Tuesday, 27 December 2011

CROWD PLEASER: Etana talks life on tour, upcoming third album, and giving back

THAT'S THE SPIRIT: Etana reflects on 2011 and looks ahead.

Any listing of the most in-demand reggae stars of 2011 must include Etana. From selling out overseas concerts and continent-hopping (Europe, Asia, South America…) with her band in tow to giving sensational performances at home and across the region, it was absolutely Etana’s year to shine.

And gleam she did, including her most recent brilliant performance on home soil at Boxing Day’s star-studded Sting extravaganza at Jamworld in Portmore. “The vibe was wicked,” she says of Monday night’s performance, speaking with TALLAWAH by phone. “We had some issues with the band, but we worked it out. So overall it was good.”

For a top-rated entertainer (and occasional diva to boot) who has been doing her royal thing for years, Etana is used to excelling on stage – and in life – in spite of hurdles. Take her hectic touring schedule these past couple months, for instance. “Some of it was rough, like the travelling and the weather,” she confesses. “It got extremely cold in Europe, and being on the road is not easy.”

Even so, nothing could deter the deeply committed singer, known for giving her all with the mic in hand, from putting on a good show and pleasing the hundreds of concertgoers who came out to see her. “All the shows were full and well-received,” Etana says of the tour, which took her across the European mainland and for a two-week stint in Japan.

Etana admits that she can still be surprised by her fans’ depth of knowledge of her body of work. “They know all the songs, even the ones that aren’t on the albums! And they bring their own albums to have them signed. It was amazing and so surprising to me.”

The New Year will no doubt bring its share of fresh surprises. But if there’s one primary goal Etana has set her sights on it’s delivering a third album that she hopes will explore her fascination with ska and other vintage sounds while staying true to her approach to self-expression. And though her label isn’t too keen on putting out another Etana album before next fall, the singer is adamant that the material she has in mind is distinct from anything fans have heard from her in the past. “The third album will certainly be different from the others,” she stresses. “So I’m hoping it will be out before the end of next summer.”

By all accounts, much of that incredible sense of conviction in her work translates to the rest of Etana’s life as a sister, daughter, friend and super-wife. For one, she believes strongly in giving back to her community and country. Scheduled to grace the stage at two of Jamaica’s biggest events next month – the Jazz & Blues Festival and the earlier Shaggy and Friends charity concert – gives the songbird an indescribable feeling.

“It’s always good to give back,” she says. “I’m always away, so if I can get to perform at an event like the Shaggy concert, it’s a great opportunity for me to give something back to my country.”

JAZZ & BLUES 2012 Update: Ky-Mani Marley added to the bill

RASTA GOT SOUL: Ky-Mani for Jazz & Blues 2012.

Joining Heads of State as the newest additions to the list of performers for the 2012 Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival in Trelawny, Grammy-nominated star Ky-Mani Marley, known for his potent fusion of reggae and hip-hop, is set to hit the stage on July 27, alongside Shaggy, Marcia Griffiths, John Holt and Etana.

Thursday’s big opening night of the three-day fest is intended to be a major celebratory event in honour of Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of Independence. As for the other two nights of rich music, concertgoers can expect thrilling sets from headliners Celine Dion, Cee-Lo Green, Nicole Henry, Jully Black, and other confirmed acts.

ON THE GREEN: Teeing off with Dr. Bolt

ON PAR: The gentleman's game of golf figured into Usain Bolt's series of holiday activities, as the World's Fastest Man and friends on Monday took to the green at the White Witch Golf Course in Rose Hall, St. James, to play a couple rounds while soaking up the bucolic vibe and catching the afternoon breeze. Check out the highlights.

DYNAMIC DUO: Longtime friend Nugent also hit the course.

FAMILY MATTERS: With the parentals, Jennifer and Wellesley, in Sherwood Content. "It's always a joy chilling with my parents," Bolt later tweeted. "Holidays well spent."

DVD SPOTLIGHT: Marcy May is a finely wrought indie jewel

Martha Marcy May Marlene
Director: T. Sean Durkin

Quiet and unsettling, Marcy May is the kind of psychological drama that worms its way under your skin and haunts you for days like a ghostly presence.

Boasting a mesmeric central performance from Elizabeth Olsen (in her screen debut), it tells the story of a damaged young woman who flees a cult of strange miscreants (their leader played with creepy charisma by John Hawkes) and finds solace at the summer lake-front home of her sister and brother-in-law (Sarah Paulson and Hugh Dancy).

Revelatory flashbacks illuminate the young woman’s sometimes horrifying experiences, but the blurred line between dream and memory evokes an enigma that surrounds the whole thing and persists till the very end.

WAKING THE DEAD: "Grandpa" Merciless, please let it go

FUNERAL RITES: Kiprich and Merciless onstage at Sting 2011.

“Mi love war till it ah mad me.” A heated Kiprich was in a military frame of mind at Monday’s Sting (dubbed “Rumours of War”), which characteristically drew a mammoth crowd to Jamworld in Portmore, St. Catherine.

With red-hot fire in his veins, the young deejay was prepared to the tee and itching to slay his proposed “clash” rival, the cane-assisted Merciless. What a catastrophe. The lopsided combat was over before it even began, as the video footage below clearly attests.

Hinged primarily on homophobic slurs, slanderous tribute to the memory of Peter King, and gangster posturing, the twosome engaged in a lyrical tussle, occasionally hilarious, other times just painful to watch. In truth, it was a one-sided affair: Kiprich captivatingly aggressive, Merciless struggling to keep up with the kid’s energy. By the time the plush-white casket was rolled out to centrestage, Merciless had been completely eviscerated. It was a sound beating. Not to say that people were expecting a different outcome, but Merciless failed to put up even a decent fight.

This only goes to show that Merciless needs to give it a rest. What exactly is he trying to prove at his age? Let it go. At close to 50 years old, the once-happening deejay is simply no match for his more youthful contemporaries who are running the dancehall today, least of all Kiprich, who is a smart lyricist and seems to take his clashing very seriously. His preparation is total.

The brutal, unforgiving environment of a Jamworld on Boxing Day is certainly no place to show up and flop, miserably too, in front of a throng of bottle-happy, blood-thirsty patrons. But perhaps Merciless agreed to the clash primarily for the financial payoff. Even so, such actions run the risk of suicide of the most gruesome kind. The modern dancehall is fresh out of mercy for the likes of Merciless.

ON THE VERGE: Get in the groove with R&B newbie Luke James

NEW KID ON THE BLOCK: Introducing Luke James.

Citing such tapped-for-greatness talents as Frank Ocean and Miguel among the contemporary entertainers he’s feeling, R&B newcomer Luke James has himself left quite an impression on industry heavy-hitters. Already he’s been professionally linked with Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland and Estelle, even appearing in Beyoncé’s pompous “Run the World” clip. The soon-to-be-30 year-old singer-songwriter has also paid his dues behind the scenes, penning hits for the likes of Keri Hilson, Justin Bieber, and Chris Brown (“Crawl”).

As a teaser for his upcoming debut CD (via Island Def Jam), slated for sometime in 2012, the talented New Orleans native recently put out #LUKE, a solid mixtape of nine tracks that melds catchy R&B hooks with tuneful dance-pop and slight hip-hop sensibilities with study beats. What emerges most is a compelling mashup of styles in the tradition of Usher and Trey.

Although mid-tempo cuts like “Made to Love” and “Soldier” are gorgeous accounts of intimacy and pleasure, dancefloor sizzlers “Powerless” and “Guilty Pleasure” possess real anthemic potential. Still, best of all, is the slow-burning “I Want You,” where James shows off a falsetto so unusually luscious it stops you dead in your tracks.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

THE MEANING OF MENOU: The über-busy actor stretches out in 2011

TAKING THE LEAD: "It’s something I’ve always wanted to do."

With starring roles in three radically different stage projects this year: the relationship dramedy Confessions, the blockbuster musical Acts of the Apostles, and Basil Dawkins’ upcoming drama Where Is My Father?, Jean-Paul Menou proves why he is one of theatre’s most versatile and distinctive talents. It was a thrill to see him deliver with such power and pathos this year, but with Louis Marriott’s Bedward and the short film Red Amber Green on the horizon, the actor appears poised to marvel audiences anew in 2012. He speaks with TALLAWAH:

TALLAWAH: In Acts of the Apostles, you almost steal the show from right under your co-stars. How did you land that role with Father HoLung and Friends?
Menou: My girlfriend was doing the show, and she suggested that I get involved with it as well. The director knew me through Schools’ Challenge Quiz, so I didn’t have to audition, and then they extended the role a little bit. So I was happy to be a part of it.

TALLAWAH: Your latest play, Where Is My Father?, opens this week. What’s the basic gist of the story?
Menou: It’s about a young lady who has been raped and is searching for her attacker, but he has skipped town and is now hiding in the States. The guy’s father is this really evil lawyer, played by me, who is trying to get the girl knocked off. It sounds very serious, but there is a lot of humour in the story.

TALLAWAH: Your appearance in the trailer for Chris Byfield’s soon-to-be-released short film Red Amber Green was rather unexpected. How did your involvement with that project come about?
Menou: I had met Byfield sometime ago, and he later contacted me on Facebook saying he was doing the film and was wondering if I could be a part of it. It’s a nice little work. I like his energy and his vibe. I’m really encouraged when young people move in the direction of film because the industry needs it.

TALLAWAH: And you also happen to be a quizmaster on Schools’ Challenge Quiz!
Menou: It’s a dream come true because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. So when I heard about the auditions I went for the job. But it took a little bit of convincing for them to choose me. I have always wanted to host a game show. It’s entertaining and it doesn’t touch on any controversy. For the upcoming season of [SCQ], they’ve revamped the set, so it’s got more of a game-show vibe now.

TALLAWAH: 2012 promises to be a big year for Jamaicans. What are you most looking forward to?
Menou: Next year, I’m looking forward to travelling. I haven’t done much travelling in a while. I have a sister living in Bangkok who works for the French government, and I hope to visit her before she is moved somewhere else.

JAZZ & BLUES 2012 Update: Kelly Rowland out; Heads of State in

KELLY'S WORLD: Rowland to miss Jazz & Blues Fest.

Concertgoers who were anticipating an appearance by former Destiny’s Child bandmate Kelly Rowland at next month’s Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival in Trelawny will be disappointed to learn that the R&B starlet had to drop out of the performance lineup on account of unforeseen changes in her 2012 itinerary.

Responding to recent queries, a source at Headline Entertainment, the press liaison for the festival, informed TALLAWAH that Rowland will miss out on the festival due to a scheduling “conflict in her calendar.” Still, the 30-year-old singer has not given up on the idea of performing for her Jamaican fans on a future date. “She says she is hoping to come another time,” Headline said.

In the meantime, Heads of State (the male R&B supergroup comprised of former New Edition lead singers Bobby Brown, Johnny Gill and Ralph Tresvant) have been confirmed to grace the stage in Rowland’s stead, rounding out a star-packed field of headliners that includes mega-diva Celine Dion, soul star Cee-Lo Green and Jamaica’s very own Shaggy.

Also appearing at the three-day fest: The Temptations Review (featuring Dennis Edwards, Jully Black, Nicole Henry, Tami & Tessanne, Chris Martin, Etana, Destra, Marcia Griffiths, and several others.

FIGHTING TEMPTATION: Chris Martin comes of age

EASY DOES IT: All grown up, Martin is making his mark.

Since making his initial dent in the pop culture psyche, Christopher Martin has always exuded an aura of a boy on the brink of manhood, both in performance and in person. But the ascendant singer-songwriter attempts to shatter that very man-child imagery before our very eyes in his newest video, for the earnest radio hit “Cheater’s Prayer,” a tune which has been endlessly scrutinized and criticized for its bold message since hitting the airwaves this past summer.

By all appearances, in 2011 Martin attained a whole new level of maturity – personal and professional – that is allowing us to view the 24-year-old singer in a whole new light these days. In the video, helmed by de jour director Asha McHail, Martin convincingly steps into the role of a sharp-suited working man whose equally attractive lady love might be carrying on an affair behind his back. The whole thing plays out nicely, flirting with equal measures of charm and comic relief.

According to the song’s lyrics, the man in the relationship is the philandering party, or at the very least prospectively so. In the video, however, the tables are turned. Flipping the script here to vividly demonstrate that women are just as ‘villainous’ as their male counterparts in relationships is a move that works out surprisingly well, serving to enrich the storytelling.

As a whole, the “Cheater’s Prayer” vid doesn’t always avoid clichés, but overall it amuses and enlightens occasionally, while making a decent argument for Martin’s acting ability. More to the point, the video plays faithfully to the key ideas of trust, doubt and betrayal as presented by the song, while briskly and engagingly tackling the snares of romance, the challenges of temptation and the sting of infidelity.

Still, the indisputable highlight is that for the first time viewers get to see Martin in the most grown-up performance of his career. Growth, after all, is paramount in the life of anyone who considers himself a true artist.

>> Take a look at the new vid:

ON THE MOVE: Kevoy Burton graduates to the master class in latest role

IN PROFILE: Life is great for the rising young actor.

Making his first major leap into the big leagues of Jamaican theatre, Kevoy Burton (Ghett’a Life) joins the starry cast of Dahlia Harris’ Back A Yaad, intent on cementing his golden-boy meets one-to-watch status. The 19-year-old rang up TALLAWAH to talk college life, his most memorable year yet, and being a Twilight newbie.

TALLAWAH: The concept of struggle is something you grapple with in both Ghett’a Life and the new play Back A Yaad. How challenging is it to make the feeling of hardship palpable and authentic?
Burton: It’s not a challenge for me really. The thing is that it gives me a chance to try different things with my character. In Ghett’a Life, I played Derek, a very defiant young man. But in Back A Yaad, the character is not as defiant. He has the task of protecting his mother, who is a mad woman, and that is different for me.

TALLAWAH: You commenced tertiary studies at NCU this past September. How have you been finding college life?
Burton: It’s awesome. I get to live away from my parents for the first time (Laughs). I’m not saying that that’s the best thing, but it gives you a sense of independence and you have to learn to survive on your own. And it’s a very different experience from high school. For my degree, I’m studying Mass Communications, majoring in television.

TALLAWAH: 2011 was such a breakout year for you in many respects. What was the best part of the year?
Burton: I would say July, when I was preparing for the release of Ghett’a Life. [Doing the movie] was for me, my greatest achievement yet. So on July 27, when I took that walk down the red carpet, it was an incredible feeling.

TALLAWAH: Any plans to surprise yourself even more in 2012?
Burton: Yes, I keep saying that 2012 will be my year. I actually have a few projects lined up already. I’ll be doing a short film for a festival that will be held at NCU in April, and [the TV series] Kingston House will be premiering in mid-January. Plus, Dahlia’s show will be running for a while so I have a lot to look forward to.

TALLAWAH: Besides Ghett’a Life, what was the best film you saw in 2011?
Burton: I’d probably say the latest Twilight movie. It was my first time seeing a Twilight movie on the big screen. My ex-girlfriend always wanted me to watch it, so she suggested that we go. It’s actually a very good movie.

STORMING THE BOARDS: Local theatre rolls out the big guns

THE ROYAL FAMILY: Breadfruit Kingdom set to delight audiences anew.

Madness, matrimony, politics, sex abuse, heartache and love in all its guises. Kingston’s vibrant theatre scene has practically every inch of the spectrum covered this week, as new productions line up for that traditional final sprint towards awards season, while charming the socks off patrons.

Over at New Kingston’s Centrestage, the Jambiz crew promises a hearty blend of wit and wisdom with their remounting of Patrick Brown’s Breadfruit Kingdom, starring Glen Campbell, Camille Davis, Volier Johnson, Teisha Duncan and Courtney Wilson. A few blocks away, DMH Productions’ Back A Yaad explores mental illness, poverty and national pride with a cast of experience and youth that includes Deon Silvera, Dahlia Harris, Chris McFarlane and Akeem Mignott, who alternates with Kevoy Burton.

At the Stages Theatreplex on Knutsford Boulevard, Delcita and Shebada and a bunch of colourful supporting characters mix politics and comedy in The Politicians, while Oliver Samuels leads a spirited family revolution in Who Ah Di Don?

Still on the ubiquitous theme of family, Nadia Khan and Clive Duncan are set to return to the stage in the domestic saga Bittersweet Love, playing at Green Gables, while Jean-Paul Menou and Nadean Rawlins are the big names now attached to Basil Dawkins’ meditation on rape and justice, Where Is My Father? (Little Little Theatre), which also stars Rodney Campbell, Lisa Williams and Julene Robinson.

And, of course, the National LTM Pantomime (Anansi and Ram Goat Soup), that indelible staple of Jamaican culture, will have its customary premiere on Boxing Day at the Little Theatre.

Friday, 23 December 2011

GRAPHIC DESIGN: Sean Paul unveils cover art for new album

ARTFULLY COOL: The cover of SP's fifth studio record.

Sean Paul’s stash of holiday gifts for his fans has so far included dropping the stylishly impressive 10-minute visual for his Material Riddim Medley. Now, the Grammy winner is unveiling the shocking cover art for his latest studio album, Tomahawk Technique (Atlantic Records).

For me, the name of this album will certainly take some getting used to, but the cover image – an eye-popping blend of psychedelia and bold, graffiti-esque artistry – seems a perfect visual representation of the alliterative title.

Content-wise, among the 12 tracks on the upcoming CD are the Kelly Rowland-assisted “How Deep is Your Love”; the summer chart-climber “Wedding Crashers”; and the new sizzler “Roll Wid Di Don.” The energetic club hits “She Doesn’t Mind” and “Got 2 Luv U” (featuring singer Alexis Jordan) already serve as indicators of what listeners can expect.

Tomahawk Technique is slated for a Jan. 27 release in France, Belgium, and Switzerland. It will be available in Germany and Austria on Feb. 10, and in the UK and Ireland on March 12. An official US release date will be finalized in the coming weeks.

FOR THE RECKORD: Pioneering Jamaican dramatist dead at 85

TRANSITION: Barry Reckord (1926-2011)

Barry Reckord, the acclaimed Jamaican playwright, producer, actor and author, is dead. Reckord, who spent most of his life in England, passed away on Tuesday in Boscobel, St. Mary, where he had been living with his younger brother, Lloyd, since returning to Jamaica five years ago.

A recipient of the Silver Musgrave Medal, Reckord, over the course of his writing career, had more than 14 stage, radio and television plays produced in Jamaica and England. The popular Does Fidel Eat More Than Your Father: Conversations in Cuba (Signet, 1971) was penned following his trip to that country.

A splendid anthology, For the Reckord: a Collection of Three Plays by Barry Reckord, edited by Yvonne Brewster, was published late last year by London’s Oberon Books. According to Brewster, Reckord and Nobel laureate Derek Walcott are the two most “intelligent and questioning” Caribbean playwrights on societal issues. “These men have concepts that are great and deep,” said Brewster. “Derek's concepts are usually racial, Barry's are usually sexual.”

At the time of his passing, Mr. Reckord was 85 years old. Funeral details are yet to be announced.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

FANTASY RIDE: Tami lets loose and plays up her sexy side

SHOW AND TELL: The singer mixes the naughty and nice.

Wayne Marshall breaks out the AutoTune, Ce’Cile channels Madonna, and Sean Paul chops it up with a bevy of gyrating beauties. Then there’s a foxy Raine Seville, a dapper Trevor Offkey (bka Bambino), and Leftside, Laden, Fambo, Voicemail and Nicky B all appearing and sounding like their regular selves.

But, undoubtedly, the biggest surprise of the fresh-out-the-wrapper Material Riddim medley video is Tami Chynn, whom, it would appear, is experiencing a sexual liberation on a grand scale. Enticingly raunchy and dripping with sexiness, Miss Chynn is at once depicted as a good girl gone badass,
performing her newest hit, “Ride.” It’s the real highlight of the 10-minute music video – and a visual treat.

What’s more, it’s the sexiest and most provocative we’ve ever seen Tami onscreen – and it’s about time. Showing some skin and touching her limbs seductively, while reeling off lyrics that might make even her husband blush (“I have the merchandise to satisfy them appetite”), the singer makes it her business to explain to us why the boys can’t get enough of her and why some girls (the jealous kind) can’t stand her.

It’s a far cry from the demure, can’t-mash-ants, dimpled girl that crooned her way into our hearts with “Over and Over” and “Frozen.” This is a woman in complete control who is fully embracing, among other things, her sexual identity, even as she keeps the men “begging for more.” We love this new Tami. She chooses to entice us, and we are following her like bees to honey.

Take a look at the new vid:

JAMAICA 50 Countdown: Major plans announced for 2012 Independence celebrations

PRIDE OF A NATION: Big things ahead for Independence 2012.

Set to commence on January 1 with fireworks on the Kingston Harbour waterfront, and at other spots islandwide, Jamaica’s 50th Anniversary of Independence celebrations will be held under the theme “Jamaica 50: Feel the heart and soul of a nation.”

According to the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), Project Director of the Jamaica 50 Secretariat, Lenford Salmon, says the planning committee has come up with several ‘Legacy Projects’ intended to last beyond the year-long celebrations.

Such projects include the issuing of commemorative stamps, coins, and bank notes; the erection of a monument at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital in honour of Basil Watson; and the establishment of the Marcus Garvey Park and Museum in St. Ann’s Bay.

All splendid ideas.

The series of activities for Jamaica 50 are being spearheaded by a National Planning Committee, which is working in partnership with the Jamaica 50 Secretariat, charged with the mammoth responsibility of coordinating and implementing the plans. Social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter have also been set up.

Making her umpteenth appearance on Jamaican soil, rap star E-V-E (“Gangsta Lovin’, “Love is Blind”) is the latest addition to the star-studded lineup for the 2012 Shaggy and Friends concert, slated for Jan. 7 on the grounds of Jamaica House. Also performing at the show: Lauryn Hill, Deniece Williams, Wayne Marshall, Tami Chynn, Romain Virgo, Assassin, Shaggy, and others.

SHAGGY on NBC's Today Show: "Little Drummer Boy" remixed island style

IN THE FRAME: Shaggy visits the NBC Studios.

"It breaks down all barriers, in any language. It's global," observes Shaggy, in reference to reggae's special worldwide appeal. "It's brand reggae. It's brand Jamaica. They're co-factors, and you just want to be a part of it."

The Grammy winner (and unofficial cultural spokesman) was at NBC on Monday to perform his reggaefied version of the standard holiday tune "Little Drummer Boy" on The Today Show, as part of the network's December concert series. Appropriately attired in the colour of the season, designer shades, and a healthy-looking crop of curls, Shaggy's performance (lively and full of the star's trademark vim and vigour), went over well with the cheery crowd. "Jamaican Drummer Boy" is now available for download via iTunes.

Here's a clip of the live performance:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

DEBATE STALEMATE: Perspectives from Tuesday’s political leadership debate

TAKING THE LEAD: Holness (left) and Simpson-Miller.

Fielding questions on everything from debt management, growth strategy and poverty to education, corruption and homophobia, the JLP’s Andrew Holness and his PNP counterpart Portia Simpson-Miller met in a lukewarm (if anti-climactic) hour-long debate on Tuesday night to essentially give prospective voters in the Dec. 29 General Elections a sturdier understanding of their candidacy for the coveted title of Next Political Leader of Independent Jamaica. A primer of the issues and answers:

On the Dudus/Manatt fiasco:

admitted that the issue “was not handled in the best way, and we have paid the consequences. But steps are being made by the [JLP] to redeem itself.”

countered: “It was a result of bad management and political favouritism. The [former] prime minister should never have inserted himself in the matter in the first place.”

Homophobia and the buggery law:

reiterated that such issues remain extremely sensitive and polarizing, but “we are an open society and the issues that are difficult to discuss are being discussed.”

quickly asserted: “Our administration believes in protecting human rights. No one should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. The government should protect. We have to look at the buggery law.” She went on to say, “I do not support the position of the former Prime Minister [Bruce Golding]. People should be appointed [to public office] based on ability and not based on their sexual [preference].”

Financing tertiary education:

confessed that this has been a “challenged area for both administrations. It is such a controversial and potentially explosive thing.” The prime minister added that widening the resources available for college students is a matter his government has vowed to do. “It’s a fundamental change that has to happen.”

responded: “My administration will expand [the offerings of] the Students’ Loan Bureau and review the requirements, so more students will have access to their education.”

Fighting poverty:

said it is crucial that the JLP government “continue, with greater intensity, granting access to education” and maintain the position of free access to health care. “There is no other solution,” he concluded.

pointed out that “job creation is critical in this country. We are in a crisis. We need to ensure employment for our people.”

Vote for me:

stressed that the People’s National Party is interested in, among other things, the expansion of educational services, focusing on SME’s and improving relations with the IMF. “The country must choose an experienced leader,” she said. “A leader that the people can trust.”

, meanwhile, made it clear that he understands “the frustration” and the myriad of national problems and has the requisite determination to solve them. “I see glimmers of hope in our economy…and action is being taken to stomp out corruption,” he said. “I believe we can end poverty, have universal education, and build a loving, caring society.”

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

PLAYING WITH FIRE: Cherine and Chuck Fenda romance the elements in new vid

UP CLOSE: The stars share a moment in the sun.

“Call on Me,” the brand new music video by TALLAWAH's December cover girl Cherine and conscious reggae crooner Chuck Fenda takes all kinds of creative risks that pay off brilliantly, including casting the hallowed Port Royal to serve as its splendid daytime-meets-nocturnal backdrop.

Mixing sexy fun with stark visuals and artistic flourishes, the clip (helmed by in-demand director Asha McHail) is overall a mesmerizing mashup of the elements: water, fire, history and sweet melodies. But many viewers, I’m sure, will appreciate it most for the singer’s seductive nighttime frolic on the beach, complete with raging bonfire and breaking waves, set to the anthemic romantic hit.

This couldn’t possibly be a total Cherine video, though, without the appearance of at least one haute couture moment that commands a double take. And sure enough it arrives when the radiant leading lady shows up in an edgily vibrant, multi-layered creation that steals the spotlight when the singer reclines against a perfectly positioned bus-stop sign.

Best of all, the effortless, playful appeal – coupled with a sense of authenticity – that the talented twosome brought to their previous collaboration, “Comin’ over Tonight,” makes a welcome repeat appearance, but this time it feels way more urgent.

MOVING ON: Pepita exits as host of TV J’s Intense

SORRY 2011: "I made an unfortunate decision."

Just as her promising career was beginning to take off, Pepita Little, the delightful and high-spirited host of the entertainment programme Intense on TV J, has been relieved of her hosting duties with immediate effect. The surprising decision by the station was on account of Little’s involvement in an altercation on the job recently.

“Last week at TVJ, I made an unfortunate decision and allowed my emotions to overpower my better judgement and reacted to a situation and got into an altercation with a fellow co-worker instead of walking away,” Little wrote in a message to her Facebook family on Monday. “It was an unfortunate choice that has caused me to lose a job that meant so much to me. But I have to take responsibility and learn from this and move forward.”

Having established an easy rapport with the show’s hundreds of weekly viewers for over three years, Little is admittedly sad to be walking away from what has become a tremendous passion of hers. “To my Intense peeps. I'm writing this post with a very heavy heart. Over the course of the three years [that] I've worked with Intense, you all have shown me so much love and support, and for that I thank you.”

In the meantime, Intense producer Sharon Schroeter tells TALLAWAH that she too is disappointed at the unforeseen turn of events and admits that replacing the vibrant young host will prove difficult. “There won’t be a new host for a while,” Schroeter says. “It’s going to be hard to replace her, so I can’t even think about that right now.”

Sunday, 18 December 2011

IN MEMORY OF HITCH: Risk-taker, Provocateur, Idol

LITERARY LION: Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)

To pick up a book written by Christopher Hitchens is to invite yourself into a world where the protagonist is brutally frank and ferally argumentative – but never less than captivating and full of passionate insight. I should know; I’ve devoured Hitchens’ series of Vanity Fair columns with relish and spent hours this past summer engrossed in his refreshingly candid memoir, Hitch 22, which I have also extensively written about on TALLAWAH.

An outspoken nonfiction author, critic, essayist and pundit whose international bestsellers include the wildly provocative atheist manifesto God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Hitchens passed away in Texas last week after a year-long bout with oesophagal cancer. He was 62.

Editor of Vanity Fair, Graydon Carter, himself a highly respected man of letters, has summed it all up aptly. “There will never be another Christopher. A man of ferocious intellect, who was as vibrant on the page as he was at the bar,” Carter observed. “Those who read him felt like they knew him and those who knew him were profoundly fortunate souls.”

Another fact we all know for sure: Hitchens’ wide-ranging expertise on everything from global politics to human nature – and his fearlessness in using “words as weapons” – made him a literary force to be reckoned with, idolized and despised in almost equal measure. For me, as well as the many others who are forever in his thrall, Christopher Hitchens will be deeply missed.

The literary world, indeed the planet, has lost an amazing and unique thinker who can never be replaced. In his class, Hitch was truly one of a kind. He not only brought a wonderfully fresh perspective to major hot-button issues (the Iraq War, religion, Harry Potter), but he was also possessed of remarkable power of persuasion, which helped to opulently colour his writing and his oral commentaries.

Above all (even how to construct a killer sentence), if there’s a singular thing I take from the great man, it’s a lesson in resilience. “So far I have decided to take whatever my disease can throw at me, and to stay combative even while taking the measure of my inevitable decline,” he wrote of his illness, published in the latest Vanity Fair. “This is no more than what a healthy person has to do in slow motion. It is our common fate.”

>> STORY: Hitchens breaks it down in Arguably