Sunday, 31 March 2013

OUT & ABOUT: Michael Frater + Kes + Warren Weir + Asafa Powell + Kamila McDonald + Daniel Bailey + Usain Bolt

RISE & SHINE: Mar. 31, Brazil. The World's Fastest Man salutes the crowd atop the medal podium following the Mano a Mano 150 m race at the Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday afternoon. The Olympic champ needed only 14.42 seconds to win the race ahead of challengers Daniel Bailey of Antigua, Ecuador's Alex Quinonez and Bruno de Barros of Brazil. (Photo: Getty Images)

SIGN ME UP: Mar. 30, Australia. After running in  Heat 11 of the Australia Post Stawell Gift during the 2013 Stawell Gift carnival at Central Park on Saturday, Asafa Powell spends a few minutes signing autographs for young local fans. Earlier in the week, Powell almost cancelled his plans to compete due to an injury scare, but he seems to have recovered well. (Photo: Getty Images)

THINK PINK: Mar. 27, St. Andrew. Joining gorgeous hostess Kamila McDonald for a photo-op, Olympians and Racers Track Club teammates Michael Frater (right) and Warren Weir step out in support of the weekly boxing series, The Contender, at the Hope Road-based Chinese Benevolent Association. (Photo: STUSH)

HAT TRICK: Mar. 27, St. Andrew. Soca monarch Kes, who is currently in the throes of bacchanal season, also put in an appearance at Wednesday's staging of The Contender, posing here with sweet-faced Foska chick Ecinaj Nembhard(Photo: STUSH)

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FOUR FOR THE ROAD: Make room in your collection for these buzzworthy new releases

On April 30, Junior Kelly, one of reggae's quiet forces, will release his 10th solo album, Piece of The Pie. The 15-track effort, produced by Anthony Senior, brings collaborations with Lion Face, Smiley and Mark Wonder. Through his music, Kelly has always fought for social justice, economic equality and freedom for all. As such, he feels everyone deserves a Piece of The Pie

Returning to the spirit-lifting real of reggae gospel, seasoned crooner Sanchez will drop his inspirational album Giving Praises [Live] on April 23. Executive produced by Jason Sterling of JASFAR Records, the entire set was recorded live and mixed at the Church of Fort Lauderdale and features everything from soulful R&B to reggae and is balanced with soothing gospel-tinged cuts. 

Finally! Supertalented singer, songwriter and musician Bryan Art, known for penning songs for the likes of Etana, Luciano and George Nooks, will debut his own self-titled album via Altafaan Records on April 16. The Firehouse Crew member and bandleader for Bushman's backing band steps out on this 12-track solo effort, which delivers collabos with such heavyhitters as Capleton and Queen Ifrica. 
Ahead of his hotly anticipated sophomore record, Hotel Room, dancehall star Konshens will whet appetites with the May release of a live DVD highlighting his epic 2012 performance in Uganda, where he was greeted by a 25, 000-strong audience. The DVD, out from VP Records, follows his critically acclaimed solo disc, Mental Maintenance, released early last year. Hotel Room, meanwhile, is set to arrive sometime later this year.

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GROWING PAINS: Two coming-of-age films illuminate the complex dynamics of race and family

MY SON IS NOT MY SON: Directed by Lorraine Lévy, Le Fils de L'Autre (The Other Son) is a moving and thought-provoking French tale of two young men -- Joseph (an Israeli) and the other, Yacine, a Palestinian -- who discover they were accidentally switched at birth, touching off a series of complicated repercussions while raising questions about hospital negligence and the true meaning of family, while elucidating the complex, long-standing conflicts between the Israelis and Palestinians. The actors, particularly the young leads Jules Sidruk and Mehdi Dehbi, are wonderful, elevating this humane and surprisingly hopeful film into a compelling and emotional exploration of the many facets of self-identity, race, class and family. One of the best foreign films of the past year. [French with English subtitles. 110 minutes]. B+

THY BROTHER'S KEEPER: The idea that blood is thicker than water is the adrenaline that fuels My Brother The Devil, an athletically gritty and loose-limbed film about two Egyptian brothers, Rashid (James Floyd) and Mo (Fady Elsayed), grappling with growing pains, drugs, gang violence and sexuality in the rough-and-tumble neighbourhood of Hackney, one of London's most ethnically-mixed and historically volatile neighborhoods. Headed on a collision course of conflicting desires, each young man is forced to face himself and confront the brother he thought he knew. It marks an engrossing debut from director Sally El Hosaini, and is as authentic, emotionally complex and powerfully acted as any film you'll see this year. Unsurprisingly, it has won multiple awards, including at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, the 2012 Berlin International Film Festival and the Grand Jury Award at LA Outfest. [English. 111 minutes]. A-

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Friday, 29 March 2013

THE NEW GIRL: As one of theatre's freshest faces, Shanique Brown shines

FACE VALUE: "I hope to bring realness and freshness to theatre."

Starring as the heroine Oya in Tarell McCraney's In The Red and Brown Water (returning to the Pantry next weekend), Shanique Brown brings to life an extraordinarily gifted young woman caught between two handsome men pining for her affection. 

But, as Brown makes abundantly clear, that's the closest she's ever come to being involved in any form of scandalous love-triangle in her personal life. "That's never happened to me before. Not at all," she tells TALLAWAH, laughing. "I approach relationships cautiously. Very, very cautiously. I'm very selective of the persons that I allow close to me. It has to do with the personalities because I always try to stay out of trouble." 

These days, as one of Jamaica's on-the-rise female thespians, Brown is having no trouble demonstrating that she's an actress possessed of intelligence, admirable range and emotional generosity. As the conflicted Oya, Brown simply shines. "It has been my most challenging role to date," confesses the Kingston native, who previously appeared in 2011's Hairpeace, "because she's younger than me and I'm used to playing women who are much older than myself or somewhat closer to my age." 

Speaking of age, the Ardenne High alum turns 21 this Saturday. But from as far back as she can remember, she knew she wanted a life on the stage. "I've always loved acting and the performing arts," she says. "Ardenne basically set the stage for me. It's through Ardenne and Suzanne Beadle that I met (director) Fabian Thomas." 

As for her daily life, Brown is currently enrolled as a second-year Literatures in English major at UWI Mona, but is eyeing a switch to Entertainment Management or a transfer to the School of Drama at the Edna Manley College. And when it comes to her future and her ambition to help change the industry, Brown is certain of what she's bringing to Jamaica's theatre landscape. "I hope to bring realness and freshess," she says, "and learn as much as I can from the people I look up to, like Nadean Rawlins."

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GLOBAL STARS: Asafa Powell delighting in Australia, Usain Bolt is a major hit in Brazil

NUMBERS GAME: Bolt and Lazaroni in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Thursday.

This Easter holiday has turned out to be quite a superbusy period for two of Jamaica's iconic track superstars, Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell, who are making their presence felt (in their trademark fun-loving styles!) with exploits overseas.

First up is the World's Fastest Man who has flown to Brazil to take part in the Mano a Mano 150 M race challenge in Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro. Since landing in the pristine South American country, Bolt has visited the Futuro Olimpico (or Olympic future) project alongside Antigua's Daniel Bailey, tested his soccer skills and bonded with some of the local kids and future track stars. Above, the Jamaican Olympic gold medallist Bolt smiles with a book about Maracana Stadium after a news conference to present the 'Mano a Mano' challenge at the Windsor Atlantica, sharing share lens time with Andre Lazaroni, Sports secretary of Rio de Janeiro.
Meantime, Asafa Powell's Australian sojourn so far has included attending a Stawell Gift media call at Grandstand Oval on Wednesday in Melbourne where he raced with local children sponsored by McDonald's. Powell, who will be running in the 2013 Qantas Melbourne World Challenge, slated for April 6, jetted into Melbourne on Tuesday morning, and later kicked off preparations for the big race, which will take place at the Lakeside Stadium in Albert Park. Powell, who has run 9.72sec in the 100m, also faced the local media in Melbourne on Wednesday afternoon for a running sequence of interviews.

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BEST IN SHOW: Ruined, Pularchie win big at Actor Boy Awards

CLASS ACTS: Anderson (left) and Barrett, with Alwyn Scott.

Some of the most outstanding productions and performers in Jamaican theatre in the past year were celebrated in Kingston last Monday, March 25, when the 2013 Actor Boy Awards were held inside the Little Theatre. Among the night's big awards: 

Best Production 
Ruined, Edna Manley College's School of Drama 

Best Director 
Eugene Williams, Ruined 

Best Actor in a Lead Role 
Donald Anderson, Stanley, Fay, Pularchie & P 

Best Actress in a Lead Role 
Risanne Martin, Ruined 

Best Actor in a Supporting Role 
Winston Bell, Old Story Time 

Best Actress in a Supporting Role 
Suzette Barrett, Stanley, Fay, Pularchie & P 

Best Drama 
Ruined, Edna Manley College's School of Drama 

Best New Jamaican Play 
God's Way 2: Carlton's Redemption, DMH Productions 

Best Original Score 
Skoolaz, LTM National Pantomime 

Best Comedy 
Glass Slippaz, Jambiz International

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A FAMILY AFFAIR: Maya Angelou explores her complicated relationship with her mother

MOMMIE DEAREST: The author chronicles a deeply personal aspect of her life.

Maya Angelou’s extraordinary life has been chronicled in her bestselling autobiographies like I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Finally, though, the legendary author is opening up about the deepest personal story of her life: her relationship with her mother. For the first time, the celebrated author and poet reveals the triumphs and struggles of being the daughter of Vivian Baxter, an indomitable spirit but a presence absent during much of Angelou's early life. 

As it happens, Baxter sent three-year-old Maya and her older brother away from their California home to live with their grandma in Arkansas when her marriage began to crumble. The ensuing feelings of abandonment stayed with Maya for years but their reunion, a decade later, began a story that she's now ready to share. 

In Mom & Me & Mom (out April 2 from Random House), Angelou dramatizes her reconciliation with Baxter (whom she prefers to simply call “Lady”), revealing the profound moments that shifted the balance of love and respect between them. "It's the latest, and most potent, of her serial autobiographies...[a] tough-minded, tender-hearted addition to Angelou’s spectacular canon," notes Elle Magazine, while Essence calls it “mesmerizing...Angelou has a way with words that can still dazzle us." Per Publisher's Weekly, "the lessons and the love presented here will speak to those trying to make their way in the world." 
BRAWTA: The cover image of Christopher John Farley's buzzworthy fantasy-adventure novel, Game World, arriving in February 2014 via Akashic Books. "I was thinking it would be great to write a sort of fantasy novel for kids that draws on the myths and legends of the Caribbean," saya Farley, "things like duppies and rolling calfs and all the kinds of creatures that are in our mythology that we grew up with and that our grandparents told us stories about. So this is a book about that. Look out for it. It's gonna be terrific."

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Thursday, 28 March 2013

NEW MUSIC REVIEW: Press play on these sizzlers from India.Arie, John Legend, Konshens and Raine Seville

Konshens and Raine Seville 
"Sekkle Dung" 
Produced by: Dre Day Productions 
Two of dancehall's most photogenic and lyrically astute young stars make a clever pairing on this brash and hypersensual duet while keeping it hella real about female sexual prowess and the art of satisfaction. Parring over a slinky beat, Konshens offers a slick and supersly verse while Raine capably keeps pace with her whispery hook and a naughty verse of her own. A bonafide hit! Take a listen HERE. B+  

John Legend 
"The Beginning" 
Produced by: Hit-Boy 
Recalling his most hypnotic R&B ballads, this radio-ready track finds the multiple Grammy winner exploring such familiar themes as longing and the freshness of that crazy-in-love feeling in his signature engaging croon. And what an ear-pleasing delight! Legend's next album, Love in the Future, arrives later this year. Take a listen HERE. B+  

"Cocoa Butter" 
Produced by: Arie and Shannon Sanders 
Soothing and honey-tinged with that pure chilled-out vibe, it marks India's first new tune in four years, and the first single off her keenly awaited fifth studio album, SongVersation, due out June 25. If this first single is any reliable indicator, fans will be far from disappointed when the new record drops. Take a listen HERE. B+ 

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NEWS & NOTES: Jamaica's Whycliffe Cameron is new WICB president + Ardenne High are 2013 SCQ champions!

BEST OF THE BEST: The brilliant all-male team of Ardenne High were crowned 2013 champions as the curtains came down on the 44th season of TV J's Schools' Challenge Quiz on Wednesday. The St. Andrew-based Ardenne fended off a spirited challenge from Portland's Titchfield High, who were making their third consecutive appearance in the SCQ grand finals. Ardenne won 39-33 to claim the championship trophy and a stash of other attractive prizes. Kingston College defeated perennial rivals Calabar High (this year's winners of Boys' Champs) in the third-place playoff. Some 64 schools took part in this year's competition. Above, Gary Allen of the RJR Group presents the championship trophy to Keenan Falconer, captain of the winning team. 

HIGHER OFFICE: Following elections held in Barbados on Tuesday, Jamaica's Whycliffe ‘Dave’ Cameron (left) is the new President of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB). Cameron's running mate, Emmanuel Nanthan of Dominica, is the new vice-president. "As we take over the reins of the WICB," said Cameron, 42, "we assume responsibility with very lofty goals in our minds and the understanding of the reason we are here and what everybody in the region is looking forward to us being able to accomplish." In a congratulatory message, PM Portia Simpson-Miller said Jamaica and the region expects that under Cameron's watch regional cricket will chart a new course of development and success. "With our long history of excellence, you now have the opportunity to build on this legacy for the greater good of the sport and cricket-loving fans around the world," Simpson-Miller said. "I have every confidence that the process and development of West Indies cricket will benefit from your talent, passion and considerable experience."

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OUT & ABOUT: Nadine Malloy + Rev. Glen Archer + Yasuo Takase + Yendi Phillipps + Ardenne High's quiz team + Asafa Powell + PM Portia Simpson-Miller

BIG SKY: Mar. 27, Australia. Jamaica's Asafa Powell and two-time Australia Post Stawell Gift winner Joshua Ross pose for the media during a Stawell Gift media call at the Grandstand Oval on Wednesday in Melbourne. Powell is currently in the Oceanic country to compete in a series of races, including the Australia Post Stawell Gift and then the 2013 Qantas Melbourne World Challenge on April 6 at the Lakeside Stadium in Albert Park. (Photo: Getty Images)

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: Mar. 24, St. Andrew. PM Portia Simpson-Miller engages new Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica, H.E. Yasuo Takase, during a recent courtesy call at Jamaica House. The two had wide-ranging talks on the development assistance given to Jamaica over the years, Japan’s candidacy for the 2020 Olympic Games, and Japan’s interest in a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. Meanwhile, the PM thanked Japan for the development assistance to Jamaica, and mention was also made of the historic Red Mud Pilot Plant Project being piloted by Japanese company, Nippon Light Metals. Japan and Jamaica will mark 50 years of diplomatic relations in 2014. (Photo: OPM)

HEAD OF THE CLASS: Mar. 27, Kingston. With their students vying for top honours in the grand finals of the 2013 Schools' Challenge Quiz competition, proud principals Nadine Malloy (St. Andrew-based Ardenne High) and Richard Thompson (Portland's Titchfield High) share a photo-op with Digicel marketing intern Nakeena Ellington outside the TV J Studios. (Photo: Digicel)

TALENT SHOW: Mar. 28, Kingston. It was a morning of celebration on TV J's Smile Jamaica, as Ardenne High's victorious Schools' Challenge Quiz team stopped by the set to dish on their triumph and the competition's just-concluded 44th season. Here, host Yendi Phillipps poses with team members Keenan Falconer (captain), Dontae Drummond, Akeem Evans and Horace Facey, along with coaches Danlee Wadsworth and Rev. Glen Archer(Photo: Smile Jamaica)

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Wednesday, 27 March 2013

BEAUTY OF THE WEEK: Cathi Levy on managing her stress, growing things, and her proudest moments

STAYING POWER: "The reward is just icing on the cake." (Below, with Nikki Barbar at the Red Bones launch of Imagine)

You can't get Cathi Levy's brand of ageless beauty, but you can come dangerously close. Just follow her tried-and-proven formula for staying eternally fit, fabulous, and young at heart. "Manage your stress," she tells TALLAWAH, flipping back her long and lustrous mane to let out a hearty laugh. "I hand it all to the Father, and I keep on trusting that he will see me through." 

These days, stress management is certainly coming in handy for the legendary theatre maven and Miss Jamaica World 1983, as she gets set to debut her latest labour-of-love project, Imagine, a never-before-seen theatrical marvel that promises to dazzle and delight patrons when it opens in Kingston next month. Given her mile-a-minute stamina and huge workload (not to mention the decades she's already poured into Jamaica's performing-arts scene), we had to ask: How does she do it? 

TALLAWAH: Cathi, you continue to re-define what it means to put on show while pushing the limits and inspiring Jamaicans, young and old, along the way. What keeps you going? 
Levy: My love for the theatre. My love for working with young people. And there's so much that falls under the umbrella of theatre. It's about making an audience happy. Transporting them for the few hours that you're fortunate to have them. And making a difference in people's lives. When people see the production, their lives must be touched. That keeps me going. Also the support of team members, family and friends who always have your back. 

You've been a national beauty queen, performing-arts entrepreneur, activist, icon and inspiration. How do you feel about your life at this point? 
I'm incredibly humbled. And I'm especially proud of the accomplishments of the young people who have gone through Teen Players Club and the Cathi Levy Players. They continue to shine, and not only in the performing arts but in all aspects of life. And they make me proud, so that's definitely a huge accomplishment for me. At this stage, though, I enjoy sitting back and watching them do the work. (Laughs). 

So you're ready to take on a more behind-the-scenes kind of role, so to speak. 
I'm trying to. (Laughs). 
This past Monday, you were presented with a special lifetime achievement award by the International Theatre Institute (Jamaica Chapter). Were you thrilled, anxious, nervous about the huge moment? 
I was very humbled by that, and very deeply appreciative. As I said [at the awards], when you do what you love doing, to be rewarded for that is just icing on the cake. It's very special. 

What are your guilty pleasures? How does Cathi Levy unwind? 
I love growing things. I have a little farm right outside my house, and I grow vegetables and herbs, and that makes me happy. I also love rescuing animals.

>> Read more: Creative team and sponsors launch Imagine

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