All stunning in form and function. They make ideal collectors’ items and holiday gifts. His enormous portfolio was a major attraction at last Sunday’s Liguanea Art Festival, drawing festivalgoers who loaded his guestbook with comments expressing awe at his discerning eye. The Asian-Jamaican’s pieces range from landscapes and portraits to idyllic Jamaican scenery and Mother Nature in all her regal glory. View his galleries and make your purchases at

COMFORT ZONE: Karen Booker’s cool ‘Happiness by Design’ concept invites J’cans to create their own nirvanas

WELCOME ABOARD: Booker and guests enjoy the tastefully upgraded surroundings at the Downtown-based station.

EXPERTS – not just interior decorators – agree that your living space should be treated as a sanctuary, your quiet retreat from the noise, the hustle-and-bustle of the outside world. Karen Booker has been preaching this for years. Now, the lifestyle maven (and long-certified design diva) has come up with a cool concept to better demonstrate what she’s been talking about.

On Sunday, November 26, Booker and her team invited a select group of guests down to the old railway station, adjacent to the Coronation Market, to unveil Happiness by Design, an illustration of how to enliven your personal space and create your very own nirvana. Why the old train station? Booker, a 70s girl at heart, wanted to pay homage to Jamaica’s rich cultural heritage and give a nod and a saucy wink to her roots.

“I have all these wonderful memories of growing up in Jamaica and riding the trains, so I was thinking why not draw on those iconic roots. And I’m a Downtown junkie. I’m all for the restoration of Downtown Kingston,” said Booker, outfitted from crown to sole in full flapper-era costume – an exquisite touch for a doyenne of design and haute style that extended to her staffers. They greeted guests upon arrival at the station entrance looking like dames (feather boas included), who frequented the jazz clubs you saw in Chicago. Her guys sported suspenders, newsboy caps and smart shirts.

As for the place itself, what a transformation! The old made to look gloriously new – the past and the present having a dancefloor moment to a Duke Ellington soundtrack. Happiness by Design indeed; the Karen Booker magic touch on full display. “This place was absolutely toe-up from the floor up. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Trust me, that is the truth,” she dished to TALLAWAH. “We’ve given it a fresh coat of paint and put in some seating. It’s like a breath of fresh air.”

Rented for just four hours for today’s showcase, the train coaches were done up to epitomize rustic chic – think spotless white curtains, neat plush pillows on the seats and jazzed-up lighting. In the end, a fresh challenge for Booker translated into a glorious style statement about tuning out the noise and tuning in to calm, soothing ambience for rest and relaxation and recharge. 

“In today’s world, people are bombarded with so many noisy distractions and we are forced to bring it home. But your home is not the place for that. So what I’m saying is, Turn of the craziness. Recharge. Don’t have your home be an extension of your outside life,” advises Booker, who often brings her expertise to TV audiences and magazine readers, enlightening Jamaicans on how to create happy and inviting home spaces. And the response from folks islandwide has been amazing. “Our kind of style takes a holistic view,” the creative director says. “You design your life from the inside out.”

Thursday, 7 December 2017

OUT & ABOUT: Dionne Jackson-Miller + Dr. Chris Tufton + Audrey Marks + Damion Mitchell + June Wong + Jack Dorsey + PM Andrew Holness

PARTY OF FOUR: Dec. 2, St. James. Making his first trip to Jamaica, to share insights with conference attendees at the Tech Beach Retreat in Montego Bay, Jack Dorsey (Founder of Twitter/Square), second right, pauses for a quick snap with US Ambassador to Jamaica Audrey Marks, event co-organizer Kirk-Anthony Hamilton, second left, and Kyle Maloney. (Photo: Audrey Marks)

WORK OF HIS HANDS: Dec. 3, St. Andrew. Sunday’s 13th staging of the Liguanea Art Festival had no shortage of appealing sights and sounds, featuring stunning artwork by such noted names as Gilbert Nicely, who gave festival coordinator June Wong the grand tour of his exhibit. (Photo: Liguanea Art Festival)

AWARD WORTHY: Dec. 2, Kingston. Jamaica’s hardworking media professionals, including Press Association president Dionne Jackson-Miller and the Gleaner/RJR’s Damion Mitchell, came together to honour their peers at Saturday’s glitzy PAJ/National Journalism Awards at the Courtleigh Auditorium in New Kingston. Among the night’s big winners were Nationwide News Network and The Gleaner Company. (Photo: Sleek)

POINT OF INFORMATION: Nov. 29, Kingston. A packed Jamaica College auditorium gave PM Andrew Holness a keen listening ear as he addressed issues ranging from youth unemployment to economic growth at the Youth Edition of his increasingly popular and important OPM Live series. The series continued at the Emancipation Park this past Tuesday evening. (Photo: Jamaica House)

OPEN HOUSE: Nov. 28, St. Andrew. Located inside the Half Way Tree Transport Centre, a newly renovated space, dubbed the “Teen Hub,” will provide adolescents with access to computers for school projects, counselling and other educational services, thanks to a partnership between the UNFPA and the Ministry of Health (and other stakeholders). Participating in the recent official opening are health minister Dr. Chris Tufton, Simon Spence (also representing the MOH), St. Andrew Technical student Jerome Reynolds and State minister for Youth, Floyd Green(Photo: UNFPA)

GOOD NEWS: Festival Song Competition gets $10M prize package + New cancer treatment centre opens at Cornwall Regional + Sagicor Bank taps Chorvelle Johnson for CEO post

MUSIC TO OUR EARS: Culture minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange says a serious review of the prize package for the Jamaica Festival Song Competition has resulted in an unprecedented $10 million being set aside for the 2018 staging of the competition, which got a rousing launch at corporate hotspot @Twentythree on Dominica Drive in New Kingston last Thursday evening. Grange noted that in addition to an attractive set of prizes for the winner, there will be significant benefits for songwriters and other creatives, while all ten finalists will be handsomely rewarded for participating in the competition. “We made the decision to begin the programme earlier to address several issues and to facilitate workshops and give people the opportunity to learn the songs and get to know the contestants.” Grange told the sizeable gathering. The winner, she said, will be announced at the grand finale scheduled for July. “So we want sponsors to partner with us and we look forward to the great music that we will produce,” Grange added. Started in 1966, the Jamaica Festival Song Competition is one of the longest-running music contests in the island unearthing and showcasing the talents of vocalists and songwriters. 

IN TREATMENT: Constructed and outfitted over a two-year period at a cost of US$15 million, a new cancer treatment facility to benefit patients in Western Jamaica has been opened at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay, thanks to the collaborative efforts of the CHASE Fund, the Vincent HoSang Family Foundation, the Tourism Enhancement Fund and the National Health Fund. A Linear Accelerator machine and a brachytherapy machine are among the facility’s new state-of-the-art equipment to combat the deadly disease. The hospital’s Radiotherapy Department has also been expanded to include a reception area and a control room. A similar cancer treatment centre is to be opened at Kingston’s St. Joseph’s Hospital in 2018. 

THE WOMAN FOR THE JOB: As of January 29, 2018, Chorvelle Johnson will occupy the post of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sagicor Bank Jamaica Ltd, which made the announcement on Monday. With over two decades of service to the sector already under her belt, Johnson has held senior management positions at First Global, Proven Wealth and Proven Fund Managers. “I am very excited to have Chorvelle join our team,” says Sagicor Group President, Chris Zacca. “She is a dynamic, results-oriented leader and is a trailblazer in the financial services industry with an impressive track record of success at the leadership level.”

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

NEW ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Trusting her instincts and following her passion brings results for up-and-comer Jodian Findley

MAKE YOU MINE: Findley shows Wesley 'Burgerman' Burger what he's been missing in this scene from Something Fishy.

JODIAN Findley’s natural flair for performance and her immense passion for Jamaican culture has made her a rising star. The 28-year-old actress is not a trained thespian. She’s been trusting her instincts and following her light since her primary and high school days, putting together groups for skits and being an active member of her church – writing, co-starring and directing small productions. It was while doing a play for church, circa 2010, that she caught the attention of fledgling playwright Fabian Barracks, who was so impressed by her stage presence that he invited her to audition for his first major play, Family Remedy, which eventually opened to strong reviews that same year, with Findley cast in one of the pivotal roles.

Findley, a statuesque young woman at almost six-feet-three, has been moving forward in her stage career ever since, sticking close to Barracks Entertainment. Her penchant for combining great comedic timing with a touch of the dramatic was on full display in shows like 2016’s Barrel Pickney and this year’s Wah Sweet Nanny Goat, but it’s her performance in this season’s Something Fishy that has people talking and drawing comparisons to Andrea ‘Delcita’ Wright.

Findley steals scenes opposite her veteran costars Karen Harriott and Angela Jarrett, playing Juliet, a nosy neighbour and close friend who eventually reveals her true colours. To say the least, Findley brings the laughs. When she’s not onstage we miss her.

For the Queen’s School graduate, who has a special love for Oliver Samuels, self-expression has always been her thing, so pursuing a stage career at this point in her life is a welcome turn of events. “I love theatre. It’s a real passion. It’s great stress relief. If I am having a bad day, once I get into character I feel so much better. It doesn’t feel like work,” says the Portmore native, who later studied Business Administration at Excelsior Community College.

Career-wise, theatre is now her full-time focus; she wants to devote all her energies to honing her craft. Besides, the flexibility that comes with an acting career allows her to better cater to her five-year-old special needs son, whom she prefers to care for in a totally hands-on way. “I’m considering acting full-time because I’ll be able to spend more time with him. It’s a challenge,” she admits, “but the flexibility of doing theatre really helps.” 

Findley considers herself a shy person, but that persona is a far cry from the comic ferocity she brings to the stage, testament to her innate ability to disappear into a role and convince her audience. Whether she’s dishing about Something Fishy’s relationship-dynamics arc or recalling her coming-of-age days in Waltham Park, volunteering for inner-city community projects, the person revealed is a headstrong Jamaican willing to pour time, effort and energy into doing what she loves most. 

Jodian Findley intends to keep trusting her instincts, following her light and making industry connections. She’s also on the lookout for opportunities for training and further growth. “I can confidently say I have matured as a performer since I started out. I consider myself an on-the-rise talent, and I’m happy that people are getting to see me more,” she says. “I still have a lot more training to do, a lot more to learn, but I’m getting there.” 

> Review: Something Fishy uneven but brings the laughs

NEWS & NOTES: Usain Bolt overwhelmed by statue honour + Gleaner dominates Journalism Awards + Twitter’s Jack Dorsey meets with Jampro’s Diane Edwards

LASTING LEGACY: On Sunday, Usain Bolt joined the pantheon of Jamaican sports icons (Merlene Ottey, Herb McKenley) to have life-size statues officially unveiled in their honour on local soil. In the presence of PM Andrew Holness, Dr. Peter Phillips, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, JAAA President Dr. Warren Blake and overseas guest like NACAC President Victor Lopez, the Basil Watson-designer sculpture (depicting the legendary sprinter striking his signature To Di Worl’ pose) was the main attraction at a ceremony at Independence Park, National Stadium Complex. Speaking with reporters afterwards, Bolt could hardly find the words to respond to the overwhelming moment. “I’ve never ever, at no point, felt that I would be in this moment, as big as it is now, among statues at the National Stadium, where it all began. This is why I always encourage everybody, and this is why my motto says anything is possible, no limits,” said the patriotic son, whose phenomenal and meteoric rise in athletics began at the 2002 World Juniors and culminated this past summer at the World Championships in London. “I’ve really put out my hardest to make this country proud, and even though I’m retired, I will always try my best to continue making my country proud.” 

THE FRONT PAGE: Andrea Chisholm (TV-J) is Jamaica’s reigning Journalist of the Year, while Syranno Baines is her junior counterpart. The announcements came Saturday night as the National Journalism Awards (put on by the Press Association of Jamaica) crescendoed inside the Courtleigh Auditorium in New Kingston, bringing the curtains down on another successful Journalism Week. The Gleaner Company took home a hefty prize haul: the Morris Cargill Award for Opinion Journalism (won by columnist Gordon Robinson), the Junior Dowie Award for Sports Photography (Ricardo Makyn), the Hugh Crosskill/Raymond Sharpe Award for Investigative Journalism (Dania Bogle and TV-J’s Jordan Forte) and Best Human Interest Feature – Print (Corey Robinson), among others. Nationwide News Network copped the President’s Award for Investigative Journalism. 

TWEET ELITE: Jamaica’s west coast welcomed a host of international guests this past week, on the occasion of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Global Conference and the Tech Beach Retreat – both hosted in Montego Bay. Among the foreigners jetting in was Jack Dorsey, co-founder of social media trailblazers Twitter, who put in an appearance at the Tech Beach event, which attracted innovators and entrepreneurs galore to hear about the latest developments in their sector and what’s on the horizon. Making his first trip to the island, Dorsey reportedly had word with President of Jampro, Diane Edwards, and other Jamaican officials, discussing how Twitter and other well-respected platforms can help Jamaica improve its digital footprint.