Sunday, 30 June 2013

BITS & PIECES: A hip hop-spiked new joint from Sean Paul + Nyanda nabs the solo spotlight + A steamy season ahead for local theatre

Are we witnessing the start of a Sean Paul summer? Following the recent debut of the radio banger "Other Side of Love" and the still-hot Beenie Man collabo "Greatest Gallis", SP has dropped "Entertainment," a club smash-in-the-waiting, which features hip-hop's 2 Chainz and Juicy J. The song is off the Grammy winner's upcoming sixth studio album (a fall release), which is as-yet-untitled and for which he's teamed with hitmaking producers like Maejor Ali, Six One and Young Yonny. "I always say that dancehall has become a staple of all genres of music, and I am excited to continue to show how much of an impact the music has had," says Sean Paul. "I have been a fan of 2 Chainz and Juicy J for a while and getting them together on this track made perfect sense. As always we needed to give the fans something to dance to for the summer." >> Listen to "Entertainment".

With pop-reggae duo Brick & Lace on recording hiatus, Nyanda Thorbourne is determined to show she can wow fans all on her own and bring it as a solo star. Releasing her playful, supersexy new tune "Slippery When Wet," produced by Black Lion -- accompanied by an eye-popping three-minute video -- isn't a bad way to get the party started. Full of vivid colours, an edgy wardrobe and steamy imagery, the clip is a bonafide heatseeker. >> See it for yourself HERE.

Back by popular demand? Playwright-producer David Tulloch's turbo-charged erotic thriller Risqué will be taking up summer residence at Stages Theatreplex in New Kingston as of July 12. With the temperatures soaring, the hit play certainly fits right into the cultural landscape du jour. The same goes for Jambiz's Ladies of the Night, premiering this weekend at Centrestage and Keiran King's Taboo, scheduled to open at UWI's Philip Sherlock Centre next Friday. 

Last time we checked, the planned modern-day update of The Harder They Come and the Shottas sequel were in pre-production, but that was close to a year ago. So what's the latest? Will these buzzworthy projects ever see the light of day? Stay tuned....

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GLOBAL REACH: Usain Bolt, Etana and Jamaica Youth Theatre command international attention

The JYT is up to the challenge 
The Jamaica Youth Theatre keeps racking up the awards. Months after dominating the UWI-hosted Tallawah drama festival, the troupe has emerged winners of an international competition, proving their rank among the best youth groups in the world. The JYT took first place in the recent Global Dialogue Youth Video Challenge, which invited submissions (45-second video clips exploring the theme "Young and HIV+") from around the world. Directed by Ardenne High's Jomo Dixon, the JYT's winning entry, performed by Dorian Reid and Johnique Francis, looked at the complications of disclosure and the attendant stigma associated with HIV. A 2007 recipient of the Prime Minister's Youth Award for Excellence in Art & Culture, the JYT has also represented Jamaica at such events as 2010's Contacting the World Youth Theatre Festival in Manchester, England. 

Fan Favourite: Etana hits the road for US summer tour 
Accompanied by her four-member backing band and a pair of singers in tow, songbird Etana has embarked on a multi-city US tour in support of her latest album, Better Tomorrow, promising fans the ultimate listening experience. Kicking things off in Decatur, Georgia last Thursday night (June 27), the tour will make some 20 stops spanning the midwest, northeast and western United States -- including such major concerts as the Austin Reggae Festival in Texas (August 24) and Summer Jam 2013 in Florida's West Palm Beach, the final show scheduled for September 1. 

Vote for Bolt! 
As he prepares to dazzle the world anew at this summer's World Athletic Championships in Moscow, Jamaica's Usain Bolt has been nominated for yet another major award. The 2013 ESPY nominations were announced on Thursday, and the sprinter is among the nominees up for Best International Athlete, an award he's previously won. This time around, he's vying against the likes of boxing's Juan Manuel Marquez, soccer stars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and tennis ace Novak Djokovic. Voting is now open to the public, so have your say by casting your vote for the sprinter at the ESPN website. Winners will be announced July 17. 

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OUT & ABOUT: Lensley Wolfe + Sandrea Falconer + Devon Moncrieffe + Chantal Compoaré + Julian Marley + Donna Parchment + Gary Dixon + Natalie Neita-Headley + Stephen Marley + Olivia 'Babsy' Grange + Damian Marley

THE IRON LADIES: June 26, Kingston. Last Wednesday's grand finale of 2013 Wray & Nephew Contender boxing series drew a diverse crowd to the National Indoor Sports Centre, including parliamentarians Olivia 'Babsy' Grange and Natalie Neita-Headley, who graciously posed for photographers before taking in the action ring-side. (Photo: Skkan Media)

MILLION DOLLAR BABY: June 26, Kingston. He did it! New middleweight champ Devon Moncrieffe raises his hand in triumph as he accepts his cheque valued at $1 million, after defeating Tsetsi "Lights Out" Davis in the finals of The Contender. Also pictured (from left): Jimmy Lawrence, Neita-Headley and Gary Dixon(Photo: Pro Comm)

BLACK OUT: June 27, United States. Damian Marley and the Ghetto Youths posse are set to headline the Hollywood Bowl this weekend (the first reggae acts to do so) as part of the GYT's summer engagements across the States. Above, following a show in San Diego the other night, Damian, Stephen and Julian were spotted with wheelchair-bound fan Jesse Gillauer(Photo: Damian Marley)

POLITICAL TIES: June 25, St. Andrew. Jamaica's Information minister Sandrea Falconer presents gift basket to Chantal Compoaré, First Lady of Burkina Faso, during a recent courtesy call at Jamaica House. Their talk centred on issues pertaining to gender equality, adolescent pregnancy and support programmes for teen moms. The First Lady was in the island to take a look at programmes in that area and was also presented with a copy of the National Policy for Gender Equality. (Photo: OPM)

STERLING SERVICE: June 25, St. Andrew. On the occasion of the third-anniversary celebrations of the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP), observed under the theme "Seniors on the Rise", the NCB/CCRP Living Legacy Award for Justice was presented to former Chief Justice of Jamaica, Lensley Wolfe. CCRP director Donna Parchment made the presentation during the ceremony hosted by the Chinese Benevolent Association. (Photo: Pro Comm)

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Friday, 28 June 2013

WOMAN OF HER WORD: Cherry Natural chants her way from 'Earth Woman' to 'Intellectual Bad Gal'

REBEL SPIRIT: The poet on her bold new album and being a perfectionist.

The dub poetry movement in Jamaica is in the doldrums these days, according to Cherry Natural, someone who should know, given her standing as something of a living legend. "It could have more energy," she tells TALLAWAH. "To be honest, a lot of people don't pay it any mind, and it surprises me when people who hear my work tell me that they didn't know dub poetry could be so powerful." 

With her just-released CD, Intellectual Bad Gal, recorded over the course of three months in a little studio in Kitson Town and launched on Tuesday at the Poetry Society's end-of-month fellowship at the Edna Manley College, Cherry (nee Marcia Wedderburn) feels she has a bonafide game-changer on her hands. "I feel very good about it, but I'm a perfectionist, so I've been saying the next one is going to top this one," she says of the 17-track disc laced with her fiery brand of lyrical rebel chants and clever, quasi-revolutionary rhetoric set to riddims. 

As for the story behind the album's curious title, Cherry says it's about stripping the term "intellect" of its elitist connotations and claiming it for herself and others like her. Further breaking it down, BAD, she reveals, is her very own acronym for "brave and different", with gal as a term of endearment. 

For the record, Intellectual Bad Gal is Cherry Natural's sophomore album, after 2000's Earth Woman, which helped establish her as a voice of not only rhyme and reason but serious passion and power. Also a trained martial-arts instructor with black-belt credentials, Cherry says she has high hopes for the record. "I personally believe everything has a timing," she observes, "and maybe this is the time for me to go to that next level because I've been getting a lot of love from people regarding the album." 

CHERRY'S PICKS: A self-professed reading addict, the poet singles out bell hooks, Maya Angelou and Ralph Waldo Emerson as writers she greatly admires. Khalil Gibran's The Prophet and Machiavelli's The Prince rank highly among her all-time favourite reads.

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DESIGNING WOMEN: Two uniquely gifted art-school grads look to make their mark in the wider world

A TOUCH OF MAGIC: Kerecia Bell has found her calling in fantasy art and now has the work to prove it, currently on view in the Final Year Exhibition at the School of Visual Art, Edna Manley College. Specifically, Bell's series is a compilation of Jamaican folklore elements depicted in vibrant, playful imagery, which will appear in a book she's busy preparing for publication. "It's about three siblings going to different parishes in Jamaica and figuring out different characters like the rolling calf, Anancy, and so forth," she explains. "I've always been interested in fantasy art, and I feel that Jamaica is not really on the map where that is concerned. So I would like to make us a part of that genre through my work." As for the road ahead, the 22-year-old Bell confides, "I want to continue expressing myself through art, writing more books and illustrating for publishing companies." 

OLD PRO: Twenty-three year-old graphic designer Kristina Heppell has a soft spot for the elderly. "[They] are a forgotten bunch in society, and I think that as youths we definitely need to pay attention 'cause they do have a lot to offer," explains Heppell, a regular freelancer with a flair for designing logos and whose final year exhibit at the Edna Manley College is an attention-grabbing series of images depicting Jamaicans in golden age, acquaintances and strangers included. "So this display is basically giving them some attention and creating awareness." Looking ahead to life after college, all she wants to do is continue producing work that will not only be appreciated and stand the test of time but also attract potential employers. "Design is something that is always in demand," she says, "so I plan to continue doing that and hopefully get a steady job."

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AMERICA UNDER ATTACK: An over-the-top premise aside, White House Down delivers tall action and explosive thrills

DEEP COVER: Tatum (as Cale) and Foxx (as President Sawyer).

Roland Emmerich, the director who helmed the now iconic Independence Day (a sequel is in the works) loves blowing stuff up. Now he's set his sights on the home of the US President, no less, which makes for a riveting focal point in White House Down, a far-fetched tale of treason and intrigue but ultimately a watchable, edge-of-your-seat action thriller. 

You don't have to be conversant with the finer details of the plot to grasp that enemies of the state are on the loose in this solidly acted, deliberately paced film, and before long the Commander-in-Chief himself (Jamie Foxx) is literally caught in the crossfire. 

Channing Tatum is the movie's noble hero John Cale, a likeable Everyman employed as a security detail for the Secretary of State but eyeing a heftier role in the Secret Service. As fate would have it, he faces the ultimate test when an explosion inside the White House sets off a life-and-death, panic-inducing sequence of events, made all the more harrowing and personal when Cale's bright young daughter (Joey King) is among those taken hostage by the ruthless terrorists. 

Solid performances come from the star-packed cast, not least among them Foxx (extremely Obama-esque) and Tatum (fast developing an impressive body of work) who together share a fine chemistry that goes a long in keeping things buoyant. Given that I enjoy almost everything they appear in, Maggie Gyllenhaal (as a dedicated presidenial liasion), Richard Jenkins (as the defense secretary) and James Woods (a retiring White House stalwart) bring class and conviction to what could have been thankless roles. 

But in the end, Emmerich's well-choreographed, dizzying action sequences are what emerge as the real showstoppers, which like the film itself, are equal parts terrifying and thrilling. Tyrone's Verdict: B

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Thursday, 27 June 2013

CHECK IT OUT: Four things we're buzzing about right now and into the weekend

VIDEO: Sprint icon Usain Bolt and sponsors PUMA are quite the productive dream team, regularly joining forces to promote new and exciting products. Their latest collaboration involves PUMA Cell (a system designed to make it easy for customers to understand the benefits of their performance products), for which Bolt appears in a new 2-minute ad spot, which premiered online recently. Watch it HERE. Added bonus: The charming sportsman shows how he makes his work fun in this humorous behind-the-scenes clip

TV: "We are so excited," offers Emprezz Golding, referring to the brand-new season (the third) of Talk Up Yout', which premieres on TV J next Tuesday. "[This season], we are attacking 13 more youth issues we have not yet addressed." As with the past two seasons, the show and its endearing hostess take seriously the mission of shattering the silence and providing Jamaican youngsters with guidance/counselling and enlightening discussions on everything from bullying to self-esteem to safe sex while unearthing real solutions. 

ART: One of the key events on this week's Kingston on the Edge (KOTE) schedule, Last Sundays at the National Gallery of Jamaica (Ocean Boulevard) promises an entertaining and thought-provoking package (from 11am to 3pm), complete with free guided tours of the permanent collections and the new Explorations exhibit (Natural Histories), as well as a special dance performance by Neila Ebanks (choreographed by O'Neil Pryce), followed by a screening of Dickie Jobson's iconic plane-crash-rescue film Countryman

SPORTS: In a hardly surprising outcome, Devon Moncrieffe is the new middleweight boxing champion of Jamaica, following his (split-decision) victory in the ring over Tsetsi Davis during the epic finale of the Wray & Nephew Contender series inside the National Indoor Sports Centre on Wednesday night. "I just have to give God thanks," Moncrieffe told reporters afterwards, "and gwaan do some more hard work." Third-place went to Ramel "Sub-Zero" Lewis.

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LEGAL BRIEFS: A new twist in the Buju Banton case + Jody-Ann Gray's rare court appearance

Her day in court 
After more than a year, the headline-snagging Jody-Ann Gray saga is finally nearing closure. Fomer broadcaster Wayne Whyte and his co-accused Safari Farr are to be sentenced on July 5 stemming from their guilty pleas to gun charges arising from the chilling attack on Gray in April 2012. On Wednesday, Gray was presented in court for the hearing by the prosecution, who brought her into the island from her overseas-based home. The journalist, who worked at KOOL FM, was shot in the face and neck as she arrived home in Cedar Grove, Portmore on the night in question. At the time she was seven months pregnant with Whyte's child, which she delivered at hospital earlier this year. 

The more things change 
The latest entry in the Buju Banton files: Earlier this week, a US district judge threw out a gun-possession charge against the embattled entertainer arising from his two-year-old drug case. According to reports, the charge would have given the Grammy winner an additional five years behind bars. At the same time, while gun charge has been dismissed, Buju's drug conviction still stands.

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SCENE & HEARD: Michael Anthony Cuffe + Dustin Brown + Trescott Myers + Jerry D

PICTURE THIS: June 22, Kingston. Trescott Myers of Snap Dat Photography holds up his winning photo, which took the Jamaica Yellow Pages Click The Cover competition and currently adorns the latest edition of the business telephone directory. For his stunning work, Myers was awarded a cheque valued at $100,000 during a presentation last week at the Fiction club. (Photo: Snap Dat Photography)

TAILOR MADE: June 22, Kingston. Impeccably turned out in an elegant suit that nicely complements his velvet baritone, Michael Anthony Cuffe Sr. guides the proceedings at the recent Jamaica Yellow Pages Click the Cover competition prize presentation inside the Fiction Club at Marketplace. (Photo: Snap Dat Photography)

TEAM WORK: June 22, St. Ann. The Turtle River Park in Ocho Rios was the breezy setting for last Saturday's north-coast leg of the JN General Insurance Perfect 10 road show, where enthusiastic customers won prizes and one lucky person earned a year's worth of free insurance. Here, RJR's resident vibemaster (and TALLAWAH cover star) Jerry D strikes a pose with ladies representing the JNGI family. (Photo: JN General Insurance)

NET GAINS: June 26, England. Jamaican tennis player Dustin Brown, who now competes professionally for Germany, reacts during his thrilling third-round Wimbledon match-up (which he won) against former world-number-one, Australia's Lleyton Hewitt, at the All-England Club in London on Wednesday. "I cried like a little girl," Brown said after his big win, "just happy and emotional and everything."(Photo:

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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

IN SIGHT: The Floyd Morris story is one of perseverance and keeping a bright outlook

FRAME OF MIND: "If we dig deep in our reserves we can overcome any challenge that confronts us." Below, the senator takes part in the Best Dressed 5K Run at Hope Gardens in March.

He runs four to five miles each day, plays dominoes, and currently serves as the President of the Jamaican Senate. Yet he's never laid eyes on a single thing since 1989, when he lost his sight completely, at the age of 20. But never his vision of what he could achieve and make of himself. To say the least, Floyd Morris has risen above considerable odds to become a shining example of determination and perseverance in the face of adversity. Sitting down with Profile's Ian Boyne last Sunday, Morris spoke at length about overcoming the trauma of going totally blind at a young age, side-stepping fear and poverty, his mission to serve the disabled community, and how he met his bright and beautiful wife. 

On the shattering glaucoma diagnosis in his teens: When I reached the ninth grade I started to develop problems in terms of my sight and the grades started to plummet. People were wondering what was happening, but they weren't making the connection to the difficulty in terms of my sight. Some individuals in the society don't understand that these things impact on the ability of the individual to perform. And that's part of the thing that has given me the passion and virtual crusade to get the education system in Jamaica more responsive to the needs of persons with disabilities.... I give God thanks that he has guided me to the point where I can influence some of these policy decisions. 

On coping with the loss of his sight in those early days: I was diagnosed with the glaucoma at age 14 and was blind six years after at age 20.... It was really a traumatic period for me because, as I tell people, when you have somebody who is born blind, they don't know what the world looks like; that's their norm. But I was born sighted and then lost my sight in the prime of my life, and so it was very traumatic.... I was depressed but it never reached a point where I said I was going to take my life. 
On rising above the fear and uncertainty and ultimately poverty: I am an arch-enemy of poverty, and when I got blind poverty was staring me right in my face like a man staring down the barrel of a gun. And it horrified me.... because blindness and disability in Jamaica, and globally too, is a poverty sentence, and I said that it was not going to restrict me for the rest of my life. So one of the things I did was to start getting myself occupied by raising chickens 'cause I had to find some means of economic survival.... God has created each and everyone one of us with a beautiful body and mind, and if we dig deep in our reserves we can overcome any challenge that confronts us. 

On his home life today and his happy marriage: My wife is a very bright young lady. For me, as a blind man, I wouldn't have known that she's beautiful, so what I have to go by is the sound of her voice and how articulate she is. She taught me at my Sabbath School, and I would get into her mind. And after I learned that she was single I decided to make my move. She is well accomplished, done her Masters.... The marriage is wonderful. I couldn't be happier. My friends tell me that I've only dated beautiful women, and they believe I am peeping (Laughs). But I tell them that the sighted says seeing is believing, but the blind man says feeling is knowing.

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CATCH THE BUZZ: Gov't sets aside $25 million for prostate cancer research + Camille Davis heads back to the stage in Patrick Brown's latest

ACTING OUT: She's back! After a lengthy self-imposed hiatus, during which she gave birth to her first child, actress Camille Davis is poised to make her eagerly awaited return to the boards this summer. Davis will be co-starring in Ladies of the Night, the latest work by prolific playwright Patrick Brown, opening at the Centrestage Theatre in New Kingston next month. What's the play about? "Anything that comes to your mind after hearing the name is probably exactly what it is," she tells her Facebook family. "This is gonna be a great one. A lot of eye candy for the gentleman." Ladies of the Night co-stars Sakina Deer, Sharee McDonald-Russell and Keisha Patterson

LIFE-SAVING NEWS: Jamaica's health ministry has pledged some 25 million dollars to advance prostate cancer research and develop a study over the course of the next five years. Health minister Dr. Fenton Ferguson made the announcement as he addressed the 35th Annual General Meeting of the Jamaica Medical Foundation at the Knutsford Court Hotel recently. "For us, in Jamaica, there is no culture of research," Ferguson said. "It is always important for anything you do to be evidence-based, and it is to that extent that research becomes so very important in how we go forward." The minister pointed out, too, that the study is expected to go a far way in advancing treatment and preventative measures in Jamaica and, hopefully, the wider Caribbean. At present, Jamaica has one of the highest rates of prostate cancer diagnoses in the world, with over 150 men diagnosed each year.

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CULTURE NIGHT OUT: From music to fine art to spoken word, TALLAWAH's Tuesday was a cultural flourish

TALENT SHOW: This year's JCDC Festival of the Performing Arts competition takes on added significance, given that the venerable cultural commission is this year marking its 50th anniversary of sterling service to the arts and the country at large. The National Finals are on in earnest at the Little Theatre this week, and on Tuesday evening I sat in on presentations by finalists vying for prizes in the field of music (instrumental). The packed auditorium didn't skimp on the applause for the pint-sized talents, who truly wowed with their impressive drumming in the categories of group and solo. The Sts. Peter & Paul Prep ensemble (above) and nine-year-old Mario Hudson of the Institute of Jamaica were particularly delightful standouts. 

VISUAL FLAIR: As part of the week-long Kingston on the Edge (KOTE) festivities, the Final Year exhibition at the Edna Manley College's School of Visual Art took over the spotlight on Tuesday, drawing scores of new and repeat viewers to see the fascinating works on display and no doubt pick the brains of the young artists, many of whom are poised to enter the world of work for the very first time. Above, illustrator/graphic designer and soon-to-be-published author Kerecia Bell (read more about her in TALLAWAH later this week) stands next to one of her fantasy-art creations. 

POETS UNITE: Every last Tuesday, the Poetry Society of Jamaica's fellowship brings together aspiring (and a few established) writers, poets, dub poets and spoken-word artists to read/perform their work and receive feedback. This much-needed creativity outlet is still very much alive as witnessed this week at society's regular haunt of the Edna Manley College's drama school ampitheatre. Soulful, introspective verse and lyrics of defiance and provocation ruled the open-mic segment, which set the stage for the night's featured performer: the ever-fiery and captivating Cherry Natural. Pictured above, nine-year-old Jahzan McLaughlin, seriously one to watch, takes centrestage.

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