Thursday, 23 July 2015

CHAT ‘BOUT: Dr. Angella Brown-Burke + Michael Dyke + Owen Arthur + Usain Bolt + Miguel Coley

“These guys are dreaming big now, and the opportunity is there to win. And if they don’t take it, they would be disappointed and Jamaica would be disappointed. But mentally we have to be really focused and ready. We back ourselves 100 percent that we can win. We just have to be tactically astute and very disciplined on the field.”  Reggae Boyz’ assistant coach Miguel Coley on the team’s chances of winning the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup 

“When I really realized I was getting older was last season when I got injured. Trying to get back was much harder than the years when I was younger. Now it takes time to get going, and I need a lot more races. I’ve noticed that I have to be very careful, and I just have to be aware of everything around me and make sure I’m on point.”  Jamaican track superstar Usain Bolt in an interview this week with the IAAF Inside Athletics programme about prolonging his sprinting career 

“Michael Manley will go down as the person who tried to carry Jamaica in one direction, representing that he has made some fundamental mistakes and was big enough to say so. It takes a whole lot of man to do that, especially if you live as a politician out in full glare of public life.” ― Former Prime Minister of Barbados Owen Arthur addressing a Gleaner’s Editors’ Forum in Kingston last week 

“Naturally we would have been disappointed knowing we only garnered one medal. But when you look at the level of competition here, it would have been extremely difficult based on this high standard that we have been experiencing, and with the [unsatisfactory] level of preparation of our athletes especially after the Boys and Girls Championships." ― Michael Dyke, head coach of Jamaica’s contingent to the 2015 IAAF World Youth Champs, citing lack of preparation for the team’s dismal performance at the championships 

“And even as global and economic development tops the agenda we are mindful of our symbiotic relationship with the environment. Jamaica’s climate sensitivity and climate vulnerability make long-term climate change a developmental issue that must be given serious and urgent consideration now.”  Mayor of Kingston, Dr. Angella Brown-Burke, in a release prior to participating in a workshop on climate change and modern slavery this week at the Casina Pio IV in Vatican City

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OUT & ABOUT: Seen on the scene at Reggae Sumfest 2015

A TO Z: “I like to call it ‘warrior princess’,” is how pop-dancehall entertainer Zhavea describes her electric musical style, which was in full flight on International Night II at Catherine Hall. The Cali-based artiste, readily cites Janet Jackson among her idols. “She’s just phenomenal,” she tells TALLAWAH. “I like the way she’s perfected the art of dancing and singing, and that’s something I want to bring to my own career.” 

IT TAKES THREE: Moments after turning up the heat on the mainstage during the Pepsi Refresh Hour, deejay Kalado made his stop in the press room, where he shared lens time with cool girls Lori-Ann and Valencia of Creative Marketing Associates. 

DREAM TEAM: Easily one of the most triumphant showings at the festival came from reggae/lover’s rock crooners LUST, a stellar band that seems to get better with time. Here, the fantastic four field post-performance questions from the media. 

UP FRONT: A woman who wears many hats these days, Rising Stars’ hostess and The Gleaner’s Online Brand Manager Terri-Karelle Reid (right) and Ashley Miller of TV-J’s Intense were fixtures inside the VIP area, soaking up the feel-good vibes all weekend long. 

GIRL POWER: Songstress Jennifer Hudson got a run for her money when the time came for her to duet with contest winner Allison Roberts, who threw herself into the performance, earning vociferous cheers from the home crowd and the J-Hud stamp of approval.

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SHOW STOPPERS: The 10 Best Moments at Reggae Sumfest 2015

Reggae Sumfest 2015 delivered everything a great live music event should: phenomenal acts, captivating performances, and a production value that fused state-of-the-art technology with audio-visual wizardry. In short, what played out at Catherine Hall on the weekend was both spectacle and solid entertainment. Here, TALLAWAH puts the spotlight on ten performers (a mixed bag in no particular order) who proved unforgettable. 

As the long-reigning queen of the Jamaican dancehall, Marion Hall can lay claim to some serious firsts. Add to the list: the first female act to close Dancehall Night, rising to the occasion in her own inimitable style (translation: raunchy-riotous-perversely funny) to surpass even our wildest expectations. Highlight: Now we have a whole new definition for the phrase “likkle bit” 

2. LUST 
We always knew these talented brothers could carry a tune, but nothing prepared us for the hair-raising harmonies and captivating stage presence they brought to Catherine Hall on Saturday night, as they breezed through their popular hits with equal parts ferocity and finesse. Highlight: A masterful rendition of “Just as I Am” 

Whether you were hooked by her sassy repartee, dazzled by her supersexy ensemble, or simply left mesmerized by her out-of-this-world vocals, J-Hud left no doubt as to why she’s heiress apparent to Whitney Houston’s throne, holding us in her thrall for well over an hour. Highlight: Her encore-generating rendition of the Dreamgirls power anthem “And I Am Telling You” 

There is something to be said for the smooth and conscious stylings of this roots-reggae soldier who lets his voice do the work. And what an instrument! Without a doubt, Jesse’s whole vibe speaks to what a reggae festival is all about. Highlight: The tender-tough appeal of his mid-performance tune “Ghetto Girl” 

Who better to bring the curtains down on Sumfest 2015 than the man who lives for big moments like these? Moses proved an unstoppable lyrical force in the wee hours of Sunday morning, delivering a near-seamless blend of hits old and (fairly) new to produce a performance fit for the record books. Highlight: The whole show 

This year, TALLAWAH’s prize for most outstanding up-and-comer to grace the mainstage falls to this Ocho Rios native, who captivated the early crowd Friday night with rock-star edge, shimmering pop gloss, and a tight mix of originals and covers. Highlight: A take-no-prisoners riff on Rihanna’s “Better Have My Money” 

A supercool addition to this year’s International Night package, Pepsi ambassadors Kalado, Chi Ching Ching, Zagga, Ikaya, Raine Seville and Denyque needed no more than sixty minutes in all (each performing brisk individual sets) to bring the house down with their vibrant energy and crowd-pleasing balance of song and dance. Highlight: Denyque's sizzling "Ring the Alarm" bit 

8. T.I. 
If there’s one thing this pint-sized rap star doesn’t fall short of it’s the hefty swagger to complement his fiery and hard-hitting rhymes. There was plenty to go around as the Atlanta all-star worked the Catherine Hall stage on International Night 1 to bombastic effect, scoring a triumphant Jamaican debut. Highlight: A cameo appearance by Beenie Man that only served to up the ante 

This increasingly popular reggae band brought a very Wailers-esque vibe to the mainstage, producing a performance as memorably rootsy as it was frequently riveting. Just one quibble: We feel the set was way too short for an act of their caliber. But that took nothing away from the overall potency of the performance. Highlight: “Judgement Day” given a righteous-meets-classic spin 

The Chi-Town-bred MC stayed true to the conscious-cool formula that has worked for him for decades, lacing the jam-packed crowd with powerful anthems of uplift, ranging from “The People” to “Testify” to the Oscar-winning gem “Glory.” Highlight: Performing “Come Close” as a serenade to beaming audience member Tiffani

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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE: For Jill McIntosh, netball development in Jamaica is work in progress

HOLDING COURT: It's a pleasure working with such talented girls, says McIntosh (inset).

A strategist and deep thinker who has fashioned a reputation as a woman who specializes in results, Jill McIntosh knows all about using a little to produce something truly spectacular. It’s one of the reasons the Australian pro has fit in so well with Netball Jamaica as Technical Director of the senior squad, the Sunshine Girls – a team she describes as a set of hardworking young women who can go the distance, thanks to their dedication, willingness to embrace new ideas and make do with limited resources.

“It’s very hard to compete at the international level without all the necessary resources. It’s tough. But these Jamaican girls do it and still do better than so many other countries,” McIntosh tells TALLAWAH during a rare break from her duties one recent evening at the Leila Robinson Courts. “I think the other countries could learn a lot from these Jamaican girls.”

It helps that McIntosh, a veteran of the Aussie school of high performance, is such a consummate professional that her expert conditioning of the girls and guidance of coaches Minette Reynolds and Annette Daley has had splendidly nurturing effects on the national programme. The vast improvement in the team’s on-court style, including their agility and overall effectiveness, speaks volumes. “I enjoyed working with [the team] the first time I was here for the Commonwealth Games. So when [President Marva Bernard] asked me to come back for a second time, I didn’t hesitate to say yes,” Jill remembers. “This is a very talented group of girls who have terrific skills, and it’s great to work with talent like this.”

Born and raised in Perth, situated on the western coast of Australia, Jill McIntosh’s bio reads like that of a Hall of Fame honoree of the sport of netball, commencing with her days as a schoolgirl star of the game, all the way up to her retirement from the court in 1986 to take up coaching. She famously coached the Australian senior team to global dominance from 1995 to 2013, the year that Jamaica hosted the World Championships inside a brand-new National Indoor Sports Centre.

So, if there’s anyone who can show our local girls how to beat the best in the world, Jill McIntosh is the woman for the job. Does she feel that our new-look Sunshine Girls has what it takes to finally ascend to #1? “It’s a tough call. The top four teams in the world work extremely hard when it comes to the big championships, and it’s who makes the least mistakes on the day that will win the gold,” she posits. “It’s a psychological battle, but these girls definitely have the mental toughness that it will take to win the championship.”

Fresh from their 3-0 test series triumph over Barbados in June and a clean sweep of their matches against the Berger Elite All Stars only a couple of weeks ago, the Girls are on a high heading into the World Cup, set for August 7-16 in Sydney. As it turns out, the tournament will also mark the final hurrah for McIntosh on this life-changing Jamaican odyssey, which officially ends in September. What will she do next? “I love coaching, so I am looking forward to working with some of the local teams when I return home,” shares the sixty-something McIntosh, whose current home is based in Canberra.

Looking ahead, Jill says that when her final day in Jamaica arrives she will be boarding her flight with the assurance that what she’s left behind will be built on for the future growth of netball in Jamaica. “I’m confident that the coaches will be able to continue the programme and develop it further without me,” she says with a river-wide smile. “They’ll be just fine.”

Follow the Sunshine Girls @NetballJamaica

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Monday, 20 July 2015

GLAM GIRLS ROCK: Sumfest ladies Denyque, Talia and Raine dish on success, confidence and owning their sexy

FEELING CHANGE: After enduring her share of heartbreak and painful invasion of privacy, nothing beats the thrill of personal growth and self-discovery for singer Raine Seville, who was a ravishing vision and a ball of energy on the Sumfest mainstage during the Pepsi Refresh Hour and later on in the press room, where she gave TALLAWAH the 411 on her amazing life today. “I’m very happy with it. I’ve grown so much vocally and confidence-wise. Before, I used to be afraid of performing, but now I love to perform and put on a show for the crowd. I think I’m a much more confident and creative person today,” says the 20-something songstress and mother, who is now signed to Headline Entertainment. Asked about the vibe in the Pepsi camp (alongside Kalado, Chi Ching Ching, ZaggaDenyque) Raine, pictured above with Ikaya, said it’s all love and family fun. So no catfights? “No catfights,” laughs Raine, who is currently promoting “Chat Mi,” a feisty collabo with Lisa Hyper. “We really enjoy doing the shows together and we do work well together. We take this opportunity to be ambassadors very seriously because we are representing Pepsi, which is a global brand.” 

BODY ELECTRIC: All-Jamaican cool girl Denyque may be considered eye candy by her countless male fans, but the singer is very clear on how she deals with that kind of “attention.” “I never intentionally set out to draw that kind of attention from my fans, but I think it’s great to be considered a symbol of female beauty and to appeal across the board,” says the chanteuse and brand ambassador whose renditions of “Ring the Alarm” and “Make Me Believe You” (among other tracks) on Saturday night earned raves from the massive crowd. To say the least, the hot mama has a superbusy summer ahead. In addition to doing promotional work for her new self-titled EP, she’s getting set to unveil the latest additions to her super-sexy swimwear line WetSwim. “On July 28, we’re releasing the Fire collection,” she tells TALLAWAH. “Very edgy, very feminine. The women will love it.” And, of course, the men will appreciate the visual delights. 

IN FULL BLOOM: Media darling and Miss Jamaica World contender Talia Soares is the first to admit that she wouldn’t be where she is today had it not been for Karlene, that very special woman in her life. “With a mother like mine, there is no way I could not be a high achiever. I wouldn’t be half as successful as I am without her guidance and wisdom. She pushes me and challenges me to be a productive young lady,” shares the 23-year-old stunner, who emceed the Pepsi Refresh Hour at Sumfest on Saturday night. Beauty and brains aside, the St. Andrew High grad has a lot going for her. Having completed her first degree at UWI Mona, she went and got her a law degree from the Norman Manley Law School and is now planning a future that will see her making a serious difference in the lives of Jamaicans while being an ambassador for her country. And if she cops the crown on August 15? “I’ll take a year off and invest the time in my country and do some of the things I’m really passionate about,” she tells TALLAWAH. As for that law degree, “I plan to practice media and entertainment law while still working in the media and entertainment fields.”

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THE REEL WORLD: TALLAWAH dishes news from the film world and the showbiz scene

THE KID: Get ready to start hearing the name Shameik Moore a lot because, according to Hollywood insiders, he’s one to watch. The star of the crowd-pleasing new comedy-drama Dope (about high school, growing pains and 90s hip-hop culture) has been garnering major buzz for his breakout performance, ever since the film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January. As a result, the 20-year-old Atlanta native, who has the defining facial features of African royalty, recently made the Hollywood Reporter’s round-up of the 12 major breakouts of 2015. Since then, he’s gone on to score recognition from other esteemed publications like Essence and Vanity Fair, who made a point of drawing attention to not only his involvement with the Cartoon Network’s sketch-comedy hit Incredible Crew but the more important fact that he’s moved up on major Tinseltown directors’ lists of young actors to work with. The best part? Moore is one of us. “My entire family is Jamaican,” the actor dishes to Vanity Fair (July 2015) of his clan in the ATL, comprised mainly of Jamrock immigrants. “At home it’s nothing but reggae music and those kinds of vibes.” Sounds good to us. [Watch the trailer for Dope here.] 

SCREEN GEM: When Destiny screened to loud cheers and applause at the Jamaica Film Festival inside the Courtleigh Auditorium in New Kingston on Thursday, July 9, a lot of us in the audience were seeing the feel-good movie for a second or third time. (It’s that appealing.) However, members of the Diaspora based in the UK will be getting their first chance to see what the buzz is all about when Destiny hosts its London premiere on July 31 in Leicester Square. In the meantime, other great things have been happening for the film. According to director Jeremy Whittaker, who lives in Toronto and is a former member of the TV-J family, work on the film’s soundtrack is complete, and it will be released via Tuff Gong International and Universal Music in September. 

AT FIRST BLUSH: Here at TALLAWAH we love a good “origin story,” especially when it revolves around people we can’t help but admire and respect. That certainly includes US Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama and his iron-willed First Lady Michelle, who are the subject of the upcoming film Southside with You. Slated for a 2016 release, the biography (which delivers servings of romance and drama) will enlighten audiences about the events that brought Barack and Michelle together all those years ago – before they became the political power duo the world can’t get enough of. According to online reports, the movie (currently in production) will share the story of that fateful summer in 1989, when they met (both in their 20s) while working the corporate law scene in Chicago’s Southside. While the role of Michelle was scooped up by the radiant Tika Sumpter (Sparkle, Tyler Perry’s The Haves and The Have-Nots), Barack is being portrayed by rising star Parker Sawyers, whose screen credits include the last X-Men movie and Kathryn Bigelow’s Osama bin Laden epic Zero Dark Thirty. Southside with You is being directed by Richard Tanne.

‘ANNIE’ REVISITED: Unsurprisingly, Hollywood is making good on its promise to bring the endlessly fascinating story of Annie Palmer, the White Witch of Rose Hall, to a global audience. A team, led by US-based financier Arthur Whylie, discussed the project at length during one of the workshops at the Jamaica Film Festival, making it clear that the film (with the working title of White Witch) is expected to be complete and ready for wide release by the summer of 2018. And when it comes to casting? Whylie says they will be turning over the lead role to a major Hollywood leading lady, an actress with the depth and range to bring a character like Annie to full-bodied life. Hmmm. Stay tuned. 

MUNAIR’S MOMENT: Special shout-out to veteran actor Munair Zacca, whose star was ablaze at the Jamaica Film Festival recently. Still, I don’t think a lot of people noticed that Munair (above, right) played memorable roles in two of the most well-received films at the festival – Destiny and Kingston Paradise – which, by coincidence it seems, were screened one right after the other on the Thursday night. Those who have first-hand knowledge of Munair’s remarkable acting skills consider him, and rightly so, an actor for all seasons.

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Saturday, 18 July 2015

LEARNING CURVE: PM Portia Simpson-Miller pays tribute to grads of Majesty Gardens education project

AWARD WORTHY: There is absolutely no doubt: the residents living in her South-West St. Andrew constituency are top priority for PM Portia Simpson-Miller, in spite of her mountain of national responsibilities. On Wednesday, July 8, the PM was on hand to congratulate the 77 Majesty Gardens residents who were being presented with certificates of participation and competence during the closing ceremony for the Majesty Gardens Education Development Project at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston. In her pep talk to the graduates (including young Christopher Miller, pictured above), PM Simpson-Miller commended them for "making the choice to improve their level of education" and urged them to "never stop improving themselves." The community development project was implemented through a partnership among the Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning, the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) and the Citizens Security and Justice Programme, and covered topics ranging from conflict management and career counselling to time and money management and stress management. 

"Everybody wants institutional accreditation, and we don't favour that. The government's policy is that we should be sparing with granting institutional accreditation but promote greater latitude in how the quality-assured programmes are delivered in Wait-a-Bit, Trelawny or St. Thomas, or elsewhere. This probably is presumptuous of me, but looking forward I see three accredited universities in Jamaica and three others related in various ways." Minister of Education Rev. Ronald Thwaites 

"Although it looks like we were seeing a different Asafa at the Trials, we've seen him with this kind of impressive form before. But he's finishing oh so well. There is obviously a change in attitude and a change in his mentality. What's left to see is how he performs when he comes up against tougher opposition later on in the season. Going into Beijing, I think he'll finish in the top three [in the 100 metres]. He stands more than a good chance of medalling." Filmmaker and sports journalist Donald Oliver 

"Education in Jamaica is beyond partisan scrapping. It is so important. We will have our differences of opinion, but I can be pleased that over the time that I have been minister, the relationship between the governing party and the opposition party in respect of education policy and practice has been a healthy one."  Thwaites

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