Sunday, 31 May 2009

ETANA: "I Am Not Stuck Up"


REGGAE’s reigning sweet songbird Etana knows a thing or two about keeping it real. No wonder she has been able to successfully navigate a career in the shark-infested music industry at a time when many are quitting out of frustration or falling prey to the dispiriting global economy. With equal doses of sweetness and sass, the 24-year-old hasn’t disappointed her loyalists since we first fell for her sugary soprano. Buoyed by the success of her debut album, The Strong One, the former group member just keeps on stepping, inspiring fans and copping multiple awards along the way. Now, she’s ready for more. As she is about to embark on the opening leg of her overseas summer tour, the soulful siren talks to TALLAWAH about joy and respect, life and legacy and what people always get wrong about her.


TALLAWAH: Congrats on the incredible success your music career has been experiencing. What did you make of the overwhelming response to your debut CD, The Strong One?

ETANA: It was just unbelievable. I never expected people all over the world to be so receptive. In Europe, in particular, one radio host said it was one of the best albums he’d heard in the last ten years. It’s a good thing, and to be nominated for the MOBO Award in Britain was also very shocking (Laughs). I’m grateful.

TALLAWAH: Recently, I watched the video for your uplifting single, Don’t Forget. What was the inspiration behind that song?

ETANA: To be truthful, Tarrus Riley called me one day and said he had an idea for a song about people staying true to who they are. We did the song in about one day. So that is basically what the song is talking about: people being true themselves no matter what.

TALLAWAH: On the subject of collaborations, you’ve teamed up with dancehall artiste Demarco for the new single, Can I. What was that like?

ETANA: It was great. Demarco is very cool and very funny but when time came to work, he got serious. We are both writers. He listens and I listen. It was just one of those working relationships that went well. I enjoyed it.

TALLAWAH: Only a handful of young artistes working in reggae today have matched the level of achievement you’ve attained since your debut single Wrong Address first entered the charts. Are you satisfied with the place your career has reached?

ETANA: I am grateful for all the support. Everywhere I go, across the world my songs are played on the radio, even some of the tracks I didn’t expect people to love as much. But I know I still have a long way to go. With the success of my first album, the expectations for the next one are great, so I have a lot of work to do.

TALLAWAH: Where are you right now in terms of putting stuff together for that next CD?

ETANA: We are actually looking at ideas right now for the album. We are planning to do some work with the producers who worked on the albums from Corinne Bailey Rae and Amy Winehouse. We also plan to work with some of our local young producers. We are not rushing. I want to give people time to get to know this first album before I release the next one. But hopefully, my second album will be out by the middle of next year.

TALLAWAH: Great! It’s good to have something to look forward to. You always deliver. Tell us, what have you realized are some of the biggest misconceptions folks have about you?

ETANA: I’ve traveled to places and people bring a bag of weed to me because they assume that I smoke. I do not smoke. I am not stuck-up either, and I wish people would understand that because I have heard such things about me. It’s the way I was raised. But when people really get to know me, they see the kind of person I really am. One thing I’m happy about is that I don’t have to fight for my stage time anymore. The level of respect has definitely grown.

TALLAWAH: It really is impossible to please everybody, but such is life. So what are you doing this summer?

ETANA: I will be on tour. I am leaving for LA this weekend and then I have to get ready for a tour of the US West Coast and Canada. Then later in the summer, I have a couple shows in Europe, which runs into September and October. So basically I have a full schedule until then.

TALLAWAH: What’s the philosophy that guides your life?

ETANA: No matter what I’m going through, I always say just ‘live and love life’.

TALLAWAH: Nice. What do you hope your legacy will be?

ETANA: My main goal is to be a positive light in the minds of the young ones. I believe there has to be a balance in the music, everywhere, across the world. So, for my part, if I could be a positive influence on how people live their lives, it would mean a lot. If I could that, it would be a great accomplishment for me.

THEATRE SNAPSHOT: 'Dream Merchant'

Dream Merchant
(Manna Entertainment)

Director: Carol Lawes

Cast: Ronald Goshop, Tesfa Edwards, Kedecia Stewart, Audrey Reid and Dorothy Cunningham

Venue: Centrestage Theatre, New Kingston

Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

CHASING dreams can be costly. One minute you’re on cloud nine, the next you are spiralling uncontrollably back to the hard ground. In Dream Merchant, characters learn this, among many other unforgettable lessons. With this well-acted play that also benefits from tastefully showy staging and a tight flow, playwright Adrian Nelson (Moon River) offers an admirable examination of ambition, pride and passion that will force viewers to look within for answers.

Shauna (Kedecia Stewart) and Ricky (Tesfa Edwards) are young unwedded lovers living a life of simplicity in St Elizabeth. Ricky is a down-on-his-luck farmer with a plot of land and a prayer but his lady love has grown tired of washing people’s clothes for a living. She has her heart set on the limelight that a career in the music biz would afford her. Never one to give up on her dreams, she heads to city Kingston on the advice of her nosy neighbour (Dorothy Cunningham), wins a talent contest and lands a recording contract. With the help of an influential bigwig (Ronald Goshop as Mr Biggs), fame and fortune soon follows but her relationship with her man back home takes a beating in the process. Before long, life as they know it changes for good.

DREAMERS: Ronald Goshop and Tesfa Edwards in Dream Merchant

Nelson crafts his characters with adequate skill and care, making them believably human instead of the thinly-sketched or over-the-top denizens we are regularly forced to meet in local theatre. Director Carol Lawes also makes a solid contribution, doing enough to elicit convincing performances, particularly from Audrey Reid, who appears as Mr Biggs’ no-nonsense wife who clashes with Shauna over her husband. Cunningham, Edwards, Goshop and Stewart all get equal opportunities to shine. In the case of Stewart, however, it would have been nice to get a more compelling sense of the growth of her character’s recording career, which forms a major plot point.

Nevertheless, Dream Merchant is an entertaining and emotionally-charged production, bolstered by a strong script, believable performances and a running time that is just right.

MUSIC REVIEW: Melody Gardot - My One And Only Thrill

TORCH SINGER: Melody Gardot sets souls afire

My One and Only Thrill (Verve Records)

Artiste: Melody Gardot

Tyrone’s Verdict: A+

SILKY, masterful, intimate, beautiful and haunting, Melody Gardot’s 2009 release, My One and Only Thrill, fulfils the promise of her unforgettable 2008 debut Worrisome Heart. Her confidence, however, overflows on this one. It’s musical sophistication for jazz and blues buff and those ready to convert (it’s never too late). And to think we were almost robbed of this gorgeous music (a vehicular accident almost killed Gardot a couple years back). Evidently, the horrific episode has only served to fuel her art, and listeners are more than pleased and grateful for the elegant results.

The album opens with the seductive “Baby I’m A Fool” and flows coherently, consistently highlighting Gardot’s rich, sultry vocals as they lovingly caress each word and smoothly ride each catchy melody. Throughout the CD, the 23-year-old Philadelphia native offers something captivating and diverse. Her songwriting is highly polished and skilful (check out “Your Heart Is Black As Night” or the witty “Lover Undercover”). You will marvel at her ability to articulate her most sensual thoughts into awe-inspiring lyrics.

From the opening track to the final cut, My One and Only Thrill evolves into something enticing and intoxicating. Like Katie Melua, you sense Gardot’s longing for warm romance and feel her passion and pain. Her tastefully erotic sensibilities add extra zing to her fresh and original lyrics, especially on cuts like the sublime title track and the magnificent “Our Love Is Easy”. Anyone who enjoyed Norah Jones’ debut Come Away With Me or Katie Melua’s Call Off The Search know what I’m talking about. The music is just as astonishing and soul-stirring.

Serene and gentle, My One and Only Thrill showcases a superb vocalist in her element, while giving nods to such legends as Billie Holliday and Madeleine Peyroux. Among the other standout tracks are the brisk “Les Etoiles” and the theatrically stellar “The Rain”. Gardot also offers a breezy treatment of “Over The Rainbow” that would make Miss Garland beam with pride and joy. Packing twelve amazing songs, My One and Only Thrill is pure musical sweetness; magical and heavenly. It’s an instant favourite of mine.

DOWLOAD: “Our Love Is Easy”, “The Rain”, “Lover Undercover” and “My One and Only Thrill”

SPOTTED: The 'Table Talk Food Awards'

COUPLE ALERT: Wayne Marshall (right) and Tami Chynn get cozy with friends Sara Lawarence and Kibwe Smith

IN THE KITCHEN: Chef of the Year nominee Brian Lumley offers demonstrations

DIPLOMATIC DIET: Spanish ambassador Jesus Silva hangs with a pal at the Food Awards

SESAME STUDS: Elmo and Ernie get their gangster lean on

FOODIE CHAT: Sandals heir Adam Stewart talks with the Jamaica News Network (JNN)

FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD: For the 11th year, the Table Talk Food Awards, put on by the Jamaica Observer, paid tribute to the movers and shakers of the multi-billion dollar food industry with awards honouring the top achievers in local food creation and d├ęcor in over 20 categories. Impeccably staged on the East Lawns of Devon House, special awards at this year’s event went to Grace Kitchens and Nancy McLean of the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.

SPOTTED: The 'Table Talk Food Awards'

FRUITY DELIGHTS: We couldn't resist this fruit 'bouquet'

PARTY GIRLS: Jaime Stewart-McConnell (centre) and her girlfriends chat it up

MIC CHECK: Winston Stona and Novia McDonald-Whyte perform hosting duties

JUICE TALK: Entrepreneur Garth Walker (left) pars with Adam Stewart and Zachary Harding

FOOD NOTES: Horticulturist Marigold Harding keeps busy with hubby Oswald by her side


DANCEHALL fire-starter Ce’Cile lords over the Table Talk Food Awards at Devon House last Thursday night in a soft-to the-touch little black dress that goes well with that hair (!), those classic juicy lips (vixen!) and those well-toned arms (hot!). And did we mention the dress isn't too curve-hugging or loose? The fit is just perfect. Yeah, this is one fierce vixen who knows how to bring the heat with her impeccable fashion sense. Whatever Ce’Cile is eating, we’ll have too.

'CALABASH' SIGHTINGS: More Festival Highlights

GOOD READ: Marlon James signs a copy of The Book of Night Women for Matthew at Calabash

SMILE AWHILE: Donna Duncan-Scott (left) hangs out with friend Natalie and daughter Naima

POTTY BREAK: The longest bathroom line in St Bess. Each year I watch it get longer.

THE THINKERS: Professors Barry Chevannes and Rupert Lewis deep in thought at Calabash

DOWN BY THE RIVER: Kids and adults palaver in the warm sunlight at Treasure Beach

'CALABASH' SIGHTINGS: More Festival Highlights

OH HAPPY DAY: Dr Carolyn Cooper (far right) and others getting in the groove

MEET AND GREET: Authors Joseph Boyden and Laura Fish chat with a book lover

PAST AND PRESENT: Former Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Seaga signs copies of his memoir.

GROUP CHAT: Douglas Orane holds the attention of a small group

IN TIME: Author and Time magazine essayist Pico Iyer poses for a quick pic after exiting the 'Chatterbox'

ALBUM SPOTLIGHT: 'The Very Best of Elephant Man'

FOR listeners who love and appreciate where Jamaican dancehall music is coming from and are intrigued by where it’s headed, Elephant Man’s new ‘greatest hits’ compilation is right up your alley. The consummate ‘Energy God’ blends modern dancehall sounds with hip hop, reggae and old-school ragga to create an exhilarating and non-stop party extravaganza.

Spanning his decade-long career as an entertainer, the album brings together 18 scorching tracks, serving up such long-time favourities as “Pon De River Pon De Bank”, “Signal De Plane” and “Shizzle My Nizzle” with more recent dance-floor bangers as “Gangsta Rock”, “Egyptian Dance” and “Nuh Linga”. Satisfactorily appealing, The Very Best of Elephant Man showcases the growth of one of dancehall’s most prolific contributors, with catchy tracks that ride their own distinctive grooves.

MOVIE ROUND-UP: 'Night at the Museum 2' AND 'Dance Flick'

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
(20th Century Fox)

Director: Shawn Levy

Cast: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Robin Williams and Amy Adams

Tyrone’s Verdict: C

NIGHT at the Museum 2 is just not poppin’. Ben Stiller’s wit and precise comedic timing are used to good effect but not much is going for the story or the execution for that matter. It’s neither fun nor exciting. This time the action is taking place at a new museum (Washington’s legendary Smithsonian), with Stiller’s Larry Davis joined by several characters from the original film (including Owen Wilson as Jedediah and Robin Williams as Teddy Roosevelt). But we are bombarded with too many new characters from history, ranging from Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams), Al Capone, Napoleon, Ivan The Terrible, Ahkmenrah and Attila The Hun, among others. At the same time, the overblown special effects push the film into manic territory. As such, it fares far worse than its predecessor. Lacklustre and uninspiring, Night at The Museum 2 is not a good look when considering a diversion to pass the time. For the kids, it’s all harmless fun but for adult viewers it’s an extravagant bore.

PARTY OVER HERE: Shoshana Bush, Christina Murphy and Damon Wayans Jr in Dance Flick

Dance Flick (Paramount Pictures)

Director: Damien Dante Wayans

Cast: Damon Wayans Jr, Essence Atkins, Shawn Wayans and Shoshana Bush

Tyrone’s Verdict: C+

THE Wayans respect nobody and nothing, and Dance Flick stays true to their shamelessness and irreverence. With the Scary Movie franchise, they offered comedic send-ups of horror movies, but with their latest cinematic offering they tackle a genre that is fast getting on everybody’s nerves: the dance movie. The result? A vulgar derision of dance cinema, sex and classism. No film is spared. With the plot of Save The Last Dance providing the skeleton, the writers flesh the film with spoofs of You Got Served, Step Up, Hairspray, High School Musical, Little Miss Sunshine… even Dreamgirls. Characters including inter-racial lovers Thomas (Damon Wayans Jr) and Megan (Shoshana Bush), Charity (Essence Atkins), Baby Daddy (Shawn Wayans) and Mr. Stache (Keenen Ivory Wayans) populate the patchwork of dance flick storylines. Dance crews clash, street thugs and wannabe gangsters get into it but what stands out most is the raw, uncensored humour that provides the film’s lifeblood. You don’t go to a Wayans’ movie expecting anything else. Good taste is nowhere in sight. In the end, it staggers along clumsily, remaining faithful to the Wayans brand of slapstick comedy overdosed with heavy servings of grossness and caricature.

MUSIC REVIEW: Elliott Yamin - Fight For Love

Fight For Love
(Hickory Records)

Artiste: Elliott Yamin

Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

ELLIOTT Yamin has turned a stint on American Idol into a bonafide recording career. With his new album, Fight For Love, the 30-year-old crooner offers a rock-solid set of pop and R&B tracks that highlight his throaty vocals, deft songwriting ability as well as the laudable contributions of such songwriters and producers as Johnta Austin, Jermaine Dupri, Stargate and JR Rotem, among others.

Fight For Love is a self-assured set that finds Yamin crooning in a strong tenor and capitalizing on the acclaim and commercial success of his marvelous 2007 self-titled debut which featured such hits as “Wait For You”. On Fight For Love, we get several more stunners as Yamin channels that soulful place on cuts like “Apart From Me”, “You Say” and other irresistible gems like the title track and “Know Better”. It is worth mentioning that Yamin’s Fight For Love bears striking similarities in sound and content to David Archuleta’s 2008 self-titled release. That’s a very good thing; Archuleta’s debut was one of the best releases of the past year. Yamin also possesses that vocal conviction that has distinguished the work of Clay Aiken and a few other noteworthy talents.

On Fight For Love, Yamin sings a lot, too, about longing for companionship and finding The One. You feel him. But what makes his music both likable and memorable is the heart and raw emotion he pours into the songs. You never get tired of hearing him, which is a relief, believe me. You will be enthralled by the opening track “Let Love Be”, a wonderful song to be savoured and played repeatedly, and other cuts like the beautifully written “You”, “This Step Alone” and “Someday”. With the sensitivity and consistency demonstrated throughout the album, the singer pulls you in.

Evidently, Yamin is making it clear that he has what it takes to join the ranks of the brilliant male singer-songwriters of our time while making his musical influences (Donnie, Stevie et al) proud. Heck, I’m sure ‘Idol’ voters are glad they supported him on Season 5 of the hit TV show, though he only copped a runner-up finish. He has not disappointed them since. Like his debut project, Fight For Love is laden with luscious grooves and powerful singing. A man who doesn’t shy away from opening up his heart to listeners, Yamin’s rise to stardom continues.

DOWNLOAD: “You Say”, “Fight For Love”, “Apart From Me” and “Let Love Be”

FEEDBACK: Responses From Readers

‘Dear Tyrone,

I really enjoy this website of yours. This is the second issue I've read and I think it's fantastic - both the range of what you cover and your particular 'take' on things. Well done!’

- Paul Issa, acclaimed actor

‘Very very very nice, Tyrone.”

- Scarlett Beharie, publicist

‘Hey Tyrone,

I have not had a chance to check this out online - your TALLAWAH invention, but from what I've read in your emails, I truly love the idea, and look forward to receiving the regular email-issues - and see you online in future. Good going.’

- Delores Gauntlett, award-winning poetess (The Water Tank Revisited)

‘Great stuff, you have a new reader....’

- Anonymous

Congrats on the blogspot, Tyrone. I should let you know all I'm up to here at NYU - if you're interested :)’

- Karl Williams, award-winning actor

‘Hey Tyrone,
I kept meaning to call and tell you congrats about TALLAWAH. It's a visual feast and really well-thought/laid out. Really cool stuff.’

- Sharon Leach, columnist and author (What You Can’t Tell Him)

You have done a wonderful job with this blog! Keep up the good work.’
- Carole Beckford, sport administrator

Sunday, 24 May 2009

CALABASH Report: 'Ring The Alarm', 'Pum Pum' and lots of stunning prose

THE SEA, THE SEA: A relaxing view of the Caribbean blue

THE Calabash International Literary Festival is known for real, powerful sentences and quick first impressions. And on the second day of the 2009 staging (a superb event taking place against the backdrop of a calm Caribbean Sea and a cheerful sky), there were more than enough talking points to keep the tongues of festival-goers occupied during the recession-resistant breaks at Treasure Beach:

Anthony Winkler perhaps left the most indelible impression on Calabash virgins (no pun intended) with a crass but amusing short story about a MoBay-based prostitute selling bogus merchandise (“greasy leg”) instead of the real thing (“pum pum”) to her loyal customers, who happen to be harmless lower-school boys from Cornwall College. Winkler’s wry and whimsical sense of humour scored big with the throng that packed the large white tent. Even before he launched into excerpts from his forthcoming autobiography (about the “pettiness of life in Montego Bay” in the 1950s), Winkler managed to establish a rapport with the cheery gawking crowd, capitalizing on the story’s sweet plot.

WRITERS UNITE: Anthony Winkler with Annie Paul of the UWI at Calabash

Staceyann Chin got things going promptly at 10:00 am Saturday morning, reading passages from her memoir The Other Side of Paradise. With typical fiery and energetic delivery, she transported listeners to Paradise in St James. We heard of her menstruation at age ten, sharing a roof with her stern aunt and her first encounter with the man who is supposed to be her father. Chin’s reading was a cool, eerie commentary on family dynamics, evolution and identity, and the text would provide great material for a coming-of-age film. Chin was followed by former Jamaican prime minister Edward Seaga, who shared excerpts from The Autobiography of Edward Seaga, expertly and eloquently mapping his journey from his birth in Boston in 1930 to joining the Jamaica Labour Party in the 1950s. Thankfully, Seaga’s reading shied away from anything scandal-courting. Winkler, Chin and Seaga were featured during ‘Three Jamaicas’.

WITH EDDIE: Edward Seaga and journalist Janet Silvera beam in the sun

There was no way around the shock for dozens of listeners in the audience when
Marlon James (Jamaica) read portions from his new book The Book of Night Women to close off a segment dubbed ‘Generation Now’, which also featured Laura Fish (UK) and Joseph Boyden (Canada). The provocative and expletive-laden tale of rebellious slave women on a Jamaican plantation stunned many into silence. Blending mystery and danger with sex, relationships and mischief, James’ book is a widely acclaimed follow-up to his debut John Crow’s Devil but his passages on Saturday left a bad taste for scores of persons who had brought their kids to the fest. James’ subsequent apology “to the children” in the audience at the end of his stint was met with a mix of laughter and applause.

Customarily, hosts
Kwame Dawes and Colin Channer tested out their comedy routines on the enthusiastic crowd. On Saturday afternoon their poetic and deliberately paced handling of Tenor Saw’s "Ring The Alarm" scored a home run. Folks were also receptive to the humour about Jamaican women in “belly skin” and a host of other Channer-esque observations. It is always a delight to see (and hear) the hardworking Founder/Artistic Director (Channer) and Programming Director (Dawes) of the nine-year-old festival serving up the jokes. Literature and amusement, after all, almost always go hand in hand. Calabash always delivers an authentic vibe, as also evidenced during the engaging ‘Chatterbox’ hour with the witty Paul Holdengraber (USA/Austria) and the brilliant Pico Iyer (UK/USA/Japan).

DOUBLE TROUBLE: Colin Channer (left) and Kwame Dawes bring the laughs

All day Saturday at Calabash I was hungry for fabulous narrative with artistic flourishes conveyed with stylishness and charm, especially after the festival’s earlier bombardment of menstrual blood, screams, guns and prostitution. During an evening segment called ‘Life Sentence’, fans of authors
Rachel Manley (Jamaica/Canada), Selwyn Cudjoe (Trinidad) and Patrick French (UK) got all the good stuff and more. As writers of great care and beauty, the trio captivated listeners with passages of stunning prose from their latest works. Manley, in particular, read movingly and captivatingly from Horses in Her Hair: A Granddaughter’s Story, which shares deeply personal info about the late artist Edna Manley. It is highly admirable how Manley (Drumblair, Slisptream) continues to chronicle, preserve and share the legacy of her legendary relatives -- a legacy that might otherwise crumble to dust in a dismal climate as ours.

LIKE FINE WINE: Veteran authors Rachel Manley and Patrick French sign copies of their books

According to Dawes, Friday’s opening night drew a record crowd of attendees all eager to hear from two of the biggest stars of the contemporary literary world:
Junot Diaz and Edwidge Danticat, who read from their acclaimed works during ‘Two The Hard Way (Part Uno)’. Already the stuff of legend is Tarrus Riley’s late-night performance, which, according to one young lady made her wish she was “his woman”. American actor/director/screenwriter Melvin Van Peebles also got favourable responses for his new film Confessions of a Ex-Doofus-Itchy-Footed Mutha while poets Velma Pollard, Esther Phillips and Millicent Graham inspired with their lush verses.

I noticed a switch-up in the schedule for Saturday evening:
Linton Kwesi Johnson (Jamaica/UK) and Helon Habila (Nigeria) join Peebles for the conversation session ‘Love In The Time of Obama’. Xu Xi (Hong Kong/USA), Terese Svoboda (USA) and Geoffrey Philp (Jamaica/USA) still appear for ‘Bi-Textuals’, followed by Channer and Mutabaruka for the throwback music party ‘CalaClash: The Full Hundred’. Apparently, George Lamming was unable to join the festivities this year.

Sunday’s schedule features a commemorative reading of E.R. Braithwaite’s
To Sir With Love (by Kerstin Whittaker, Alwyn Scott, Kingsley ‘Ragashanti’ Stewart and Justine Henzell) and poetry readings from Americans Marilyn Chin and Robert Pinsky. Musicians Wayne Armond, Seretse Small, Steve Golding and Ibo Cooper are expected to bring the festival to a thrilling conclusion with ‘One Step Ahead’ a showcase of the lyrics and genius of reggae legend Beres Hammond.

CHILL TIME: Mutabaruka and Kwame Dawes have a quick chat

Music Review: Ziggy Marley - Family Time

FAMILY LOVE: Ziggy Marley returns

Family Time (Tuff Gong Worldwide)
Artiste: Ziggy Marley

Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

“LIFT up your hearts with a smile, lift up your feet with a dance, lift up your spirits with a song. It’s family time,” offers Ziggy Marley on the appealing title track, the first proper track on his latest disc, Family Time. As the album opener, the song firmly establishes the mood, intention and groove of the project, which delivers a calming mix of reggae, vintage soul and Afro-pop.

The 13-track CD is a highly commendable outing from the veteran reggae artiste who last treated us to the Grammy-winning Love Is My Religion. Aimed at young listeners and families, each song on Family Time is executed with vim and the deepest dedication to interpretations of the music to deftly connect heart, mind, and soul. Marley is a father of young kids so he is coming from place that makes it easy for other parents to relate to his message of love, peace and universal harmony, at a time when the world is facing financial and social crises.

Marley delivers his message with ardent and joyful delivery. At the same time, it’s largely a collaborative project and he gets help from his young son Judah (“Family Time”), Rita and Cedella Marley (“I Love You Too”), Jack Johnson (“Cry, Cry, Cry”), Toots Hibbert (“Take Me To Jamaica”), Willie Nelson (“This Train”), Elizabeth Mitchell (“Wings Of An Eagle”) and Paul Simon (“Walk Tall”). Among the highlights is the charming “Future Man, Future Lady” (featuring Laurie Berkner) and “My Helping Hands” with actress Jamie Lee Curtis, who lends her voice to the eye-opening piece “Is There Really A Human Race?”

With exquisite production on most tracks from Don Was, Family Time offers a quick, breezy listen and speaks to matters of the heart and society. Really though, it’s Ziggy Marley’s calming tone that will win over listeners. Overall, it’s a fun record for kids and kids at heart.

DOWNLOAD: "Take Me To Jamaica", "Future Man, Future Lady", "Wings of an Eagle" and "Family Time"

CALABASH Report: Staceyann Chin still loves Jamaica

THE wild Afro puffs, light sleeveless top, skirt, sandals and a brisk reading were expected but many were pleasantly surprised by Chin’s heartfelt words at the end of her morning stint at Calabash on Saturday. By her own admission, the acclaimed lesbian spoken word artist has nothing but unending love for her homeland. “I love Jamaica, I belong here and I love coming back here,” she told the attentive listeners. “There are many others who want to come home. I long for the day when people will say, ‘She’s a lesbian, so what,’” she added to loud applause, before exiting the stage.

In her new memoir,
The Other Side of Paradise, Chin, 35, talks about her rough childhood in Jamaica, her sexuality, some depressing ordeals and later fleeing Jamaica to the US to live life on her terms. The book, published by Scribner, was not available at the bookshop at the Calabash festival to the dismay of many who were looking forward to picking up a copy or two. For me, it’s on to Plan B:

I tracked down Chin (pictured here with Professor Carolyn Cooper) during the lunch break and got her to share three of the books that changed her life:

GOOD BOOKS: A few of Chin's faves:

The God of Small Things (Random House) by Arundhati Roy
Wounds of Passion: A Writing Life (Holt Paperbacks) by bell hooks
Breath, Eyes, Memory (Vintage) by Edwidge Danticat

CALABASH Report: Edwidge Danticat inspired by festival

OVER seafood and drinks, I sat down with Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat, her companion, Fedo Boyer, and their adorable daughters Maila and Nira to hear about their visit to ‘Jamrock’. “This is my second time here. It’s really nice,” said Danticat. “It’s wonderful to be here among people out celebrating authors and musicians. It’s a wonderful thing.”
The first thing that strikes me about her is her voice; it’s soothing, angelic and pure. I don’t want her to stop talking.

“[Jamaica] is my neighbour both in Miami and Haiti, and to be here at Calabash is very inspiring. Not just for me because I’m sure other people living nearby in the Caribbean and in the US feel the same way.” The author of such widely-praised books as
Brother, I’m Dying, Breath, Eyes Memory (an Oprah Book Club selection) and The Dew Breaker, Danticat told TALLAWAH she is hard at work on her latest initiatives. Attending Calabash, she said, has nudged her creative juices into overdrive and she is eager to inject that fire into the new projects. “I’m actually working on two things at the moment: a non-fiction book and a novel. I don’t want to reveal the titles as yet. I don’t want to jinx myself,” she said, throwing her head back to let out a laugh.

GOOD BOOKS: Three of Edwidge Danticat’s most cherished reads:

One Hundred Years of Solitude (Harper Classics) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Beloved (Vintage) by Toni Morrison
The True History of Paradise (Random House) by Margaret Cezair-Thompson