Monday, 28 November 2011

A GIRL NAMED CHERINE: The rebel songbird is having it her way in life and love

FAN FAVOURITE: “Everything is unfolding in a beautiful way.”

From the moment Cherine dashed onto the scene with 2006's sexy lovers’ anthem “Good Love,” she gave Jamaica a little jolt. And we’ve watched, transfixed, as the petite girly-girl with the big voice single-handedly fashioned a bold and unique sound with dancehall-soul, as she charted a course to the big leagues with her stash of hits, mesmerizing stage craft and impeccable fashion sense. But the life of a real artist only grows more complex and multi-layered with time. In Cherine’s case, we have witnessed a wonderful metamorphosis from fledgling dreamer to international solo star to her present incarnation as a spitfire Rockfort rebel.

And did I mention that the past year has been, arguably, the most fascinatingly productive of her still-blooming career as a recording artist and altruist? “People got to see all the different sides to Cherine this year, so it wasn’t all music,” she tells me, following a memorably acoustic set at the recent Manifesto JA Festival, on the grounds of the Edna Manley College. Stylishly attired, she seems to glow in the dark. “This year, I got to really dig deep in exploring my passions – and not just in my performances, but also in service.”

Playing her part as an upstanding member of society has always been something Cherine holds dear. This year alone, she lent her star power as spokesperson to a pair of worthy causes: the Yoplait-sponsored Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign (in October) and a new gender equality initiative conceived under the auspices of the United Nations, with which she’ll work closely until 2013. Then there’s the local-based Reach One Foundation, a mentorship outfit through which she sponsors kids on their way back to school.

If you ask Cherine about it, she’ll confide that charity and volunteerism allow her to contribute to saving the lives of women and children, while tapping into her family roots. “I’m from a family where the women made the decisions. It’s not that the men didn’t participate but the women were very strong,” says the Rockfort native. “My mother was extremely strong, and her mother, who raised 13 children, was also very strong. So things like determination and spirituality were very important.”

Those are two qualities that have served her well. In an industry often criticized for its dearth of opportunities for female musicians, Cherine, who has worked with everyone from Sly & Robbie to John Mayer, continues to thrive to the point where she now stands as one of the most important musical voices of the current Caribbean generation. As if to provide auxiliary evidence, her 2011 mixtape JA 9.25 (download yours here) continues to spawn hit after hit. A brand-new video for “How We Living” will premiere nationwide before year-end and will be followed by a trio of other single visuals. “It has taken on a life of its own that we never expected,” Cherine says of the mixtape. “We mainly wanted it to be a teaser for the upcoming album. But I think that once people get the album [it arrives next year], they’ll understand why the mixtape was out.”

Cherine, who buzzes with an infectious energy when she speaks, is terribly excited about 2012. For one thing, her impending body of work will let audiences, longtime fans and prospective converts experience a whole new measure of her brilliance, drive and determination. “In 2012, I’m hoping for a lot more opportunities to perform, not just locally but also abroad, with the band [the Rockfort Rebels],” she reveals. “One of my biggest concerns this year was putting together the band. We have about two more slots left to fill but I know that everything will eventually fall into place.”

If there’s one unexplored aspect of life that Cherine is willing to let play out on its own time it’s starting a family. Consumed as she is with her hot career and new heights to conquer, the happily single singer tells TALLAWAH she is a patient woman when it comes to the game of love. “I think when I find the right man, and we decide to have a baby, that’s what we’ll do,” she says of motherhood. “The pressure and expectations that come with it is something I’m scared of right now,” she adds, laughing her adorable little laugh. As the 27-year-old rightly explains, you can’t – and shouldn’t – hurry love. “I guess you will know when it’s right. It’s just like how you can’t tell a man when to marry you. He will know when it’s the right time,” she says. “It’s [also] like music; everything is a progression, and when you get to that point where you feel to do it, you do it. So when I get to that point, the whole issue of motherhood won’t even be a question.”

For now, Cherine, full of charm and ever bursting with garrulous fervour, is quite content in her rewarding relationship with a fellow named Music. By all appearances, he’s a keeper in her lyrical book. “I’m just excited about the body of work that’s going to come out next. I’m excited about working and touring with the band. I’m a workaholic, so we are always trying new things,” she shares. “Everything is unfolding in a really beautiful way, and I’m just really grateful that I get to do it.”

NEXT TIME: Cherine riffs on staying focused and preparing for her next chapter

(Cover photography: Jasmin Kuhn)

EAT, PREY, LOVE: Miss Kitty gets daring, sexy with Good Girl Gone Bad

OOH, 'GIRL': Miss Kitty turns up the heat.

The words passion, wants, and needs take on bold new meanings in Good Girl Gone Bad, the steamy and pageturning fiction debut from Khadine ‘Miss Kitty’ Hylton. The story, laced with alternate doses of intensity, heat and humour follows Shelley and Kevin, a rather interesting pair of lovers who come upon a barrage of hurdles while trying to navigate daily misunderstandings in the pursuit of the fulfillment of their dreams.

Like many of the budding new authors out there, Miss Kitty knows how to show care and concern in crafting characters. And she does so commendably in a novel that’s largely a detailed and fascinating look at intimacy, infidelity and the many shades of love that so often work their way into relationships.

Still, Miss Kitty is no Terry McMillan, but as it stands Good Girl Gone Bad is a praiseworthy first effort and makes a compelling case for its writer’s clarity and insightfulness and sheer sensitivity when it comes to matters of the heart. If there’s one thing the radio host, effervescent emcee and talent show judge has proven over time it’s that she knows people and what they’re capable of. Juicy and daringly sexy, Good Girl Gone Bad is another bold sample of her tell-it-like-it-is view of the world. Tyrone’s Verdict: B

“He was salivating, and in seconds was feasting on her like a delicacy. Every stroke of his tongue felt better than the one before, and Shelley was open, wide open, so much that she sounded delusional, saying one thing but meaning something completely different.”

PITCH PERFECT: Accept C-Sharp’s jazzy, groove-laden ‘Invitation’

FIVE FOR THE ROAD: C-Sharp proves engaging on new album.

Wholesome, hypnotic music always finds its place, so no one is surprised at the still-expanding success of reggae-jazz-pop band C-Sharp, whose members have chosen to celebrate their tenth anniversary with a long-overdue gift for their faithful followers: a new full-length studio album. The unmistakable lyrical appeal of The Invitation matches only the free-spirited effortlessness that the band, led by vocally gifted lead singer Chevaughn Clayton, brings to the largely original material.

At 13 tracks, The Invitation serves as a splendid showcase for the talents of the band’s entire membership, which includes bassist Aeion “Yaaka” Hoilett, drummer Randevon “Randy” Patrick, keyboardist Dwain “Wyaa” Campbell and guitarist Lamont “Monty” Savory. Highlights include the refreshing opening cut “Family Man”; the Busy Signal-assisted title track, and the endlessly hopeful “Better Day Coming,” which features iconic reggae stars Third World.

As a bonus, listeners are sure to cherish the respectfully reggaefied cover of John Legend’s “Get Lifted,” where Clayton’s talent truly captivate, and the plaintive brawta track “No More,” which is perfect for afternoon radio. Overall, the album displays exemplary work while setting C-Sharp on a path toward another fruitful decade. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

UP RISING: Quilt mixes a spirit of revolution with youthful passion

FEEL THE HEAT: Quilt performers at the UWI Mona.

This year’s Tallawah drama festival, traditionally hosted by UWI’s Philip Sherlock Centre, was full of spectacle, zeal and raw intensity. That could also be an apt description of the Quilt Performing Arts Company, which emerged as the darling of the festival with its outstanding mini-production 73…?, a wholly engrossing fusion of poetry, theatre and music that provided a haunting meditation on the deadly May 2010 military invasion that all but destroyed the political stronghold of West Kingston’s Tivoli Gardens, while claiming more than 70 lives.

For the stand-up-and-cheer effort, the Mona-based Quilt copped six trophies, including coveted prizes for Best Production, Director, and a special JADA-sponsored Stage Craft award. In a review of the Best of Tallawah presentation, this publication lauded Quilt for presenting a piece of work that, if nothing else, was “spellbinding and shockingly intense.” But where the true success of the ensemble performance piece is to be found is in the courage of the performers (and production crew, no doubt) to tackle such a high-profile and incredibly sensitive subject – and pull it off with tremendous conviction and a sense of artistic style.

Watching the group, largely populated by feverishly expressive UWI undergrads, one gets the feeling that part of Quilt’s focus lies in shining the spotlight on critical societal issues while conveying a message of hope and change through the theatrical arts, a most powerful medium if ever there was one. Led by their visionary young leader, Rayon McLean, Quilt’s future looks awfully bright, provided that they commit to the mission of offering transformative theatre, a task that the group has so obviously outlined for itself.

Very much like the Jamaica Youth Theatre (which has produced dazzling pieces like 2010’s Graffiti), what Quilt could become known for is pushing local theatrical experiment towards a more riveting, challenging, and call-to-action form of expression. For a relatively new performing arts company, that’s quite a daunting reputation to not only live up to but also authentically maintain.

STEPPING OUT: T.D. Jakes offers advice for putting your best foot forward in the New Year

THE ROAD YET TRAVELLED: Get on the path to prosperity.

The countdown is in high gear. As you prepare to jumpstart a New Year, what goals have you set for yourself? For so many of us, it’s true that you desperately want to go in pursuit of everything your heart desires – but you’re simple in need of a little nudge. Try these four practical suggestions from the wit and wisdom of Bishop T.D. Jakes to make 2012 your best year ever:

1. Stop replaying in your head what you didn’t achieve in 2011. This self-flagellation is destructive. Take a kinder end-of-year self-assessment: “What did I like about 2011? What did I learn?” Wait for the answers.

2. Take the focus off yourself by giving your time and your love. Volunteer in a prison, senior centre or wherever your gifts can make a difference.

3. Be civil. Our society seems especially jealous and brutal these days, judging from sordid reality television shows and crime stats. You can help change the tone.

4. Teach your children about managing life’s highs and lows. Leaving them a financial inheritance is a fine intention, but the greater legacy is the imprint you leave on their hearts and minds.

Bishop T.D. Jakes is the author of Mama Made the Difference, Reposition Yourself: Living Life Without Limits, and The T.D. Jakes Relationship Bible – and the producer behind such films as 2008’s Not Easily Broken, starring Taraji P. Henson and Morris Chestnut.

“Let your haters be your motivators” – Anonymous

CRITIC’S NOTEBOOK: Awards season's biggest players (UPDATE)

HIGH DRAMA: Rawlins, Lawes and Williams in Not About Eve.

Buzz continues to build around an eminent bunch of productions and performers in local theatre. So who are the standouts to watch? How is the race shaping up at this point?

The traditional December rush is upon us, with a raft of new shows slated to draw packed houses to Kingston’s theatre hotspots in the coming weeks. Top productions are jostling for premium spotlight in the meantime, as the season hits its stride in the penultimate sprint towards the new year.
Here’s a quick refresher on the chief contenders:

Not About Eve – Prompted by critical praise and recent overwhelming word-of-mouth reviews, Not About Eve now sits comfortably atop the competition. But is the ensemble drama strong enough to fend off a spirited challenge to end the year as number #1? What is certain: Nadean Rawlins is a shoo-in for a Best Actress nomination.

A Gift For Mom – It’s looking promising that this terrific family saga from the Basil Dawkins/Douglas Prout factory will land a Best Production nom. It’s also possible that the stellar Ruth HoShing and Alwyn Scott could also be recognized.

Charlie’s Angels – Could Jambiz finally cop their first big win since going all the way with 2007's River Bottom? Glen Campell, Teisha Duncan and Camille Davis are in rare form, buoyed by some of the cleverest writing of Patrick Brown’s career.

Last Call – Sassy Sakina Deer could sashay her way to a well-deserved supporting-actress nom for her work in this appealing period musical penned and co-directed by Keiran King. The rest of the cast may also land acting nods, particularly Shayne Powell for his lovelorn Joseph.

Acts of the Apostles – Big, brassy musical productions don’t get much more heavyweight than this. Although it was more spectacle than memorable substance, Acts of the Apostles did score a knockout in Jean-Paul Menou’s scene-stealing turn as the vicious Claudio.

5 Actresses to Watch: Camille Davis (Charlie’s Angels); Nadean Rawlins (Not About Eve); Ruth HoShing (A Gift For Mom); Dahlia Harris (God’s Way); Trudy Bell (Adopted Child)

5 Actors to Watch: Glen Campbell (Charlie’s Angels); Alwyn Scott (A Gift for Mom); Winston Bell (Stop Dat Train); Omaro Mazlyn (Masqueraders); Michael Nicholson (Adopted Child)

5 Supporting Actresses to Watch: Faith Gordon (Hairpeace); Teisha Duncan (Charlie’s Angels); Sakina Deer (Last Call); Lisa Williams (Not About Eve); Rosie Murray (If Walls Could Talk)

5 Supporting Actors to Watch: Ainsley Whyte (God’s Way); Jean-Paul Menou (Acts of the Apostles); Paul Beale (Adopted Child); Shayne Powell (Last Call); Akeem Mignott (Tapestry)

5 Directors to Watch: Patrick Brown/Trevor Nairne (Charlie’s Angels); Keiran King/Michael Daley (Last Call); Douglas Prout (A Gift For Mom); Brian Heap (Not About Eve); Greg Thame (Acts of the Apostles)

DOUBLE JEOPARDY: Davis and Campbell in Charlie's Angels.

TALKING BACK: TALLAWAH readers weigh in on the Holness Homeschooling Matter

PICTURE THIS: The family Holness.

Last week’s op-ed “Home Is Where the School Is” (an exploration of the controversial choice by PM Andrew Holness and wife Juliet to homeschool their two young sons) struck a nerve with readers, a few of whom wasted little time in firing off a written response:

I carry no briefs for the Holnesses, but I can’t see what all the brouhaha is about their decision to homeschool their children. Every good parent want the best for their children, and even if the schools in Jamaica were the best in the world, due to Mr. Holness' stewardship or not, there is no good reason to deny the boys the opportunity to get individual attention, if the parents have the time and the resources, just to prove a point to the Jamaican people.
I think there are several other more substantive matters that we should be focusing on to keep our leaders accountable than their decision to do what’s best for their children. After all we did not elect their children. – Desmond

Oh please! If I could I would homeschool my kids, regardless of where I lived. My nephew was homeschooled in the US, and my nieces to a point as well, and they learned so much more and quicker. It's a choice. Why we are all up in the parents’ right to choose what’s best for their kids if it's not abusive? And, which of you with challenged children wouldn't want to homeschool if you were able to? Leave the people alone! – Anonymous

I had a child like the Holnesses’ 9-year-old. Jamaicans should try to understand. Plus, the family did not know of Mr. Golding's sudden departure when they had to change their lifestyle too. Why do we pick on our leaders as we do? – VC

I agree with the article. It is ironic; however, it is very typical. The Minster of Transport will not subject himself or his family to public transportation; the Minister of Health will not subject himself or his family to a public hospital. Why then would the education minister send his children to public school? The irony started from they were enrolled in a "prep" school; the Minister overseeing the education system, will not subject his children to said system. It's an age-old phenomenon. But how refreshing it would be if any of our public figures would actually participate in "public activities" so that when they stand at a podium and claim that they are us, that they feel our dilemmas, that they are "grass-root," it were actually true. The big JC, who was the greatest public figure to walk this earth, said a call to leadership is a call to servitude. And not to mention, he created the universe, yet he slept in the mountains, and participated in all public activities. Homeschooling is great, for anybody, but the issue is deeper! – KHG

HOT TICKET: A guide to December’s must-see exhibitions and great performances

HER OWN CREATION: Laura Facey will open her latest exhibit on Sunday, Dec. 4, at her idyllic farm in Mount Plenty, St. Ann. “It’s a small series of new works, mainly wood carvings,” Facey has said of the new exhibit, which will be curated by Roktowa’s Melinda Brown. Viewers are sure to come away with a deeper respect for the woman and her work.

MUST-HEAR ALBUM: Florence and The Machine first got notice with the release of their debut album, 2009’s Lungs, one of the bestselling releases of that year. Now the lavishly gifted songstress (flame-haired 25-year-old wonder Florence Welch) and the musicians who provide music for her voice are experiencing unprecedented raves with their latest, Ceremonials, an out-of-this-world concoction laden with soaring hymns of heartache, hope and regret. Throughout, Welch’s unforgettable voice remains a bewitching instrument. Download: “Lover to Lover”

ENCORE: In her riveting one-woman piece, Jamaica Farewell, actress Debra Ehrhardt takes an unflinching look at the trials and triumphs that helped shape the woman she’s become. Based in the States, Ehrhardt brought the acclaimed show to the island for a limited run last summer, but it’s now slated for a couple more stints before local audiences. Ehrhardt is set to play the GoldenEye Hotel & Resort in Oracabessa (Dec. 10) and the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort & Spa in Ocho Rios (Dec. 11).

PERSONAL VISION: Folks in Kingston, don’t miss “Lens, Camera, Shoot!” at the Bolivar Gallery, a vivid display of the photographic skill of world-travelling artists Varun Baker and Christanya Julien. Teeming with breathtaking images, the exhibit is a remarkable celebration of beauty and nature’s bounty. Info: 926-8799.

DYNAMIC DUO: Chris Martin teams with Romain Virgo on soon-to-be-released track

CHART-TOPPER: Martin keeps the hit songs coming.

No one is more surprised than Chris Martin at the phenomenal runaway success of his latest play-it-to-death single “Cheater’s Prayer,” which has drawn its share of awe and suspicion since its release just over a month ago while topping reggae charts across the Caribbean and elsewhere.

Now the soulful singer is gearing up to delight his die-hard fans anew with an excitingly fresh collaboration with fellow Rising Stars alum Romain Virgo titled “One Way Ticket,” which Martin admittedly penned while on tour in Europe. The track was recorded via Martin’s newly established record label, Cheeny Big Son, named after his mother. Aimed at their predominantly young female listenership “One Way Ticket” should easily capitalize on Martin’s and Virgo’s mix of youth, modern appeal and pure vocal talent.

Meanwhile, when it comes to putting lyrics to paper, Martin says he’s witnessed an inspiring maturity in his songwriting. “When I’m writing now, I write along the lines of concepts,” he recently said in an interview with Intense. “I’m now opening up my mind to different things.”

ON THE SCENE: PM Holness meets with World Bank rep + Bolt and Branson hang at Track & Records

KINDRED SPIRITS: British tycoon Sir Richard Branson (best known for the Virgin Group of Companies) paid a visit to the island last week and made a point of stopping by Tracks & Records, the place to be seen these days, where he chatted with fellow trailblazer Usain Bolt.

SEALING THE DEAL: PM Andrew Holness' weekend intinerary included a meeting with World Bank Representative to Jamaica, Giorgio Valentini, who paid the PM last Friday at Jamaica House. Holness reportedly assured Valentini that Jamaica is an ideal place for investments based on the country’s fiscal prudency and measures being taken to ensure its economic stability. He also reaffirmed the government's commitment to renewing and strengthening the strong relationship between Jamaica and the World Bank.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

SHOW GIRL: Regina Beavers dishes on her return to The Blackburns

MELLOW YELLOW: Beavers talks family life and showbiz.

Television has always been Regina Beavers’ comfort zone; she seems to share a symbiotic relationship with the camera. So the girl is naturally thrilled about returning to the small screen as a castmate on the latest season of The Blackburns. And we are equally thrilled to see her back in action as academic and temptress Dr. Shemina Brodber. “I’m excited,” she tells me animatedly. “The show offers a great opportunity, and I love being a part of it. It’s the only sitcom in Jamaica and I’m playing someone, a lecturer, that I’m very comfortable with. I couldn’t ask for more.”

If there’s one thing Beavers enjoys most about the complex character it’s her mix of free-spiritedness and seductiveness. “She is up to her usual tricks this season. Things get a little more heated, a little raunchier,” she says, laughing. “I’m definitely looking forward to the scenes with Marcus [Icah Wilmot], because you know he’s kinda cute. [He] gets very close to the pie this season, so I’m looking forward to how the scenes will be edited.”

This past October, Beavers widened her scope as an actor, with an appearance in the Basil Dawkins kitchen-sink play A Gift for Mom, where, opposite Alwyn Scott, she revealed a subtle gift for sexy comedy. For the star (and TALLAWAH cover girl), the performance was only a glimpse of where she intends to go with her craft. “It was a life-changing experience. It was very challenging, but it was a challenge that I overcame,” she admits. “So it makes me think of growth and success. And I feel that I have lots more to do.”

In addition to introducing her to a whole new audience, the play also brought producers calling. So Beavers is already plotting a return to the stage. “Of course,” she replies, when asked of the possibility. “I actually got another offer for next January, but it was all the way in MoBay.” She had to pass on it because, as she tells it, “Christmas is a difficult time to be away from the family.”

And while we’re on the subject of the impending holiday season, Beavers is clear about what the season means to her. “It’s definitely family time for me. I know that this might contradict the fact that I’m a part of the entertainment industry, but I love spending time with my son at this time of year,” Beavers explains. “We live up in the hills where it gets really cold, so we do the blanket and hot chocolate. Christmas is a time to reflect, but it also brings my family closer together.”

COUGAR TOWN: Beavers and Wilmot in The Blackburns of Royal Palm Estate.

HOME IS WHERE THE SCHOOL IS: The Holnesses’ controversial choice to teach their boys at home highlights troubling facts

FAMILY MATTERS: The Holnesses come under fire.

Jamaicans everywhere are taken with the country’s new first family, the Holnesses. They come off as a lovingly wholesome, tightly-knit bunch. Youthful and happy, they appear to represent a sort of familial ideal. So one finds it largely unsurprising that the decision by PM Andrew Holness and wife, Juliet, to remove their young sons (Adam and Andrew Jr.) from the prep school they’d been attending in favour of a home-schooling setup has been met with vociferous public outcry. In addition to his general prime ministerial duties, Mr. Holness is also the country’s education minister. The fat irony is too delicious to ignore.

Citing one of their son’s academic underperformance as a deep concern and the principal reason behind the move, the Holnesses, about two months ago, signed off on their decision, which was made public in a recent Gleaner interview.

As it happens, Mr. and Mrs. Holness are by no means the only Jamaican parents who’ve taken such proactive steps in the hope of experiencing a turnaround in their children’s academic progress. After all, experts agree that the benefits of homeschooling outweigh the cons, mostly because it promotes individualized learning.

But still, in PM Holness’ case, the fact that he and his wife have gone to such lengths, so to speak, draws great attention to problems in the nation’s education system that are yet to be fixed. And some Jamaicans are deeply disturbed by this.

So it’s not a matter of should we support the Holness’ choice to homeschool their boys; it’s not our place to say how and where their kids are educated – or raised, for that matter. The point, however, is that as the country’s prime minister (and minister with responsibility for education), such a move on PM Holness’ part serves to put a blinding spotlight on the unaddressed inadequacies of our education system in an age when some institutions are being publicly outed as failing schools.

HE’S GOT A NEW ATTITUDE: Can Asafa Powell reap more favourable results in 2012?

BODY OF WORK: Powell seeking a turnaround in results.

Could 2012 turn out to be the Year of the Pow?

After battling an incessant groin injury and facing mounting criticism over his underwhelming performances on the track in recent times, Jamaican sprint star Asafa Powell is anticipating a turnaround in fortune in the New Year.

According to the sprinter’s manager, Paul Doyle, Powell is displaying marked improvement in his approach to the sport these days. “Asafa has come in with a new attitude. Quite honestly, this is the best attitude we have seen him train with,” Doyle recently told the Associated Press.

Good news indeed for the many Powell fans, here and everywhere, who’ve consistently rooted for the athlete and are dying to see him back in top form. With the London Olympics (July 27 to August 12) on the horizon, Doyle says his client has set his sights on conquering new territory ahead of what might be his final showing on the Olympic stage. “He is aware that this might be his last Olympics, and he wants to give everything he can,” Doyle said.

The preparation will see Powell (who just turned 29) participating in a few 60-metre races to give him an easy transition into the March 9-11 Indoor World Games in Turkey.

All this will no doubt serve as a precursor to a fierce ‘trivalry’ that has the makings of one for the ages. In fact, Jamaica’s 50th anniversary gifts that matter would certainly include the long-anticipated showdown between the Bolt, the Beast and the Pow. Let it happen, boys. Let it happen.

NATION BUILDERS: PM Andrew Holness honours long-serving civil servants with awards

STATE MEN: PM Holness and Sir Patrick Allen at King's House.

This past Wednesday, the 2011 Civil Service Long Service Awards took place at Kings House, with Prime Minister Andrew Holness handing out awards to some 187 persons during the ceremony, also attended by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen. Most of the awardees hailed from Jamaica Customs, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.

Civil Service Week, Nov. 20-26, is being observed under the simple theme “Civil Servants: Repositioning for National Development.”

MODEL CITIZEN: PM Holness presents the Jamaica Civil Service Long-Service Award to Customs Supervisor, Lenworth Henry, for 25 years of service as a public sector employee. Henry started his public service at the Inland Revenue Department.

OH, HAPPY DAY: President of the Government Credit Union (GSB), Michael Roofe, presents the 2011 Civil Servant of the Year Award to Dr. Suzan McLennon Miguel, a veterinarian at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. This is the third year in a row that an employee from that ministry has copped the prestigious individual award for a public sector employee.

HONOUR & RESPECT: PM Holness greets Veronica Poyser of Court Management Services at the Kings House ceremony. Poyser, one of the top awardees, began her public service employment the Jamaica Defence Force 26 years ago.

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STAGE PREVIEWS: Dahlia Harris ready to take us Back A Yaad, Jambiz revives Breadfruit Kingdom

HEAT OF THE MOMENT: Harris' oeuvre includes 2010's Judgement.

Alongside fellow producers Basil Dawkins, Jambiz and the LTM, Dahlia Harris is looking to join the 2011 awards season rush with an upcoming production of her newest work, Back A Yaad, which opens Dec. 27.

Proving yet again that the multi-hyphenate star is of the proactive variety, Back A Yaad is Harris’ third play, after last year’s Thespy-winning smash hit Judgement and this past October’s God’s Way. No word yet on the finer details of the Back A Yaad plot or the casting, but in an interview with TALLAWAH a couple months ago, actor Chris McFarlane indicated that he’d been approached to join the cast. Plus, the title sounds very adventurous.

In the meantime, a source reveals exclusively to TALLAWAH that for their annual Christmas production, the Jambiz crew is mounting a revival of the very funny Breadfruit Kingdom. How wonderful! Who can forget the original 1999 production (penned, of course, by the über-prolific Patrick Brown), starring Oliver Samuels, Fae Ellington, Glen Campbell, Volier Johnson and Claudette Pious?

Equally well-anticipated this season are the new works by Dawkins (Where Is My Father?, opening Dec. 27), Stages Productions (title not yet revealed), and the LTM Pantomime Company, who are this year bringing Anansi and Goat Head Soup to the Little Theatre.

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PROF. AGGREY BROWN Remembered: ‘The Caribbean has lost another great educator’

THE DEPARTED: Prof. Aggrey Brown (1941-2011).

The Jamaican government has hailed the late Professor Aggrey Brown as a stalwart of education. “We have lost another of our great thinkers, an intellectual with an extraordinary mind and an outstanding ability to impart his years of knowledge and training to the many who passed through the Mona campus of the UWI,” said information minister Senator Arthur Williams in a release issued Wednesday afternoon. “On behalf of the government, I wish to extend condolences to his wife, Suzanne, and his children, family, and the thousands of students whose lives he impacted.”

Prof. Brown, a former Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education and former Director of UWI’s Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC), was regarded as one of Jamaica’s leading and most outspoken voices on radio. Working with the then Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation, he hosted the popular call-in programme Public Eye.

Still, according to Senator Williams, Professor Brown will perhaps be most fondly remembered for transforming the lives of countless UWI students. “Professor Brown will be especially remembered by many of region’s successful journalists and communications specialists whose minds he helped to mould during his 22 years as head of Carimac,” Williams said.

The Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) concurs. “Prof. Brown was the essence of CARIMAC, who demanded, and in fact got excellence from his students of media and communication. He was the standard bearer for journalism and media education in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean,” the group said in a statement.

Prof. Brown, a Cornwall College alum, died Wednesday at the Tony Thwaites Wing (the University Hospital of the West Indies) following a period of illness. He was 70.

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Wednesday, 23 November 2011

ON THE RECORD: New Prodigal single inspires widespread debate

POWER & FAITH: Things are looking up for the deejay.

If you’ve followed his career over the past few years, then you’re aware that Prodigal Son is no stranger to controversy. But, by all appearances, controversy only serves to draw attention to the gospel star’s (consistent) musical output and perpetual quest to win souls for “the kingdom.” Take for instance his latest hit “Love Me Like This” – an intimate, sensitively written record about finding a reliable and lasting love in Christ – which has sparked debate about everything from its lyrics to whether it is appropriate for gospel settings. Too sexy for church?

As he tells it, Prodigal ( Calvin Whilby) is unfazed by the shallow response in some quarters, and that includes the skeptical reaction among fellow Christians. If anything, he is thrilled by the song’s impact and its success in secular circles, where, he says, it matters most. As he prepares to kick off a US/Canadian tour and preps his forthcoming album, Prodigal speaks with TALLAWAH about challenging himself creatively, the sad reality of entertainers behind bars, and his next moves.

TALLAWAH: Prodigal, what inspired your decision to record this song, which signals a stylistic departure for you?
Prodigal: The song is really about my conversion, how I feel about becoming a Christian. But I also wanted to record a song that everybody would be able to relate to. I didn’t want there to be any boundaries to people from all over being able to appreciate it. I wanted to share the experience with everyone, Christians and sinners.

TALLAWAH: Do you at all find the hullabaloo over the lyrics surprising?
Prodigal: Somewhat. What’s most surprising is that some people see it in a raunchy light. That was the biggest surprise. But I’m happy that when it was just released it really took off in the dancehall. So I have to give thanks to the secular [disc jockeys]. The thing is, there are a few who think it’s a little too sexy for a gospel song, but I can’t account for other people’s thought patterns.

TALLAWAH: Moving forward, what direction are you taking with your brand of reggae/dancehall gospel?
Prodigal: I’m moving the box from around me. For years, the mistake I’ve made is trying to make people embrace my music, but I need to embrace myself and what God gave me. So you are not going to hear all my songs say ‘Jesus’; I want to address issues from around the world. Social songs, clean songs, clean music.

TALLAWAH: As it happens, we live in an era that will be remembered for the incarceration of the likes of Buju Banton and Vybz Kartel. What are your thoughts on the sad reality of entertainers facing life behind bars?
Prodigal: For me, no man is invincible. The law is for everybody. But every man is innocent until he’s proven guilty. But my advice to everyone is to walk circumspect. No one is irredeemable; they are all souls to win for the kingdom.

TALLAWAH: What else is new in your career these days?
Prodigal: Recently, I took a little break for myself and was working on some young artistes. But I’ve been back working on new singles. I just returned from Orlando and I’ll be going off to Canada this week, then return to prepare for a tri-state tour. I’m putting out a new CD early next year, so there’s a lot to look forward to.

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