Wednesday, 29 August 2012

QUEEN OF THE NIGHT: Tessanne Chin 'brucks it dung' at Tracks & Records

CROWD PLEASERS: Tessanne, with members of her band.

It’s a pleasure always to see and hear the singer Tessanne Chin under the bright lights, doing what she does best: belting out some tunes live. During her terrific one-woman show at Usain Bolt’s Tracks & Records on Tuesday night (part of the Behind The Screen series), the powerhouse songstress was in fine form, looking and sounding like a woman in a great and happy place in her life – and secure enough to share the joy with her fans.

At about 10:48 pm, the screen went up and the lady appeared, nicely turned out in a femme-fatale all-black look, and ready to thrill the standing-room-only audience. And we were in for quite a treat. By turns soulful and searching, upbeat and energetic, Tessanne’s show offered a vivid demonstration of how an acoustic set can dually stir emotions and electrify.

Whether performing her new and old standout originals (vibrant “Messenger;” the skalicious “Strings of Love”; show-closer “Hideaway”) or interpreting some of her favourite cuts by other artistes (Hoobastank’s “The Reason”; Rihanna’s “We Found Love” and “Where Have You Been?”), the songbird’s vocal range and stage presence are consistently a study in superb artistry.

Yet my personal favourite moments arrived with the show’s more unexpected touches – including that utterly committed attempt at Mr. Vegas’ “Bruck It Dung”; a very nice treatment of Sean Paul’s “S/he Doesn’t Mind,” the sweet Tami Chynn duet "You & Me" and, finally, a wonderful take on the Damian Marley smash hit “Affairs of the Heart,” which Tessanne dedicated to hubby Michael Cuffe. Citing Damian’s penchant for memorable melodies and profound lyricism, Tessanne identified him as one of her dream collaborators. It wouldn’t come as a surprise that he feels the same way.

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YOUTH ARISE: College Access opening doors to new possibilities

PLAY TIME: Burton and Gordon star as young lovers in Boots.

Viewers of Boots, a clever and cleverly titled new Jamaican short film currently playing on YouTube, are not only drawn in by the charm of the pair of young leads – Kevoy Burton and Pash-Gay Gordon – but also by its core message of sexual responsibility at any age. And that’s precisely what College Access, the youthful team behind the production, is driving at.

“We’ve realized that young people today are just being regular young people, and a lot of times that can lead to trouble,” explains Burton, one of the main founders of the group. “So we wanted to create projects that would show the older generations that we are also serious about important issues and are not playing around.”

Largely made up of open-minded undergrads of Manchester’s Northern Caribbean University, College Access was born earlier this year out of a need by Burton and colleagues to create a media entity that would train its focus sharply on motivating and spurring other Jamaican youngsters to responsible action. Creativity and inspiration are the hallmarks of what they do. “It’s really an edutainment thing for us,” Burton tells TALLAWAH, noting that while CA is a big group, it boasts five core members who oversee everything from the production of new videos to the planning of events. “We try to put out positive messages, but in an entertaining way.”

Already they have seen their hard labour bear fruit, with a triumph in the film category of Heineken’s 2012 Inspire competition this past April. With Burton at the helm, the group walked away with an attractive cheque of $250,000 and a renewed determination to fulfil their purpose. That now includes expanding their efforts into the areas of charity and outreach. “So far, we’ve been able to do things like feed the homeless and visit children’s homes.”

Looking ahead, they want to do even more. And in the face of present financial limitations, the team is in the process of wooing corporate sponsors who recognize the value of their work and are willing to come on board. “Right now we are based at NCU, but the plan is to venture out to UWI and UTech and into the wider working world,” the team explains. “We want [College Access] to have as big an impact as possible on the society.”

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THE MUSIC SCENE: Cherine stops by CVM @ Sunrise; Trey Songz mixes it up on fifth album

ALBUM OF THE WEEK: At 19 tracks, Trey Songz’ newest studio effort, Chapter V, has great expectations to live up to. And while the album (a tricked-out mixture of potential club bangers and decent slow jamz) is not as infectious as 2010’s hit-laden Passion, Pain and Pleasure, it does have its bright spots – including the clever raunchiness of “Hail Mary,” where Lil Wayne and Young Jeezy lend deadly verses. But “Heart Attack,” “Dive In” and the T.I.-assisted “2 Reasons” are the cream of the crop. Tyrone's Verdict: B.

MORNING GLORY: Turned out in a fiercely chic white ensemble and sporting a head of big, wild-girl hair, dancehall-soul diva Cherine put in an appearance on Wednesday’s CVM @ Sunrise, where she kicked it on-set with the show’s hosts (including a zesty Rohan Daley), before hitting the makeshift stage to belt out her latest jam “Eagles & Doves,” which the singer remixed earlier this month in honour of Jamaica’s triumphant athletes of the 2012 London Olympics. Check out Cherine’s winsome performance HERE.

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UP RISING: Young Jamaican filmmakers making giant strides

LONDON CALLING: Christopher Byfield’s multi-award-winning Red Amber Green continues to give new meaning to ‘the little film that could.’ After hitting important film festivals from here to New York to Belize, Byfield is setting sail for Europe. Come August 31, his film will grace the screen, along with a host of other indie gems, at the Portobello Film Festival inside London’s Westbourne Studios. Created in 1996, the PFF emerged as an antidote to the archaic state of the British film industry and to provide emerging filmmakers with a forum and exposure to movies on different formats. In the meantime, Byfield has revealed that he currently has a new project in the works which he hopes will top – or even match – the triumphs of Red Amber Green.

ISLAND STORYTELLERS: As they continue to bolster their mission of bringing a modern and more innovative slant to Caribbean filmmaking, the diligent team behind New Caribbean Cinema are getting set to unveil their latest effort, Ring Di Alarm!, a vignette-style release featuring works by six filmmakers that explore powerful, sometimes dark, themes in the vast Jamaican storybook. Among the offerings are Nile Saulter’s “Coast” and Joel Burke’s “My Vote”, while the versatile cast boasts such stars as Roger Guenver Smith, Oneil Peart, Chris Hutchinson and Tesfa Edwards. Ring Di Alarm! will debut with a world premiere on September 2 at the British Film Institute in Southbank, London. To learn more, visit

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TALK OF THE TOWN: Chris and Ce'Cile welcome a pretty little baby

She’s here! Singers Ce’Cile and boyfriend Christopher Martin are now proud parents of a lovely baby girl, who was ushered into the world on Monday afternoon. It’s the first child for both entertainers, who have been an item for more than a year. “She’s a beautiful baby, and they are in love with her,” a close friend of the couple tells TALLAWAH.

After nearly 20 encounters, Jamaica’s senior Reggae Boyz are yet to defeat their longtime rivals the United States. With their next big clash – a World Cup qualifier slated for the National Stadium on Sep. 7 – locals are optimistically anticipating a reversal of fortune. “We will have a team like a well-oiled machine ready for action,” notes JFF boss Captain Horace Burrell, “and I can assure you that the Reggae Boyz will once again make Jamaica proud.”

Determined to continue his fight against the federal drug and gun charges that led to his decade-long prison sentence, Mark ‘Buju Banton’ Myrie has changed attorneys and hired Chokwe Lumumba. David Oscar Markus, the Miami attorney who previously represented the Grammy-winning reggae vet, confirmed that he's moving on from the case. “I will always consider Buju my friend and my brother, and I think of him every day,” expounds Markus. “It pains me that he is in prison. I truly hope that he gets some relief.”

What’s hot right now: Drawing a standing-room-only crowd to your live performance show.

What’s not: Tropical storms – or anything that even closely resembles one.

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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

OUT & ABOUT: Tessanne + Nugent Walker + PM Portia Simpson-Miller + Glen Mills + Sanjay + Usain Bolt

TRAVELLIN' LIGHT: Aug. 28, Switzerland. With a little luggage and a million-dollar smile, superstar sprinter Usain Bolt has arrived in Zürich, where he is set to headline the Diamond League meet on Thursday. Bolt is, once again, scheduled to compete in the 200M. (Photo: Weltklasse Zürich)

PASSING THROUGH: Aug. 28, Switzerland. Members of Bolt's team, including coach Glen Mills and personal assistant Nugent Walker (in his regular black and white ensemble), have also made the trip to Zürich for Thursday's Diamond League races. (Photo: Weltklasse Zürich)

SOUL SESSION: Aug. 26, Kingston. Looking like her usual gorgeous self, songbird Tessanne Chin kicks back with host Sanjay in the Blackberry Lounge on Sunday's Digicel Stars live show. Tessanne later hit the stage to electrify the packed Courtleigh audience with one of her newest jams. (Photo: Digicel)

PAGE BY PAGE: Aug. 27, St. Andrew. Outgoing Canadian High Commissioner, Stephen Hallihan, looks on as PM Portia Simpson-Miller points out some of the vibrant features in the new coffee-table volume Our Golden Jubilee, a copy of which she presented to him during a farewell courtesy call at Jamaica House. Simpson-Miller has described Hallihan as an excellent representative who helped to strengthen the bonds of friendship between Jamaica and Canada during his tenure. (Photo: OPM)

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SHOW ME THE MONEY: Bartlett calls for breakdown of Olympic promotions expenditure

SPEAK NOW: The JLP spokesman demands answers.

Opposition Spokesperson on Tourism and Travel Service Development, Edmund Bartlett, has called on the Simpson-Miller-led government to once and for all clear the air on money spent on promotional activities at the recent 2012 London Olympics.

Bartlett’s request comes in the wake of comments made by Information minister Sandrea Falconer, who stated that airfare and accommodations for the ministers and their delegations were not included in the £1 million.

But, according to a new release from the JLP’s communications arm, Bartlett says the public has a right to know how their tax dollar was expended, even more so with the public now in the dark on the total amount spent.

The JLP spokesman, who is also Chairman of Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC), recommends that a detailed breakdown of expenditure, in addition to marketing strategies and planned outcomes, if any, be presented to Cabinet and, by extension, the public forthwith.

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Sunday, 26 August 2012

LEAPS OF FAITH: A Letter from the Editor

The jubilation over the London Olympics, Jamaica’s golden anniversary, and the journey ahead remains palpable islandwide, but there’s a thick fog of uncertainty about the future that threatens to overshadow our buzz. As such, it has become increasingly important that we put things into perspective. And what’s more important than the next chapter in the evolution of our culture?

As a globally celebrated people standing on the cusp of a new half-a-century, any national conversation at this time has got to be centred on the idea of Where Do We Go From Here? And it has largely become TALLAWAH’s mission, as the leader in the field, to point the way.

This month’s cover subject Etana – powerhouse vocalist, wife, expectant mom, budding glamazon, role model – is vividly showing what can be achieved when you dream big, plan, and step out on faith. As the magazine reports in “She’s Every Woman,” not only is Etana getting set to put out her third solo album – and deliver a baby in the coming months – the wonder woman has newly set her sights on conquering the world of television, starting with the launch of her very own talk show (sometime in the near future), which, she says, will be a platform for motivating and empowering Jamaicans, particularly the young. Kudos, girl.

Sprinter Asafa Powell (“Inside Asafa’s World”) is another talented and ambitious soul intent on rising above challenges – injury, detractors – to push the limits of what he can do (Rio 2016, Irie Social) and the man he can become (resurgent track star, successful businessman). As he prepares to step into his third decade on the planet come November, Powell is making it abundantly clear that, as far as his professional life goes, we haven’t seen the last of him yet.

And, finally, there’s the incomparable theatre maven Leonie Forbes (“Years Without Fear”), whom I have deeply admired for years. At 75, the iconic actress has released her first memoir, Leonie: Her Autobiography, a priceless tome that I’m sure will go a long way in inspiring present and future generations about the limitless possibilities attendant to a life lived to the fullest. A life lived with hope and faith as trusted, constant companions. That sort of mantra, I believe, is also perfectly applicable to the existence of a nation.

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INSIDE ASAFA’S WORLD: The track star talks surgery, fashion modelling, and his future in athletics

NEW HORIZON: "I’ve definitely thought about modelling," confesses Powell.

It’s been quite a year for Asafa Powell, the ace sprinter once considered the fastest human in history. But nothing has been more widely discussed about him than his recent failed bid for an Olympic medal at this summer’s London Games. And while speculation is rife whether he’s approaching the end of his injury-plagued career, Asafa says he's not rushing into any major decision just yet.

The LIME ambassador, who turns 30 in November, admitted as much in a sit-down interview at the company’s Kingston HQ last week, where he fielded a series of questions from fans supplied via social media. In the end, what emerged most compellingly was the track star’s guarantee that we haven’t seen the last of him yet.

On the road ahead:
“If I could read the future I would tell you. For now I’m keeping my focus on track-and-field. I have people dealing with the business aspect… I started up a new company, Irie Social, with my friends the other day, and we’re building on that.”

Ambitions for the 2016 Rio Olympics:
“I would like to be [there]. I’ll be working hard for it. Hopefully I don’t retire, seeing that I will be turning 34 in that year. I’ll be working hard. Hopefully I can improve my times and start to run some real fast times again. And if I can do that I’ll be there.”

Groin injury since 2005 and treatment:
“I wouldn’t wish a groin injury on my worst enemies. I would take a hamstring injury any day over a groin injury because the groin injury doesn’t really get better. It keeps flaring up because I’m such an explosive starter. It keeps coming back. And to be honest, I don’t work as hard as I should. But I think I can do a lot more on it than I was doing before. It’s hard to say, but I’m not gonna do any surgery. It’s not something I want to rush into because I know what my body feels like and what it can do.”

His passion for music: “It’s something I could pursue. My brother is a music teacher and he’s also a writer, but it’s something I can [also] do. But if you want to get me to perform a song you have to give me like a month in advance to prepare mentally for it. (Laughs). Sometimes I get very shy.”

Supermodel potential:
“I’ve definitely thought about modelling. I need an agent. So, yeah, I’ll get into that. It’s something that’s very possible since everyone thinks I’m so sexy. (Laughs).

When he’s happiest:
“When I’m sitting around a steering, that’s when I’m most happy. And if it’s [a fast car] I’ll have a big smile on my face. Cars are my love.”

Single or seeing someone special?: “I’m in a relationship with God.”

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THE TALLAWAH QUESTIONNAIRE: Cover girl ETANA riffs on fashion, family and facing the advancing years

GLOW ON: The singer and the light of her life.

Three things you can't live without:

I-pad, my phone, and diary.

Latest fashion purchase:
A Tarnish handbag.

Your travel essentials include:

Travel-size toothbrush and toothpaste for the plane, hand sanitizer, wipes, deodorant, hand rag, a quick fix for Mother Nature’s surprises, if any. Face wash, aspirin, anti-clotting socks for really long flights, all my Mac makeup, passport, earphones, and my I-Pad.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Wow, haven't gotten there yet. But one of them so far is seeing thousands of people from all over the globe sing the songs I have written word for word, especially the children.

Something that makes (or made) you cry:
Singing the songs “Free” and “I Got You.” I wrote “I Got You” for my mother and grandmother. I always wish I could have one more day with my grandmother in the flesh, but I have her in spirit and the memories sometimes get me emotional. With the song “Free” many people can relate.

Who are your heroes in real life?
My son, my husband, my mother.

What is it that you most dislike?
I don't like the pretentious, hypocritical side of people. I still don't get why they smile and talk up to people knowing they really don't like them. How annoying!

What is the quality that you most like in others?
I like the frank and bold but respectful.

What is your biggest career challenge?
Having them see me more as an artist and not just a female. Professional or not, a promoter may feel he has the right to break the rules ’cause I’m female.

How do you feel about getting older?
I want to find it in me always to age gracefully. Accepting every curve, every line, every wrinkle, every last gray when they start to appear. I will be beautiful in every way. Pretty enough for me.

>> PART I: Etana balances marriage, motherhood and career

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BITS & PIECES: Mission Catwalk’s Gregory Williams aiming for new creative heights

STYLE & SUBSTANCE: With only four months to go, fashion whiz kid Gregory Williams (Season 2 winner of Mission Catwalk) says he has big plans for the rest of the year. “I will be showcasing some sample pieces at SoHo for [Fashion’s Night Out]. It's just a taste of what I will be unveiling at my December show in London,” he dishes to the Style Observer, even as he laments the state of fashion here at home. “I think we need persons in the government to take the fashion industry more seriously. A lot of people want to take the risk of pursuing fashion designing, but we cannot do it alone. I think we should have a show like Fashion Police to show what people are wearing, educate and explain how to interpret trends. The stores would definitely sell more clothes.”
PLAY ON: Spurred by the megasuccess that was Acts of the Apostles, Father HoLung and Friends are set to bring another big-budget musical to the Kingston stage in the form of The Messiah come next month. Aiming to deliver a winning mélange of soul-stirring tunes, passionate messages, and stunning visual effects, the show will unfold inside the National Arena, Sep. 29-30 and Oct. 6-7. “This year, The Messiah is breaking new ground with special effects like Jamaica has never seen before,” reveals HoLung. “This Jamaica-50 production is dedicated to the nation and truly reflects Jamaica in its true colours.”
is looking east. The ascendant reggae star heads to Asia in September for ‘The System Japan Tour 2012’ in promotion of his sophomore album. The tour is being endorsed by the renowned Japanese sound-system selectors of Mighty Crown, in association with RaggaChina.

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TOO HOT FOR TV: Konshens and Leftside catch heat over explicit new music video

ADULT CONTENT: Leftside (right), Konshens and a friend.

Konshens and Leftside have been very naughty boys. The dancehall duo’s NSFW visual for their sex-charged track “Clap Dat Booty” – an orgy of strip-club flesh and frolic – has set off a fierce firestorm over what is acceptable and not acceptable as far as entertainment in the public domain goes.

The dissenting comments, particularly those expressed via social media, have ranged from ‘What were they thinking?’ to ‘This video is demeaning to women.’ The way I see it, though, these days Konshens and Leftside are completely in the throes of pushing the so-called boundaries while redefining themselves as entertainers (and individuals). And, quite naturally, they are bound to make creative missteps along the way.

But the primary point I want to make is the fact that while it is fully within an artiste’s power to release a visual aimed at adult-only audiences (in the tradition of shows like BET Uncut) that piece of creative expression won’t strike a pleasant chord with all onlookers.

Meantime, stemming from the fallout over the clip (which graphically depicts eye-popping action inside a dimly lit exotic club), a safe-sex/condom PSA starring Konshens has been pulled from rotation on local TV. Apparently, his involvement with “Clap Dat Booty” has been deemed to be at odds with the commercial’s core message of sexual responsibility.

So in light of such recent developments, how will Konshens – a deejay in his prime and at the top of his game – be perceived from hereon? Well, he’ll be the first to tell you that he’s simply a young man keeping it real. “If you’re surprised, or if you were a fan of the pretty, nice boy, I think you’re going down the wrong road. [I’m not] the clean, pretty, nice boy that you think. It’s a regular yout’ [doing] regular people things,” the flame-haired star tells the Entertainment Report. “I have to be real, 100 percent, because my career is about me being real.”

>> If you must (and are over 18), watch the video HERE.

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SEPTEMBER BOOK PICKS: Buzzworthy new releases from Zadie Smith and Junot Díaz

PLEASURE PRINCIPLES: “[It] exhibits the potent blend of literary eloquence and street cred that earned him a Pulizer Prize. Díaz’s prose is vulgar, brave, and poetic.” That is precisely how O Magazine praises Dominican Junot Díaz’s latest effort, This Is How You Lose Her, a story collection that examines the haunting, impossible power of love. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness – and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses, including the love of his life, whose heartbreak ultimately becomes his own. According to Publisher’s Weekly, it’s “searing, sometimes hilarious, and always disarming.”

THE LIVES OF OTHERS: Bestselling author Zadie Smith, whose canon includes White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty, and the essay collection Changing My Mind, returns to bookstores this September with the brilliant, tragicomic NW, her new novel which chronicles four Londoners – Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan – as they try to make adult lives outside of Caldwell, the council estate of their childhood. Their London is a complicated place, as beautiful as it is brutal, where the thoroughfares hide the back alleys and taking the high road can sometimes lead you to a dead end. “[NW] is a triumph,” raves The Guardian. “As Smith threads together her characters' inner and outer worlds, every sentence sings.”

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Saturday, 25 August 2012

ON THE SCENE: Cherine + Yohan Blake + PM Portia Simpson-Miller + Oral Tracey + Lin Jinzao + Sheryl Lee Ralph

LADY IN RED: Aug. 23, New York. Actress and activist Sheryl Lee Ralph films a scene for her upcoming multiple-episode arc on Season 2 of NBC's hit musical drama Smash. Ralph plays Cynthia, the mother of a successful Broadway star, played by fellow Dreamgirl Jennifer Hudson. Smash's second season kicks off on Sept. 17. (Photo: Zimbio)

TIME OUT: Aug 23, St. Andrew. Enjoying the company of a Rough Rider chick, Sports Commentary's Oral Tracey flashes a quick smile for the camera at Stir It Up Thursdays, held at Raffaele's Gourmet Pizzeria, Orchid Plaza. (Photo: SKKAN)

GOOD COMPANY: Aug. 17, Canada. Sporting a tropical-punch look all her own, dancehall-soul diva Cherine poses backstage (with Rockfort Rebels engineer Rorey Baker and a female guest) after delivering a crowd-rousing mainstage stint at the Salmon Arm Roots & Blues Festival, currently in its 20th year, in British Columbia. (Photo: Cherine Anderson)

HELPING HAND: Aug 21, Switzerland. Star sprinter Yohan 'The Beast' Blake, now the second-fastest man in history, assists one of his young charges during a special kids' clinic he conducted in Fribourg, a couple days before his sizzling 9.69-run in the 100M at the Lausanne Diamond League meet. (Photo:

YEAR OF THE BASKET: Aug. 24, Kingston. PM Portia Simpson-Miller presents Li Jinzao, Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce, with a gift basket shortly after their bilateral talks at Jamaica House on Friday. During the meeting, both governments signed a J$423 million grant agreement for projects that will be mutually agreed upon. Jinzao also handed over documents for a shipping container X-ray equipment to be used by the Port Authority of Jamaica. (Photo: OPM)

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