Saturday, 31 August 2013

THE SPORTING LIFE: Young Sunshine Girls cop bronze medal in Glasgow + Scholar athletes to be recognized by Courtney Walsh Awards

AT THEIR PEAK: Nominations are now open for the 2013 Courtney Walsh Award for Excellence. The annual awards, chaired by Supreme Ventures CEO Brian George, recognizes an outstanding sportsman/woman whose mix of exemplary leadership, humility, integrity and discipline have made them a force to be reckoned with in their respective are. A new category has been added to this year's awards: The Student Excellence Award, which will go to a "scholar athlete" who has demonstrated an inspiring mix of academic excellence and solid sporting achievement at the secondary level. Nominations close on Sep. 27. The awards recipients will be announced during an Oct. 23 ceremony. Past winners of the Courtney Walsh Award for Excellence include former senior netball captain Elaine Davis and Veronica Campbell-Brown. Pictured above, Ambassador Courtney Walsh, with PM Portia Simpson-Miller attending last year's ceremony.

TEAM EFFORT: Jamaica's Under 21 Sunshine Girls have achieved their core objective of completing their exploits at the Glasgow World Youth Netball Championships with a medal. The young netballers, in jubilant mode above, earned the bronze medal after defeating their English counterparts 52-33 in the third-place playoff, which preceded the gold-medal match-up between perennial powerhouses Australia and New Zealand. New Zealand won the gold with a 52-47 victory. Jamaica also won bronze at the 2009 championships in the United States. Heartiest congrats to the ladies.

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MAN ON THE MOVE: Dance remains a source of passion and fitness for Tony Wilson

POISED: "I encourage my dancers to stay fit," offers Wilson. Below, with troupe member Steven Cornwall.

With a major celebratory season on the horizon (Company Dance Theatre marks its 25th season this November), Artistic Director Tony Wilson and his youthful 27-member troupe are presently in the throes of preparing to deliver their best presentation yet – a fitting tribute to their quarter-century. Following a sneak preview of the upcoming season at the Bank of Jamaica’s lunch-hour concert on Friday, Wilson chatted with TALLAWAH about dance and fitness and taking the company forward:

After 25 years, what’s it like a running a dance theatre company?
It’s definitely a challenging experience, but it’s also a wonderful experience because I’m working with talented youngsters that I have been training from they were tots and taking them right up to this point.

And you’re constantly thriving to create excellent work as a choreographer. Any pressure there?
I enjoy it. I love it. It keeps me young. (Laughs).

So what is it about dance that has captured your gaze and your heart for so long?
There’s so much to explain, where that is concerned, but the main is the passion that I have for what I do. Dance has always been a part of my life.

Fitness plays an important role in dance and choreography. You work out?
I go to the gym often. I enjoy working out at Fit Farm; it’s my comfort. Fitness is very important, and I encourage my dancers to stay fit because that helps to keep you at the top of your game.

What can we expect from The Company Dance Theatre later this year and beyond?
Well, we have the 25th anniversary season coming up in November, and we’ll be restaging the Rose Hall production, which is Jamaica’s first full-length ballet. For years to come, I want the company to always be on top and stand out among the best groups specializing in performing-arts expression in Jamaica.

>> Read more: Company Dance Theatre thrills at BOJ

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Friday, 30 August 2013

THE BUZZ REPORT: News and notes featuring Sir Patrick Allen, LIME/ISSA schoolboy football, and Chris Gayle

Chris Gayle's Time Out
After recently leading the Jamaica Tallawahs to victory against Guyana's Amazon Warriors in the final of the Limacol Caribbean Premier League (CPL), Chris Gayle, unsurprisingly, has rest and relaxation on the mind. "It's been quite a lot, and I am really happy that it is over now. No more cricket for the next three months," says the star Jamaican batsman, who has just announced as captain of the CPL's all-star 12-man squad. "It's been a long road, and I am very tired."

For Queen and Country
Already the holder of a Knight Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, presented to him by HRH Queen Elizabeth II in 2009, Jamaica's Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen is set to receive his second knighthood next month, when he will be invested as a Knight of Grace in the Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem. Professor Anthony Mellows, representing the queen, will officiate at the ceremony to be held at King's House on Monday, September 2.

On the Ball
Telecomms giants LIME, title sponsors, of the ISSA schoolboy football season, have invested $150 million into this year's competitions, which kicks off September 7. Split into 15 zones, some 85 rural-area schools will compete for top honours in the DaCosta Cup while 42 schools (in seven groups) will do battle for supremacy in the Manning Cup.

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Thursday, 29 August 2013

OUT & ABOUT: Damian Marley + Sheryl Lee Ralph + Harry Belafonte + Susan Sarandon + Wayne Marshall

RED HOT: Aug. 27, United States. Stunning in radiant red, actress Sheryl Lee Ralph attends the casting auditions for the new reality show Too Fat For Fame earlier this week at The Complex Hollywood in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Getty Images)

WALK THE WALK: Aug. 27, England. Representing the Ghetto Youths camp, Damian Marley, Wayne Marshall and members of their entourage visit the BBC Studios in London for radio interviews. Marshall's Tru Colours album is scheduled for release next month. (Photo:

FACE VALUE: Aug. 19, United States. Supporters, including Harry Belafonte (left) and Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon, smile at a "Hospitals Not Condos" rally with Democratic candidate for Mayor and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio (not pictured) in the West Village in New York City recently. De Blasio called for quality health care for all New Yorkers and for the end of shuttering city hospitals. (Photo: Getty Images)

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SNEAK PREVIEW: It’s a hard knock life in the gritty urban flick Kingston Paradise

NIGHT MOVES: Daley (left) and Nelson play men hunting for a better life.

Christopher “Johnny” Daley is all alpha-male brawn and wide-eyed enthusiasm as the male lead in the trailer (see below) for the much-anticipated Jamaican film Kingston Paradise, which has been a coming attraction for several months now.

Directed by Mary Wells, the film will have its world premiere at the CaribbeanTales Toronto Film Showcase in Canada on September 13.

Daley plays Rocksy, a down-on-his-luck street hustler and cabbie, brazen to the last, who comes up with daring scheme to steal a fancy sports car right from under the owner’s nose. As could be expected, things go downhill pretty fast until he hits rock bottom and begins to realize that progress is impossible without positive change -- starting with himself.

Clocking in at 90 minutes, the gritty urban drama, centred on the harsh economic realities of life in the ghetto, is taglined, “Chase a dream; rise above it.” Rounding out the main cast are newcomers Camille Small (as Rocksy’s girlfriend, Rosie) and Gregory Nelson (as his friend and partner in speedy crime, Malt).

According to her bio, Wells is an independent director, writer and producer now based in Jamaica. With over two decades’ worth of experience in television and film production, she has developed, produced and directed a host of West Indian-centric programmes, specializing in documentaries. Kingston Paradise is her first feature film.


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THE CULTURE MIX: The Ziggy Marley Artist Scholarship + Burger King funds students’ tuition fees + Terry McMillan’s newest pageturner

Who Asked You?, the latest novel from Terry McMillan, the bestselling author of Waiting to Exhale and The Interruption of Everything comes the 395-page tale of a Black Los Angeles family, specifically the disharmony around bickering sister Betty Jean, Arlene and Venetia, as they watch their kids stumble into adulthood. Publishers Weekly raves, “It’s a well-crafted story of acceptance, forgiveness and hope.” Out Sept. 17 via Viking Adult.

The Burger King National Scholarship programme, now in its 12th year, has awarded $3.5 million worth of scholarships to 23 students who excelled in the 2012/13 academic year and are heading off to high school and university. The funds will offset tuition costs over the course of the next five years. The programme conceived by Lois Sherwood, was created in 2001 to annually aid students who perform well in their exams are in need of assistance to fund their academic pursuits. 

The California-based LAMA College for Music Professionals will be offering the Ziggy Marley Artist Scholarship annually, effective this September, to the most deserving applicant for the college’s music degree programme. “It’s a great honour,” faculty member Tom Alysebury, “for LAMA to offer incoming students such a prestigious scholarship in Ziggy Marley’s name.”

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WORD SOUL POWER: A tribute to Mikey Smith, I-Nancy’s art at August’s Poetry Society fellowship

WELL VERSED: Graham addresses the gathering. Below, I-Nancy speaks on her work.

The contemporary dub poetry movement in Jamaica is firmly rooted in the pioneering exploits of figures like Linton Kwesi Johnson (LKJ), Mutabaruka and the late Mikey Smith, who brought vigour, immense passion and a thrilling revolutionary motif to the fledgling art form back in the early days. 

And that’s precisely the prevailing mood you sensed this past Tuesday night at the Poetry Society of Jamaica’s August fellowship at the Edna Manley College’s ampitheatre, where Smith’s life and work got a stirring celebration. 

Hostess Yashika Graham kicked things off by reading excerpts from the Mikey Smith canon, and throughout he evening shared remembrances penned by everybody from LKJ to Eugene Williams to Owen Blakka Ellis, who was also in attendance. Each stressed the bold originality and fervor that distinguished Smith from the pack and hailed him as not only an impassioned poet but a charismatic activist. 

“Mikey had a way of getting audience participation without asking them to participate,” recalled Nabby Natural, who performed during Open Mic, where audience feedback is welcomed. “A vehicle for giving hope” was later cited to describe the power of Smith’s poems, the most famous being “Mi Cyaan Believe it.”  
The evening was further enriched courtesy of a series of interesting artwork by featured visual artist I-Nancy (nee Nancy Burke), a former New York model who decided to seriously take up painting a few years ago. Her mixed media pieces, including several abstracts showcasing an array of textures and moods, are on view these days at CafĂ© What’s On in Barbican.

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CAUGHT IN THE ACT: Celeb sightings; event highlights; stars out and about

Aug. 25. Songbird Denyque brought her signature spark as the night’s guest judge on Digicel Rising Stars last Sunday night, alongside series regulars Tanya Stephens and Anthony Miller

Aug. 24. The LIME Skool Aid back-to-school extravanganza took over the Jamworld Entertainment Centre in Portmore on the weekend. Among those in the mix: Emcee Jenny Jenny, reigning National Festival Queen Krystal Tomlinson, Ity & Fancy Cat, and Chris Dehring

Aug. 24. The Jamaica Tallawahs versus Trinidad Red Steel cricket match drew a starry crowd to Sabina Park recently, with appearances from the likes of SkyGrass band members, Gary Dixon, and Tahnida Nunes
Aug. 22. Minister with Responsibility for Sports, Natalie Neita-Headley bid farewell to Cuban Ambassador to Jamaica, Yuri Gala Lopez, during a courtesy call at Jamaica House. 

Aug. 13. PM Portia Simpson-Miller joined fellow mourners PJ Patterson and Delroy Chuck, among many others, at the funeral service to celebrate the life and work of the late Douglas Manly at the UWI Mona Chapel.

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Tuesday, 27 August 2013

ON THE MOVE: Jimmy Cliff set to embark on multi-city US tour, launches video-directing contest

SOUL FIRE: The reggae icon has a supremely busy month ahead.

“With my recent Grammy win and the 40th anniversary of The Harder They Come, I want to give fans something different, a rare and intimate look at Jimmy Cliff. Through the years, I've been blessed with memorable experiences that accompany the songs I've created and I am excited to share these stories.” So says Jimmy Cliff announcing his upcoming Many Rivers Crossed Tour, which will visit several US cities in September, in intimate theatre and club settings. 

The 17-date tour kicks off on September 6 at the Interlocken Music Festival in Arrington, VA and continues to other cities including New York (Webster Hall), Los Angeles (Santa Monica Pier), San Francisco (The Fillmore), Chicago (Concord Music Hall), Boston (House Of Blues), Washington, DC (The Howard Theatre), and Seattle (Neptune), before concluding in Glenside, PA (Keswick Theatre) on Sep. 29. 

In addition to the tour and the September 5 re-release of The Harder They Come, Cliff and Talenthouse have joined forces to create a video contest for up-and-coming directors. Directors are being asked to download green-screen footage of Cliff performing his song, "Reggae Music," and devise their own version of the video. The winning director will be rewarded with a five-day, all expenses paid trip to Jamaica, courtesy of the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB).

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GUNGO WALK FESTIVAL 2013: Song, dance and movement complete a cool package

Last year's turnout was far superior, but the musical offerings were no less ear-pleasing. From the spoken-word soulfulnesss of Racqel Jones to the pulsating energy of SkyGrass (above) to the breezy melodiousness of Stephanie, festivalgoers got a fascinating tour through uptempo/midtempo/slow groove styles, with adequately compelling vocals and instrumentation to hold it all together. 

Unsurprisingly, an excerpt from the recent hit play Thicker Than Water found itself in the mix. The fast-rising cohort Tribe Sankofa also put in a performance, as well as on the-rise-troupe Tableaux, which got its start at Ardenne High some years ago. Then there was the youthful UmoWeb Technique ensemble (above), comprised of recent School of Drama grads, who closed off the evening with their provocative piece, hinged on a call-to-action for "ending violence against men and boys" Though the piece sometimes lost its way, its hard-hitting look at stigma and discrimination and sexuality could hardly be timelier. 

Tamara Thomas conducted a lively workshop, with a handful of festivalgoers, in West African dance (her area of expertise), complete with a handful of drummers and a modest-sized audience on hand to take it all in. "I'm always available to share my gifts and talents," she said of accepting the invite from the festival's organizers to do the workshop. The seasoned dancer-choreographer adds that she will be launching a youth dance ensemble in the coming weeks. "It's a collaboration with Roktowa," she offers. "It will start as classes, but I want to make it performance ready."

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A DIFFERENT TUNE: Veteran vocalist Suzanne Couch on age, artistry and covering Desmond Dekker

NOTE WORTHY: "My songs are not for a year; they’re timeless."

“It is interesting,” singer Suzanne Couch says of being 52 with startling matter-of-fact candour. ‘I’m thinking differently and not just musically but when it comes to my life in general.” 

She’s had quite a life. The popular songbird, widely known for her fusion of reggae and pop and big-band sound has three albums already under her belt, the most popular of these being 2000’s Lifeline. Up next in the queue is a collection of covers from the Desmond Dekker songbook. Couch stresses that it’s a mix of his most popular tunes like “Fumanchu” more obscure cuts that she interprets wit her own lilting flair. “His catalogue is so impressive,” she offers. “He was an amazing songwriter… I had so much fun doing “Fumanchu” that I ended up doing an entire album. It’s my tribute to the great Desmond Dekker, and I can’t wait for the fans to hear it.” 

What’s the delay? Couch says she’s holding out for the right collaborators to get involved with the project, “I want somebody to put it out on double vinyl.” 

In the spirit of thinking and doing things differently, for her next major move Couch is planning on blending her twin passions for food and music into a thrilling new enterprise. It’s still in the foetal stages though. “Food is huge right now,” she tells me. “I’ve always done food, and I’ve always done music, but I didn’t think ever that the two could meet. I think that will draw even more people to my music.” In these harsh economic times, she admits, recording artists intent on maintaining their craft have to start getting even more creative in their approach to their art. “The music biz is tough, and I’m not mainstream,” she concedes, laughing. 

Couch also tells me that her 27-year-old daughter now resides in the US. In the meantime, she’s also thinking of staging a series of live alternative music shows at Hope Gardens in the very near future. “My songs are not for a year; they’re timeless. So I’m looking forward to what’s next. A lot is happening.”

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EDITOR’S PICKS: What’s inspiring Tyrone in culture this week

SONG: Damian Marley and Sean Paul’s “Riot” 
It was only a matter of time before Junior Gong and Sean Paul joined forces. Personally, I always wondered how they’d sound together on a track. On the riveting “Pilot”, the Grammy-winning Jamaican heavyweights trade rhymes over a slinky beat as they cast a keen eye over the sociopolitical landscape, revealing the heart and mind concerns they have for their society, particularly the plight of impressionable youngsters. And Marley aptly summarizes the sentiment with the telling line, “Deal with the youth dem right or else a riot gwaan start.” >> Take a listen HERE.‎ 

BOOK: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion 
Long regarded as a modern America’s pre-eminent memoirist, Didion evocatively chronicles her attempt to make sense of the weeks and months following the passing of her husband John Gregory Dunne, a fellow writer who suffered a massive coronary as the couple sat down to dinner the night before New Year’s Eve. At 227 pages, Didion’s book is an engrossing read, a stunning work of remarkable insight into grief and a fascinating portrait of marriage and family that also poses serious questions about life itself and where we might belong in it. 

DVD: Memoirs of Geisha, directed by Rob Marshall 
Three years after Chicago dominated the Oscars (including winning the coveted Best Picture prize), Rob Marshall helmed the acclaimed Memoirs, breathtakingly filmed and moving relating the tale of a shy young girl (played by the talented Ziyi Zhang), who rises from poverty to claim her place among the most talked-about geishas in Japanese history. Based up on the international bestseller by Arthur Golden, the film is an unforgettable feast of visual splendor, alluring art direction and magnificent storytelling.

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