Tuesday, 19 February 2019

ROAD WARRIORS: Thomas, Mondon emerge winners of Sagicor/Sigma Run; $52.5M raised for charities

GREAT DAY: Sagicor's Mark Chisholm and Chorvelle Johnson, representatives of this year's beneficiaries, and ambassadors Yohan Blake and Stacey McKenzie show off the symbolic cheque.

HENRY Thomas did it again. Two weeks after besting a field of over 1200 runners to win the Heart Foundation/Crystal Spring ‘Run for Your Heart’ 5K, the superfit 24-year-old athlete gave a repeat of his stamina-rich performance to win the 2019 Sagicor/Sigma Corporate Run in New Kingston on Sunday morning.

Thomas, a member of the UCT Steppers, won in a time of 17 minutes and 39 seconds. Perennial contender Kemar Leslie (Rainforest Seafoods) was second, while 22-year-old JC old boy Kosiani Dunkley (Tax Administration of Jamaica) placed third. On the women’s side, French-Jamaican runner Elizabeth Mondon was fastest, finishing in 21 minutes and 28 seconds. Second-place was secured by Kelly-Ann Beckford while Jozanne Harris claimed third.

On a brilliant morning at the Emancipation Park, as hundreds of athletes flocked to the various booths for refreshments, Sagicor announced that they had surpassed their 2019 fundraising target, raking in an impressive $52.5 million to benefit their chosen charities: the May Pen Hospital’s Neo-Natal Unit, the Lupus Foundation and the Diabetes Association of Jamaica. 

Meanwhile, awards were also presented to the top participants in the Walk category. On the Men’s side, Duell Allen of Shizzle Fit took top honours, ahead of Gladstone Miller (2nd) and Lenworth Hunter (3rd). Best among the women were: Anna-Kay Swaby (1st), Olivia McKoy (2nd) and Paula Sinclair (3rd). 

The event also drew appearances by sprint superstar Yohan Blake and former top model Stacey McKenzie, this year’s Sagicor ambassadors. Stirring performances came from gospel ministers Rondell Positive and Rhoda Isabella. Jennifer ‘Jenny Jenny’ Small was in her usual ‘Energizer Bunny’ element as the day’s emcee.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

CULTURE VULTURE: VIP/Grandstand tickets for Buju concert sold out + Fifty Shades author back for more + Proceeds from Cargo premiere to benefit Haiti

BOOKS: Calling all Fifty Shades loyalists! Are your ready for more from author E.L. James? Her publisher, Vintage Books, has announced that James has a new book coming out on April 16. It’s called The Mister and, true to James’ oeuvre, it’s “an erotic love story” (set in London), but Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele do not appear in this one. Instead, you are introduced to Maxim (an aristocratic young Englishman) and Alessia (a girl with a past). “It’s a Cinderella story for the 21st century,” says James, whose Fifty Shades books has sold more than 100 million copies. “I hope my readers will be swept away by their thrilling and sensual tale.”

FILM: Funds from the recent Caribbean premiere of the buzzworthy film Cargo (about human trafficking and Haitian immigrants in the Bahamas fleeing to Miami) will be donated to Hollywood Unites for Haiti, a non-profit founded by Jimmy Jean-Louis, one of the film’s stars, to benefit underprivileged youth in the poverty-stricken island territory. According to Jean-Louis, it is imperative that the Caribbean produces more of these projects shining the spotlight on critical social issues affecting our people. “I just feel like the film industry really needs to be worked on,” he says. “I feel like the Caribbean has so much potential. If we come together we can achieve great things. We won’t have to wait to get movies from America; they could get movies from us, too.”

MUSIC: They’re going fast! VIP and grandstand tickets for Buju Banton’s highly anticipated National Stadium concert on March 16 are already sold out. Still available are General tickets ($12, 500) and Bleachers tickets ($4000). The upcoming concert will mark the kick-off for The Long Walk to Freedom Tour, being presented by Gargamel Music, Supreme Ventures and Boom Energy Drink. Gates open 4pm. Showtime 8pm. Tickets are on sale at select Digicel stores and via bujubanton.com. Information hotline: 876-247-BUJU or 876-LUV-BUJU.

TALKING FASHION: Gabrielle Clarke brings quality and ‘unusual’ Afro style to Quaint by GSC

COLOUR POWER: Bold prints, bold patterns. The customers love them,” says Clarke (at top), sporting the Rock-Me-Baby afrokini.

FASHION designer Gabrielle S. Clarke credits much of her success to her grandmother’s influence. “She raised me in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church for a few years, and I’d say it was a really life-changing experience,” she dishes to TALLAWAH

So much so that she got introduced to some Afro-Caribbean traditions and customs that instilled in her a deep appreciation for all things that hail from the Motherland. Fashion included. Clarke quickly fell in love with African fashion and has decided to make a career out of it. Why not? A trip to the Ping’s fabric store, where she was wowed by the gorgeous prints and bold, vivid colours sealed the deal. “The fabrics spoke to me,” she recalls.

By 2015, she was fully immersed, drawing on all her seamstress lessons to create sartorial works of art. Introducing Quaint by GSC, branded as an afrowear line using kente and other eye-catching patterns to create impressive, wearable garments.

Clarke’s growing clientele thinks so too. “The response has been great, a bit overwhelming at times. I’ve had a lot of overseas customers – buyers from France, Belgium, Italy, New York, Florida, who order on the website (quaintbygsc.com),” says the 23-year-old designer, who has now widened her creative output (from clothing – skirts and tops and beachwear) to include purses and bags and other chic accessories.

What’s her aesthetic? “As my slogan says, I love to create unusual pieces. Anything that’s unusually interesting, I’ll go for it. Bold prints, bold patterns. The customers love them,” she explains, standing by her booth at the Bob Marley Museum, on the occasion of Marley’s 74th anniversary birthday celebrations.

After graduating from Alpha Academy, Clarke went on to UWI Mona but only completed two years of study before dropping out due to financial constraints. The setback, she says now, has been a blessing in disguise, affording her that push to start her own business and build her brand.

Looking ahead, the Kingston native is taking Quaint by GSC to the world. “I want to have stores in Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, and hopefully Florida and California,” she says. “I pretty much want to establish the brand so that everybody can have access to the pieces.”

Her advice for other up-and-coming designers is simple: Plan and execute. “Believe in yourself. Love what you do. Have a good plan and put in the work,” she says. “And if you’re really passionate about it, just do it.”

>> Keep up with Clarke on Instagram @quaintafrowear!

THE TIES THAT BIND: Tough love and painful truths make a brutal mix in Maas Mat Comes to Town

UNFINISHED LIVES: Lowe, Brown and HoShing in scenes from the play.

Maas Mat Comes To Town (Basil Dawkins Productions)
Director: E. Wayne McDonald
Cast: Earle Brown, Ruth HoShing and Maylynne Lowe
Venue: Little Little Theatre, Kingston

“YOUR sins catch up with you, that’s why yuh ah suffer so.” Is that the kind of thing a young lady should be saying to her mother? Not in the civilized world, but Deslin (Maylynne Lowe) is beyond frustrated.

Trapped at home with her bothersome, Alzheimer’s-stricken mother, Dotsy (Ruth HoShing), her life has become a living hell. You feel her pain. Dotsy is a handful and plays mean tricks on her daughter, like emptying her full bottle of rum into a flower pot.

Unsurprisingly, they seem headed for a violent clash, as action heats up in Maas Mat Comes to Town, playwright Basil Dawkins’ latest offering, which picks up where last season’s production, Pressure Drop, left off.

Deslin’s husband, Luke (Canute Fagan), is no longer around, leaving her, penniless, to care for her sick mother all by herself. Their time together exposes the massive cracks in their mother-daughter relationship, and sometimes you are left shaking your head as their verbal clashes intensify. 

Thankfully for Deslin, her father-in-law and Luke’s old man, Mat (Earle Brown) is on his way to the house to ease some of the burden. But, interestingly, Maas Mat’s arrival only serves to complicate an already tense situation. Can’t we all just get along?

What Dawkins underscores with this family narrative (engrossing, but it occasionally loses its verve) is that family life can get very messy, and it takes real patience and commitment to overcome the hurdles. For some folks, living with certain relatives feels like a prison sentence, and that’s precisely how Deslin feels. Sad but true.

Lowe’s performance cuts like glass, as she delves into the role, evoking not only Deslin’s frustrations but her deep-seated fears and her vices. Did she make an epic mistake in marrying Luke?

HoShing’s feisty Dotsy is still a hot ball of manic energy, and as Maas Mat, Brown digs deep, mustering up the stamina to keep up.

Coming off a stellar remount of Uptown Bangarang, Dawkins and director E. Wayne McDonald reap solid results with their latest collaboration. Minor flaws aside, Maas Mat Comes to Town is a solid, well-acted play that really gets to you, as it takes a hard and unflinching look at family dynamics, love and hate, and life and death in all their guises. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

Saturday, 9 February 2019

SOCIETY, SOCIETY: ‘S’ Hotel gets a star-studded grand opening on MoBay’s hip strip

SPECIAL OCCASION: A who's who of government officials and distinguished Jamaicans were in attendance.

THOSE in the know say smart and savvy businessman Christopher Issa initially wanted to rebrand the hotel as Spanish Court Montego Bay but later opted for the more “concise and discrete” and singular name ‘S’. 

We love it. The swanky west-coast property, following a renovation process, got a star-studded reopening on January 27, with a guest list topped by Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen and Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who made the official pronouncement. 

Mayor Montego Bay, Homer Davis; Tourism minister Edmund Bartlett, Lisa Hanna, former prime minister Portia Simpson-Miller  and National Security Minister Dr. Horace Chang were also in attendance. 

The 120-room waterfront hotel did business under the Breezes umbrella before closing its doors in 2009 and being sold in 2011. It has now re-entered the market, welcoming locals and foreigners alike, perched beachside on Montego Bay’s famed ‘Hip Strip’ on Gloucester Avenue.

2018 TALLAWAH MUSIC AWARDS: The Complete List of Winners

* Autumn Leaves  Damian Marley --WINNER
A Better Tomorrow – Jahmiel 
Family – Popcaan 
Glory to God – Wayne Marshall feat. Tessanne Chin and Ryan Mark 
No Guarantee – Protoje feat. Chronixx 

Banks of the Hope – Agent Sasco 
Family – Popcaan 
* Glory to God – Wayne Marshall feat. Tessanne Chin and Ryan Mark --WINNER
No Guarantee – Protoje feat. Chronixx 
Stay So – Busy Signal 

* 44/876 – Shaggy & Sting --WINNER
A Matter of Time – Protoje 
Hope River – Agent Sasco 
Love Sick – Romain Virgo 
Reggae Forever – Etana 

Lila Ike 
Rygin King 
* Sevana --WINNER
ShaundrĂ© Cowan 

* Autumn Leaves – Damian Marley --WINNER
A Better Tomorrow – Jahmiel 
Banks of the Hope – Agent Sasco 
In This Together – Romain Virgo 
Winning Right Now – Agent Sasco 

Bawl Out – Dovey Magnum 
Diamond Body – Mavado feat. Stefflon Don 
* Family - Popcaan --WINNER
One and Move – Govana 
Stay So – Busy Signal 

* Glory to God – Wayne Marshall feat. Tessanne Chin and Ryan Mark --WINNER
I Feel Like Running – Kevin Downswell 
Pray For You – Marion Hall feat. Carlene Davis 
Worship: The Victory Edition – ShaundrĂ© Cowan 
Worshipper’s Heart – Daynea Deacon Jones 

Appleton Signature Night series 
Fun In The Son 
Realignment Concert Tour 
Rebel Salute 
* Reggae Sumfest --WINNER

DJ Frass 
Markus Myrie 
Niko Browne 
* Rvssian --WINNER
Winta James 

Guess Who – Tarrus Riley feat. Mykal Rose 
Hard Drive – Shenseea feat. Konshens and Rvssian 
Kontraband – Kabaka Pyramid feat. Damian Marley 
Mama Prayed – Agent Sasco feat. Glacia Robinson 
* No Guarantee – Protoje feat. Chronixx --WINNER

* Etana --WINNER
Jah 9 
Lila Ike 
Queen Ifrica 

* Agent Sasco --WINNER
Damian Marley 
Romain Virgo 

Dovey Magnum 
* Spice --WINNER
Vanessa Bling 

* Popcaan --WINNER
Rygin King 

Gem Myers 
Jason Worton 
Monty Alexander 
* Nickeishia Barnes --WINNER
Seretse Small 


Thursday, 7 February 2019

WORTHY CAUSE: ‘Run for Your Heart 5K’ attracts its largest turnout

STRONG FINISH: Male 5K winner Henry Thomas (centre) and his runners-up (Kemar Leslie and David Pusey) share a candid shot with event sponsors.

FOR Romario Samuels, brand manager of Crystal Spring, the biggest reward that has come with their debut as title sponsors of the Run for Your Heart 5K is the nearly 50 percent increase in the number of persons participating. 

“We had over 1,200 persons registering and coming out to do the run and the walk, and that’s about a 45 percent increase in the numbers,” he tells TALLAWAH inside New Kingston’s Emancipation Park on Sunday morning, as the day’s activities slipped into high gear.

Now in its third year, the 5K Run/Walk, the brainchild and major fundraiser of the Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ), has always received sponsorship support from the spring water company, but 2019 marks their very first outing as title sponsors. And according to Samuels, the extra effort put into the planning and preparation, coupled with financial investment, has paid off.

“We said we would try to do more with advertising and marketing and social media, and in so doing we managed to garner the interest of more persons,” he reports. It’s a successful partnership with the HFJ that he feels can get even better. “For successive events,” Samuels notes, “we hope it grows.”

In addition to Crystal Spring, this year’s raft of sponsors include (among others) Purity, Foska Oats, Sun City Radio and Mountain Peak, all of whom set up booths inside the park, attracting scores of fitness enthusiasts.

>> The Results Are In: Winners of the 2019 Run for Your Heart 5K events
1. 5K Run – Male: Henry Thomas – UCD Steppers (Runners-up: Kemar Leslie – Rainforest Seafoods and David Pusey – Carimed) 
2. 5K Run – Female: Jozivanne Deer – PUMA (Runners-up: Michelle Riley – PUMA and Jozanne Harris – JamDammers)
3. 2K Run – Male: Odaine Davidson
4. 2K Run – Female: Gabriel Wellington
5. Largest Team: Ministry of Health
6. Youth Award (Under 17): Caleb Dixon and Malia Ruperell
7. Champion Team: Digicel
8. 5K Walk – Male: Duel Allen – Shizzle Fit (Runners-up: Lenworth Hunter – Independent and Oshea Morgan – Shizzle Fit
9. 5K Walk – Female: Annakay Swaby – Shizzle Fit (Runners-up: Paula Sinclair – UCD Steppers and Patricia Grant – NCU FM