Wednesday, 26 October 2016

GLORY DAYS: Iconic artefacts abound at the Peter Tosh Museum and the Miss Lou Archives

PHENOMENAL WOMAN: “There are over 100 boxes,” a young male librarian informs us, as we embark on a tour of the newly assembled Miss Lou Archives at the National Library of Jamaica. A fitting tribute to the late great Louise Bennett-Coverley, a cultural icon who gave us so much, including a renewed sense of pride in our native dialect, the collection is a treasure trove of all things Miss Lou, spanning never-before-seen photos, original folk song lyrics and poetry verses written by her own hand, to cite just a few of the artefacts you encounter. In the ‘50s, Miss Lou recorded a 12-track album of Jamaican folk songs for Folkways Records and that is included as well. We like the gorgeously shot pictures depicting a youthful Louise, all decked out in traditional Jamaican costume and staring back at us – with big smile and attitude – from a series of 70s and 80s images that still look fresh. Most intriguing of all: a copy of the marriage certificate that sealed the deal between her and the absolute love of her life, Mas Eric, when they wed at the St. Martin’s Church on May 13, 1954.

TRUE ORIGINAL: His world-famous M-16 guitar, eye-catching costumes and countless memorabilia spanning his short but stellar career are just some of the highlights at the recently launched Peter Tosh Museum, a long-in-the-making collaborative enterprise between the Peter Tosh Museum and the Kingsley Cooper-led Pulse Investments Limited, which has given the museum a home at its Trafalgar Road-based premises in New Kingston. For Tosh devotees like reggae historian Roger Steffens, the museum is a long-overdue piece of tangible recognition for the work of the Grammy-winning icon, rebel and avant-garde musician who was sadly cut down in his prime. “It’s a wonderful accomplishment,” Steffens says. “It’s really thrilling because for a long time, Peter was kind of an enemy of the state. The idea that [he] is now being given his due, with this wonderful museum, is something that, frankly, I never expected to see in Jamaica. It shows how things are evolving in Jamaica to a much better place.” PM Andrew Holness considers the museum a triumph with national significance. “I want to congratulate Kingsley and the Tosh family for doing this,” Holness says. “It may be your own persona; endeavour, but you have given something of immeasurable value to the country.”

GRIT & GRACE: A Tribe Ting artfully blends word-sound power and refined soul energy

WARRIOR SPIRIT: Members of the show's youthful, energetic cast.

“The Woman Speaks to the Man Who Has Employed Her Son” by poetess Lorna Goodison makes a surprising but much-welcomed appearance in A Tribe Ting, the latest theatrical offering from Tribe Sankofa that combines monologues, drama, dub poetry and word-sound-power energy to create a rich tapestry of artistic expression that provokes thought and rousingly entertains.

Conceived and directed by Fabian Thomas, the two-act show assembles a troupe of energetic young performers whose robust voices, emotional intelligence and pleasant singing chops keep the show afloat, even when the potency of the material occasionally dips below par.

In the end, the core of the show’s appeal rests in the fusion of stirring original pieces with classic selections from the oeuvre of Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, Sunni Patterson and Peter Tosh (among others) to explore themes and issues ranging from grave injustices and intimate relationships to identity and what it means to truly be free.

In one scene, the actors dramatically pay tribute to the #BlackLivesMatter campaign, recalling such unforgettable watershed moments as the call-to-action ‘I Can’t Breathe’, while honoring the memories of Trayvon Martin, Mario Deane, Khajeel Mais, and the list goes on.

But variety is the spice of life, so we are also introduced to lovers finding their way back to each other, conflicted souls longing to be understood, frolicking “vampires” plotting their next move and young girls discovering the power of inner beauty. Throughout, the black-clad, expressive performers commit to the characters, pulling you ever deeper into the performance.

As the show’s title reminds us, family is paramount and it’s a truth that A Tribe Ting consistently underscores. Overall, the nine-member cast delivers a spare, minimalist work, but it is imbued with enormous vigour, thanks in no small part to the refined soul energy that their bare feet seem to pull up from the ground. Tyrone’s Verdict: B

GOSPEL SPOTLIGHT: High-energy praise party brings curtains down on Kingston Jerk & Gospel Festival

HERE TO WORSHIP: The lively concert featured performances by Downswell (above), D-Murphy and 'Kiki' Sheard.

By the time we got to Hope Gardens at minutes after seven last Monday, D-Murphy was well into his set on-stage, warming up the crowd for the night’s main attractions who were waiting in the wings to be called on by Nadine Blair, an emcee whose vim, vigour and humour made the atmosphere all the more inviting. 

Such was the scene we encountered when we arrived to join the praise party in full swing at the Kingston Jerk & Gospel Festival, an increasingly popular event that has now firmly etched its place on the local gospel calendar. Monday’s renewal, falling on National Heroes’ Day, drew a fair-sized crowd, but the overall package had entertainment, empowerment and inspiration galore.

D-Murphy’s high-energy performance made way for the likes of the reflective Joseph Emmanuel (“Reggae Worship”; “Inna Di Morning”; “Wait”) and Chozenn, who switched up the tempo with songs like “Jesus Party”, “More” and “God Love You Innuh,” the catchy anthem that first got him noticed by gospel lovers.

As expected, the light-blue-clad Kevin Downswell ignited the venue the moment he landed centrestage to open with renditions of “Good News” and “He Saved Me/I Got Jesus,” during which he gave his backup vocalists some well-deserved shine.

“It’s Already Done”, “Nobody Loves Me The Way You Do” and “No Matter the Circumstances” followed, as did “Goodbye World,” which never fails to incite electric jumpin-wavin’ excitement. Things got prayerful again with “If It’s Not You” before the powerful strains of “Stronger” brought his set to a memorable close. 

Then it was time to hear from the night’s international headliner Kierra ‘Kiki’ Sheard, the second-generation songstress (daughter of Karen Clarke Sheard) whose short-but-spicy set combined inspiring testimony with powerful singing. Rocking a breezy white top, jeans and gorgeous shiny hair, Kierra had her attentive audience swaying to her songs like “You are My Desire” and “Indescribable”, which incited a lively sing-a-long.

In between songs, she shared wised-up food-for-thought nuggets like, “Don’t let your mountain intimidate you; tell your mountain about your God.” Her take on praise-and-worship standards like “There Is None Like You” sequed nicely into more motivational pep talk – and the song we’d been waiting for all night, “God in Me”, her Grammy-nominated smash with Mary Mary that has always affirmed for us the power of a good gospel song to excite and enlighten.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

CHAT ’BOUT: Women at the crease, free health care, and future US-Jamaica relations

“For Jamaica and for the world, it’s a matter of having somebody in charge of the US you can reason with and who will see different points of view and will even understand that the US has some obligation to Jamaica as a big neighbour to a small neighbor.” – Political commentator Kevin O’Brien Chang sizing up the Trump/Clinton US Presidential race and the possible long-term implications for Jamaica 

“Our current, poorly organized health care system will never be able to deliver quality health care. The continued misdiagnosis of “freeness” for “fairness” has caused both political parties to stay committed to free health care at the expense of reasonable, quality health care. As I noted before, some individuals will need free access, but nothing suggests that all individuals, including those who can afford health care, should equally receive free access.” – Former state minister Damion Crawford in a recent open letter to health minister Dr. Chris Tufton 

“The customer is faced with the constant change in the utility landscape and, in some ways, that is good. But there is so much more that the customer can get at their end of the spectrum, and it is our job to help facilitate that reality. Jamaica is hosting this conference at an important time for us. As utilities regulators, we have our hands full in dealing with a number of issues pertaining to industry players and their role in nation-building.” – OUR Director-General Albert Gordon on their upcoming annual conference, set for Oct. 26-28, at Secrets Resort & Spa in St. James, under the theme “Regulations – Creating a Spectrum of Opportunities in the Caribbean” 

“I definitely think our batting is one of the weakest points. If you look back at Trelawny, we fell down a few times down there, and even coming here [to Sabina Park], we batted first and just one time we got over 200 runs. So when you look at it, I think it’s kind of poor, seeing that you are playing at home. You actually want to dominate when you’re at home, and I don’t think we did that.” – West Indies women’s cricket captain Stafanie Taylor lamenting the uninspired performance that led to their loss to England earlier this week 

“I think Clinton will follow similar policies like Obama. From the point of view of reaching out, particularly to small island states like Jamaica, we stand a good chance of getting better trade relationships with Hilary Clinton. She’s a lot more diplomatic than her opponent. She knows how to handle foreign policy, and the way she deals with Europe is going to be very important for us, especially in terms of oil prices.” – PSOJ Chief Executive Officer Dennis Chung waxing optimistic that Clinton’s ascension to the White House will be better for Jamaica

ON THE SCENE: Highlights from Salute to Rio-lympians, National Honours ceremony – and a Jamaican in Paris

MEN OF 'DISTINCTION': Oct. 17, St. Andrew. Following Monday’s National Honours & Awards ceremony at King’s House, PM Andrew Holness made a point of greeting all the honorees but, of course, he had special commendation for Rexton ‘Shabba Ranks’ Gordon, who flew in from his base in the United States to receive the Order of Distinction (Officer Class) from Sir Patrick Allen. (Photo: Twitter)

BRIGHT SMILES: Oct. 15, Kingston. Olympic relay gold medallist and multiple brand ambassador Javon ‘The Transporter’ Francis flashes his pearly whites as he accepts an award from PM Holness and sports minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange during Saturday’s Salute to Rio Ambassadors inside the National Indoor Sports Centre. The event brought together Team Jamaica’s athletes who did us proud at the Olympics and Paralympics in Brazil in August. (Photo: Sleek)

ALL OF US: Oct. 13, Kingston. Former culture minister Lisa Hanna (centre) and writer-director Michael Holgate join the cast and crew of Garvey: The Musical for a round of photos onstage at the Philip Sherlock Centre, UWI. The University Players’ song-and-dance production combined experimental storytelling and roots-rock-reggae grooves in highlighting key moments in the life of the late Marcus Mosiah Garvey(Photo: Lisa Hanna)

PUTTING ON A SHOW: Oct. 11, Kingston. Ahead of the sizzling concert which brought a fair-sized crowd to Hope Gardens on Monday to see and hear Kierra ‘Kiki’ Sheard and Kevin Downswell, the annual Kingston Jerk & Gospel Festival got a high-energy launch at the Audi showroom, where emcee Debbie Bissoon and event organizer/co-headliner Chozenn informed attendees of what to expect this year. (Photo: Infuzion.Inc)

MODEL BEHAVIOUR: Oct. 2, France. Reminding us of Charlize Theron’s sensational Dior campaign a few years back, Saint International bombshell Tami Williams strikes a pose at the Gold Obsession Party and L’Oreal Paris photocall, which formed part of the Paris Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2017 collections. The leggy Jamaican star remains one of the most sought-after Black models on the planet who’s graced all the major runways and fashion glossies.(Photo:

SOCIETY, SOCIETY: Marigold Harding’s busy new life; how the stock exchange grows…

If you thought Marigold Harding retired as Custos of St. Andrew to walk off into the golden sunset with hubby, Ossie, think again! The lay magistrate and horticulture maven is actually busier than ever and fully enjoys having a full plate. “It is certainly not a honeymoon period. I’ve just transferred my energy from one area to the next,” she tells us, looking effortlessly regal as ever at King’s House on Monday. “Right now I’m working with the Down’s Syndrome Foundation and the Autism Foundation. I’m Vice-Chair of the National Parenting Committee. I’m on the board of the National Gallery and I serve on the Devon House committee.” And her international work in the field of horticulture continues to bring a smile to her face. “That’s a permanent part of my life,” she says. “[Horticulture] is my passion, so I’m always on that.”

Having topped Bloomberg’s 2015 list as the best performing stock exchange in the world, how are things at the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) these days? “The market has been quite good. There are a lot more companies coming to market, a lot of new products have been introduced, and many more young people are now interested in the market. So the market is growing,” the charming Marlene Street-Forrest told us, moments after being presented with the Order of Distinction (Commander Class) for outstanding leadership in the growth of the JSE. Can Jamaica top the Bloomberg list for a second straight year? Auntie Marlene laughs. “It’s difficult to replicate that kind of success two years in a row,” she admits, “but [the market] is on a trajectory to do very well in the future.” 

According to Dr. Denise Eldermire-Shearer, the Order of Jamaica insignia she received on Monday for her distinguished advocacy for senior citizens in the fields of health and welfare was not just for her but for all the collaborators who make the work possible. “It’s a tremendous honour, but it’s for a lot of people’s work, and I’m humbled to receive it on their behalf,” she told TALLAWAH. So what’s next? “We will continue the work and the research,” she says. “The research is critical.”

Among the women, Mrs. Harding (a vision in eye-popping blue) and OD recipient Lilieth Nelson (who brought rays of sunshine in vivid yellows) were in their head-turning element. But on the men’s side, those who side with Sir Patrick Allen (above) and those impeccably attired guards of honour will get no argument from us.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

CULTURE VULTURE: J’ca Food & Drink Fest returns + Fraser-Pryce recounts her ‘Journey’ + Bob Dylan awarded Nobel Lit Prize

LYRICAL GENIUS: The Nobel Prize for Literature hasn’t been awarded to an American since Toni Morrison (Beloved, The Bluest Eye) took home the world’s highest literary honour in 1993. But the 2016 winner isn’t just any American scribe. The prize has been awarded to “the other Bob”, rock musician and poet Bob Dylan for “having created new poetic expressions with the great American song tradition.” The 75-year-old Dylan, dubbed the most iconic poet-musician of his generation, is known for songs such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are A-Changin,” which became anthems of the US anti-war and civil rights movements of the 1960s. Dylan, who won a Best Original Song Oscar in 1971 for “Things Have Changed” has impacted everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Ed Sheeran with his towering influence. News of his Nobel Prize achievement inspired a wave of strong reactions within literary circles and elsewhere. Salman Rushdie (Midnight’s Children) welcomed the news as a “great choice”, hailing Dylan as “the brilliant inheritor of the bardic tradition.”

BON APETIT! The island’s rich culinary tradition got a jolt of flavour last year with the arrival of the Jamaica Food & Drink Festival, which returns to tantalize taste buds across the capital from Oct. 26-30, ahead of next month’s renewal of Kingston Restaurant Week. The festival’s can’t-miss feast of activities (“Drink-Nyam-Jam”) include Pork-a-Palooza (Oct. 26) at the Hope Botanical Gardens; Crisp (Oct. 27) at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel; Vintage (Oct. 27) at Address PrivĂ©; Stix & Stones (Oct. 28) at The Ruins, Mona Visitors’ Lodge; Meat Street (Oct. 28 and 29) at Barbican Beach; PicantĂ© (Oct. 29) at Kingston Polo Club and Brunch at the Gallery (Oct. 30) at the National Gallery of Jamaica. To get more info on the 2016 staging of this foodie fest, log on to

CHAPTERS OF HER STORY: Usain Bolt has already published two bestsellers (9.58: My Story and Faster than Lightning) and Chris Gayle recently launched his first literary release, Six Machine, so it was only a matter of time before the world’s fastest woman followed suit and made her literary debut. Yes, Shelly-Ann ‘Pocket Rocket’ Fraser-Pryce is gearing up to release Pryceless Journey, a memoir that chronicles the struggles and triumphs that accompanied her meteoric rise in the ubercompetitive world of track-and-field, some of the valuable life lessons she’s learned along the way, and her advice for the up-and-comers following in her footsteps. Due to be published before year-end, Pryceless Journey emerged out of a series of sit-down interviews the sprint queen gave to author and Profile host Ian Boyne. It will be released by Pelican Publishers. Says Fraser-Pryce, “I want people to read this book and be inspired by the personal determination that led to my Olympic success and realize that you can accomplish your goals, no matter where you’re from.”