Friday, 30 May 2014

CHAT ‘BOUT: This week’s quotables from Leonie Forbes, Ambassador Stephen Vasciannie, Sameer Younis, Hezron, and Chris Gayle

“I’m still glad to still be here at this point. I’m alive, still learning what makes life work, and I’m enjoying that.” – Living legend Leonie Forbes dishing to TALLAWAH about life on the cusp of 77.
The Life I Live(d) is an expression of the realities of life, the people and all I see around me. It garners the different elements of my experiences together within one carefully composed album. It is my desire that its audience not only relate to the lyrical content, but that the music will elicit positive upliftment and inspiration. This album delivers the very best of me into the hearts of the people who influenced it all and I want to thank you all for your support.” – Singer-songwriter Hezron on his brand new studio album, available now via Tad’s Records.

“The Embassy of Jamaica, along with Jamaica’s Permanent Mission to the OAS is honoured to showcase the talent of so many, particularly from the Americas, who did such excellent art work. This exhibition will highlight the interests of the people of the region and the world in Jamaican culture, specifically the Jamaican music form of reggae.” – Jamaica’s Ambassador to Washington, Dr. Stephen Vasciannie, at the opening of the 2014 International Reggae Poster contest at the Marcus Garvey Hall of Culture at the OAS headquarters. The exhibit showcases entries from 79 countries. 

“If we are to elevate ourselves as a country, we must fix family life in Jamaica. Our family structures are broken. Many more children are growing up in dysfunctional families, which then lead them to petty crimes among the other ills that we face daily in the society.” – Businessman Sameer Younis addressing last Thursday’s Youth Leadership Training Programme graduation ceremony in Kingston.

“I am still injured, and I am trying to sort it out so that I can be fully fit for that special occasion. It’s a big task and a big occasion for me and for the people back home. I have my fingers crossed and hopefully I will be back on the field as quickly as possible.” – Superstar cricketer Chris Gayle on his quest for fitness ahead of his 100th test in Jamaica next month. 

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BLAZING A TRAIL: I-Octane riffs on putting in the work and reaping the rewards

STREET SMART: "My aim this year is just to put in more hard work and watch the results."

Still promoting his most recent disc, My Journey, I-Octane has high hopes of continuing his reign over the domestic and international reggae charts. By all accounts, this is a man at the top of his game who takes his music seriously, conveying depth and real versatility. No wonder he comes across more as dancehall’s saving grace than the flavour of the moment. 

A quick recap of the past year alone reveals multiple successes (the radio hits, the tours and the Reggae Sumfest coup, for instance), but the entertainer is not one to rest on his laurels – or even slow down for that matter – vowing instead to keep his foot firm on the accelerator. TALLAWAH caught up with the trendsetter on the streets of New Kingston on Sunday:

TALLAWAH: Tonight you’re co-headlining the music portion of Fashionblock, one of the biggest style events of the year. How important a role does fashion and style play in your own life at this point?
I-OCTANE: Image is very imperative, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a Rasta, a bald-head or a Christian. People can better identify you through your image, and as an artist and role model you have to stand out.

TALLAWAH: Indeed. Your career as a reggae and dancehall performer really blew up over the course of the past few years. Did your rapid ascension surprise you? 
I-OCTANE: No, my success doesn’t surprise me. At first when I just started out it was exciting to see that the fans accepted me, but I didn’t hype it out and let it get to my head. I appreciate the response and the support from the fans, and I just want to contribute more and put more into the music so that I grow as an artist and the fans grow with the I.

TALLAWAH: You dropped My Journey a couple of months ago. How have folks been responding to it? 
I-OCTANE: We’re getting great, great feedback so far. The album is still in the development stage because last year was more on the up-tempo side for me, but now we’re pushing the reggae side to a new level, and you know it takes a while to develop. But at the end of the day it’s good music for a lifetime. The world is embracing it, so even if it’s not topping charts you have singles from off the album topping charts. We give thanks for that because it’s doing okay for itself,

TALLAWAH: TALLAWAH crowned you the king of summer 2013. Do you think you can score a repeat this coming season? 
I-OCTANE: (Laughs). Trust me, what more can I do in the music locally? My aim this year is just to put in more hard work, twice as hard and watch the results come with it. My fans already know what I-Octane stands for, so it’s just to work twice as hard and appreciate the results. My aim is not to top summer only but to top the whole industry consistently. 

TALLAWAH: I heard that! A little birdie tells us that you’re set to close Reggae Sumfest’s Dancehall Night for the second consecutive year. 
I-OCTANE: Well, [Johnny] Gourzong was like ‘Ah yuh ah close the show again this year.’ But we’re waiting on official confirmation. 

TALLAWAH: So are you up for the big challenge? 
I-OCTANE: Always. But let’s see how it goes, and whichever way I work on the show I’ll just make sure I give a good performance. 

TALLAWAH: Do you think you’d ever venture into artist management? You’d certainly excel at it. 
I-OCTANE: Well, the Conquer the Globe production is up and running, and we have young artistes that we want to put at the forefront because at some point in the future I want to have my own camp with my own artistes. It’s not just about taking from the music but also contributing back to the music.  

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JOIN THE CLUB: TALLAWAH trails the stars from Portmore to the Bahamas

BOYS' NIGHT OUT: May 17, St. Catherine. Showing some support for his close pal Chris Martin who was headlining a live solo performance at the Famous nightclub in Portmore, sprint sensation Usain Bolt hangs tight with ace selector Richie Dee Martin, clearly owning the night. (Photo: Skkan Media)

CHILL SPOT: May 17, St. Catherine. Call him LL Cool C. Reggae-soul singer Chris Martin finds himself surrounded by a pair of lovely ladies inside Portmore’s Famous nightclub, the setting for his recent solo concert endorsed by the makers of Voga Wines. (Photo: Skkan Media)

HIGH OFFICE: May 22, St. Andrew. On the occasion of his official investiture as Poet Laureate of Jamaica, Prof. Mervyn Morris is warmly welcomed to King’s House by Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen. Morris will serve a tenure spanning the next three years. (Photo: JIS)

ISLAND PRIDE: May 24, United States. It’s true what they say: you can find a Jamaican flag in every corner of the world. PM Portia Simpson-Miller is seen here greeting a member of the Diaspora bearing the black, gold and green as she heads to the 2014 commencement ceremony at the historic Lafayette College in Pennsylvania on the weekend. Simpson-Miller, who was invited to give the keynote address, was conferred with an honorary doctorate of Public Service during the ceremony. (Photo: JIS)

WORKING GIRLS: May 25, The Bahamas. Team Jamaica’s quartet of Sherri-Ann Brooks, Simone Facey, Anneisha McLaughlin and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce pose for the shutterbugs following their bronze medal finish in the Women’s 4 X 200M final at the IAAF World Relays in Nassau. Their Jamaican male counterparts, meanwhile, copped gold and set a new world record. (Photo:

HOT STEPPERS: May 25, Kingston. A characteristically high-energy set by dancehall supergroup T.O.K was among the highlights at Sunday’s Fashionblock extravaganza put on by Saint International along Knutsford Boulevard in New Kingston. Chart-topping sensation I-Octane also hit the runway to unleash a slew of career hits. (Photo: Saint International)

HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: May 25, Kingston. The 2014 iteration of the JCDC-organized National Children’s Gospel Song Competition culminated inside the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre Sunday evening, with high honours going to standout performers like Papine High School, whose talented reps copped second place in the age 11-15 ensemble category.  (Photo: JCDC) 

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RIDDIM & STYLE: Haute music and high fashion make a combustible mix at CFW

GUITAR HERO: Singer-songwriter Brian McKnight saluting the CFW crowd in 2012.

Regular viewers of Victoria’s Secret’s annual blockbuster fashion show, one of the most electrifying events of its kind in pop culture, know that apart from the jaw-dropping lingerie designs and supersexy models that heat up the catwalk, the most highly anticipated part of the spectacle has got to be the live musical performances that never fail to raise the wow factor. Nicki Minaj, Akon, Usher, Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake all boast VS appearances on their resumes.

Right here at home, Pulse Caribbean has tapped into that same sizzling formula, fusing head-turning haute couture, gorgeous top models and of-the-moment local and international musical acts to offer patrons a thrilling Caribbean Fashion Week package worth their hard-earned cheddar. No doubt the overwhelmingly youthful crowd appreciates the diversity and the fact that Pulse obviously goes to lengths in securing the best for CFW. After all, great music is a vital component of any catwalk showcase.

“For a long time, the way we combine music and fashion has been one of the unique features of CFW,” explains Pulse’s head honcho Kingsley Cooper. “And it is entirely our concept. It doesn’t follow any formula set by any other fashion event.”

Years past, CFW-goers have grooved to the tuneful likes of Kelly Rowland, Brian McKnight, Sheila E, Estelle, Cham and Konshens, among other notable chart-toppers. For 2014, patrons are in luck once more as the confirmed headliner is none other than enduring lover’s rock icon Maxi Priest, whose comeback album Easy to Love (VP Records) officially goes on sale a day before fashion week’s scheduled June 11 start.

For those who can make it, Maxi’s rare performance will be worth the trip to the National Indoor Sports Centre if only for the twin fact that he’s still got “it” and hasn’t blessed a home crowd since he rocked Jamaica House at Shaggy & Friends a few years ago.

So who else is joining him on the 2014 performance schedule? “We can’t announce them just yet,” Cooper advises. “We’re still in the final stages of negotiations.” 

In any case, attendees are in for a presentation as melodically rich and interesting as in years past. “CFW is a great place for me to see the latest designs, get some ideas and listen to good music,” shares Sunique Campbell, a Liguanea-based boutique proprietor, a regular patron. “It’s a creative environment and I enjoy the social atmosphere and the flexible hours.” 

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Thursday, 29 May 2014

RIP THE RUNWAY: Flashing lights, fab couture electrify Saint’s Fashionblock spectacle

MADE FOR WALKING: A pair of models sporting cool designs at the fashion showcase.

By the time Shena Moult sashayed onto the catwalk, Naomi Campbell style, to open Kadian Nicely’s 11-piece women’s wear collection in a breathtakingly stunning black lace creation, the massive crowd that had assembled along New Kingston’s Standford Boulevard for Saint International’s Fashionblock showcase had swelled to over 5,000-strong as the night warmed up.

In addition to such delectable eye candy as the fabulous Miss Moulton (who is now all of 20!), the hefty white-clad 150-foot runway (the longest this side of the world) was sweetened by an impressive cross-section of models (leggy chicas with shoulder-grazing hair and sturdy hunks like Korey Rowe flashing abs of steel) who imbued the wardrobe with no shortage of pizzazz as they put in legwork to selections by DJ Nico and exuberant voice-overs from MC Jerry D.

NeahLis showed her glorious 23-piece Mariposa collection, a mélange of figure-flattering dresses, bold prints, dazzling pops of neon-bright colour inflected with wearability that makes it easy to see why she’s dubbed one of the most innovative and hard-working women in the biz right now.

Other highlights? Crocheted beachwear courtesy of Nina Swimsuit; head-swiveling party wear from Rochelle Lindsey; and the laid-back masculine cool of Portmore-based designer Balla Shawn’s 11-piece menswear set. Plus, a handful of other noteworthy pieces from the event’s foreign-based participants. And what big fashion extravaganza would be complete sans a couple of hot musical acts to blaze the stage. The dapper gents of T.O.K and the ever-stylish I-Octane did their thing in trademark style.

And special mention must be made of Mercedes Benz, who teamed up with the fashion agency (helmed by the inimitable Deiwght Peters) to add an elegant touch of automobile chic to the whole shinding. Fashionblock 2014 marked the auto giant’s very first fashion-themed event in the entire Caribbean. Enough said.

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WATCH THAT, READ THIS: Jamaican musicians get their 'dictionary' due + Think Like a Man earns a summer sequel

LMH Official Dictionary of Jamaican Reggae and Dancehall Stars, Volume 1 (LMH Publishing) 
> WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Compiled and edited by parliamentarian and publishing titan Mike Henry and author K. Sean Harris, this collector’s item highlights a venerable selection of Jamaica’s most outstanding musical acts, past and present. It’s a comprehensive mix, saluting the legends as well as the new generation of hitmakers who continue to make their mark both at home and on the international scene. 
> WHY WE RECOMMEND IT: Possibly the first publication of its kind, it’s an informative reference guide laden with noteworthy facts and historical notes – and is ideally suited to the needs of researchers, reggae historians, and students of all ages. 
> WHAT’S IN A NAME? How many of us knew that The Wailers initially called themselves The Teenagers? Which dancehall icon was actually christened Winston Foster? Who dubbed Dennis Brown as ‘The Crown Prince of Reggae’? 

Think Like A Man Too (Screen Gems, opening June 20) 
> WHAT IT’S ABOUT: The forthcoming sequel to 2012’s sexy urban comedy-drama (based on Steve Harvey’s international bestseller) reacquaints viewers with the film’s crazy-sexy-beautiful African-American crew as they juggle career and relationships while navigating Las Vegas’ pyrotechnic social scene. Peep the trailer HERE
> WHY WE RECOMMEND IT: Think like a Man’s viewer-friendly and laugh-out-loud hilarious spin on the eternal battle of the sexes is expected to play out with eye-opening results sure to have audience members taking notes. And with firecracker cast members like Kevin Hart, Taraji P. Henson, Regina Hall and Michael Ealy reprising their roles, the film is a box-office smash waiting in the wings. 
> ON THE MONEY: Made on a budget of $12 million, the original Think Like A Man raked in over $95 million at the box office, per Wikipedia.

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LEADING LADY: Leonie Forbes on a lifetime of roles and still standing strong

CLASS ACTS: Forbes (right), with Terri Salmon, in For My Daughter at the Pantry Playhouse.

“It’s a heck of a game, but it’s worth it,” says Leonie Forbes, alluding to her long life in Jamaican theatre as we sit for a quick talk on a balmy evening recently in New Kingston. She can say that again. In an industry that prizes youth and the next big thing, the iconic and much-laurelled stage and screen actress proves that there is no substitute for experience and a God-given gift that just keeps on giving. “I want people to always remember that Jamaican theatre produces good work, and I hope to continue going for as long I can and help those who choose it as a profession,” says Forbes, whose 77th birthday will be celebrated later this year.

On the subject of aging, Miss Forbes is famously candid, having no qualms about admitting that she’s seen it all and done the rest. “I’m glad to still be here at this point,” she concedes. “I’m alive, still learning what makes life beautiful, and I’m enjoying that.”

Miss Lee and I are chatting at the Pantry Playhouse, where she is currently earning standing ovations as the headliner of For My Daughter, an intensely captivating new family drama by David Tulloch that co-stars fellow acting pros Terri Salmon and Rosie Murray. “It’s terrifying, but it’s also a nice feeling,” Forbes admits sweetly of returning to the bright lights of the stage, sounding like a neophyte when in fact a quick tally of her career highlights will reveal a long list of acclaimed and award-winning roles (‘night, Mother; A Raisin In The Sun; Old Story Time, to name only a few) that reads like a book of world records.

But Leonie Forbes is beyond modest when reflecting on her illustrious acting career and continued success. She’d much rather give props to our new generation of actors and playwright-producers who continue to make blood out of stone. She’s particularly fond of Tulloch, and For My Daughter marks their first creative partnership as actress and writer-director. “I am touched and inspired by a lot of his work, especially this play,” she says. “What we’re getting are chunks of real life. I admire his courage and his passion, and I wish him every success.”

For his part, Tulloch remains star-struck. “As a director, it has been my career’s honour to have the legendary Leonie Forbes share the stage [with the other actors],” he comments in his directorial reflection printed in the show’s playbill.

Though she is immensely excited about what the future holds for the local theatre community, Forbes remains cautiously optimistic. “It’s certainly growing, but like everything else it has its peaks and valleys,” she observes. “It’s not only our actors who continue to shine. We also have very good writers, and that’s encouraging. We need more theatre spaces though and financial backing. And that’s one of the reasons I’m still involved in theatre; to see how I can help.”

So what does Miss Forbes get up to when she’s not entertaining an audience? “Nurse the joints. Watch the pressure. Get as much rest as I can.”

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ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Maxi Priest’s new disc melodiously speaks to matters of the heart

SOUND AND SUBSTANCE: Press play on the crooner's solid comeback album.

What’s the secret to the longevity of music industry icons like Beres Hammond, Carlene Davis, Shaggy and Maxi Priest? On the surface, it would appear that good old-fashioned hard work and a commitment to self-reinvention have made them such tough acts to follow, keeping them in pace with ever-changing beat of the streets and in tune with evolving music-consumer tastes.

In the case of Maxi Priest, whatever the formula that’s advancing him from strength to strength, it’s certainly working and his creative output is all the better for it. That brings us to his newest full-length recording, Easy to Love (VP Records). Equal parts introspective and potently rhythmic, the disc finds the crooner in fine form vocally as he melodiously explores pleasure principles and intimate relationships imbued with a strong sense of humanity. 

Listening to the 11-track album, one gets the feeling that this is an artist who was working through a rather harmonious period in his life, and now he’s given us the tunes to share in his bliss. To put it simply, the singer still sounds terrific after all these years and he remains consistently so throughout, from the groovy opening cut (the title track) to the universally resonant anthem “Hearts across the World” that brings the record to an uplifting close. 

As for the guest spots, he keeps the list to a minimum but the wattage is incandescently bright, with appearances by Agent Sasco (“Bubble My Way”), Dela Rose (the spiky “Your Love to Me”) and Hammond, who shows up for the slow, sensuous jam “Without a Woman”. The genius of pop-rock troubadour John Mayer gets a nod via a stirring cover of “Gravity.” 

Offering a smooth trip across familiar terrain given fresh perspective, Easy to Love delivers on the promise of its simple title: a collection of well-crafted tunes as nourishing as they are simplistically beautiful. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+ 

BEST TRACKS: “If I Gave My Heart to You”, “Loving You is Easy”, “Easy to Love” and “Gravity”

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Wednesday, 28 May 2014

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Tessanne Chin sparkles at entertainment industry dinner in Cali

Call her Little Miss Sunshine. Tessanne Chin didn’t have to summon her melismatic pipes to command the room at the Anti-Defamation League’s entertainment industry dinner in Beverly Hills recently. Her megawatt radiance and neon-bright designer wardrobe were right on the mark, as the effervescent Jamaican chanteuse and Season 5 winner of NBC’s The Voice rubbed shoulders with guests at the exclusive function, hosted by the Beverly Hills Hotel in California, to specially honour producer Mark Burnett and actress-producer Roma Downey for their years-long work in the business. Photographed above, Chin is obviously delighted to have word with Burnett who appears just as intrigued by the songbird. Meanwhile, TALLAWAH cannot emphasize enough the packed half-a-year that Chin has coming up, what with her on-the-way major-label debut album (which Wayne Marshall says is a classic-in-the-making), appearances across the continents and, perhaps most eagerly awaited of all, her return to the Reggae Sumfest stage in July. Stay tuned.

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Tuesday, 27 May 2014

RELATIVE VALUES: 'Daughter' blooms with powerful narrative, sharp performances

FAMILY MATTERS: Watson (as Mellisa Parkin) and Forbes (as Molly Parkin) in a scene from the play. (Photo: Loop Jamaica)

For My Daughter (Probemaster Entertainment)
Director: David Tulloch
Cast: Leonie Forbes, Rosie Murray, Terri Salmon, Rushae Watson and Akeem Mignott
Venue: Pantry Playhouse, New Kingston

David Tulloch’s For My Daughter is terrific piece of writing for the Jamaican theatre, full of grit, wit and given memorable acting performances from an outstanding cast led by the magisterial Leonie Forbes. But what leaps out at me almost immediately are the striking parallels the play draws with Karl Williams’ 2006 magna opus Not about Eve.

Both works find common ground primarily in their hard-hitting depiction of the lives of three generations of women in a Jamaican family, all living under one roof, grappling with domestic strife, legacy, womanhood, incredible personal sacrifices and the re-emergence of long-buried family skeletons that demand a reckoning with the past.

In the case of For My Daughter, however, audiences should brace for a shocking twist you won’t see coming that rocks the cast to the core as the story crescendoes to a wrenching climax ahead of its bittersweet albeit satisfying conclusion.

Rendering a characteristically commanding portrayal, Forbes slips snugly into the role of Molly Parkin, a charming old bird/ tough cookie whose bitter feud with a longtime nemesis – the busybody pharmacy proprietor Vera LuChen (a superb Terri Salmon) takes on new life. Things only get worse when Vera, who is the Parkins’ landlady, threatens to put the house up for sale.

Janet Parkin (Rosie Murray, excellent) is Molly’s long-suffering middle-aged daughter, a single mother forced to foot the bills cleaning toilets largely due to an unsightly facial scar she’s determined to hide from strangers at all costs. It’s an obstacle to her happiness (you’ll recall the phantom from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera) and it weighs heavily on her free-spirited daughter Mellisa (Rushae Watson), a med-school aspirant in full bloom (“I’m almost thirty!”) who regularly clashes with her mom over her reluctance to cut the apron strings. But she’s the apple of her grandma’s eyes. Akeem Mignott rounds out the cast, playing Mellisa’s suave, mysterious love interest, Keith, and their touching romance adds spark to the whole thing.

With battle lines drawn between Molly and Vera, simmering tension between Janet and Mellisa, all compounded by the desperate struggle to make ends meet and achieve “a better life,” it comes as no surprise that things take an explosive turn with shocking revelations and devastating consequences for all involved.

Very much like Not about Eve, years from now For My Daughter will be remembered not only for its crisp dialogue and vivid portrayals but also for its assured account of family dynamics, Jamaican women at a crossroads and the feverish pursuit of that thing we all ultimately strive for: lasting happiness. Tyrone’s Verdict: A–

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Monday, 26 May 2014

TALLAWAH MOMENT: Awesome Jamaican quartet shatters 4 X 200M world record in the Bahamas

IT'S A SIGN: The fantastic four of Blake, Ashmeade, Brown and Weir strike a pose.

Tasked with building on the firm foundation laid by the forerunners, the newly minted Team Jamaica has responded with relish, proving they’ve got a sturdy grip on the baton. And quite literally too. 

This past Saturday, May 24, the exemplary quartet of Warren Weir, Jermaine Brown, Nickel Ashmeade and anchor leg stalwart Yohan Blake made this abundantly clear when they powered a quality international field to take gold in the Men’s 4 X 200M final at the IAAF World Relays inside Nassau’s Thomas Robinson Stadium in the Bahamas. 

Simply put, it was a tour-de-force performance, which snagged the ultimate bonus in the guise of a spanking new world record time of 1:18: 63 minutes, erasing the previous mark of 1:18:68 set by the US-based Santa Monica Club in 1994. 

In the end, the Jamaican athletes deservedly basked in the glow of their golden triumph, yet waxed humble about doing their country and themselves proud. “We knew that we could come out here and get this medal and record, and it feels very good, even though I think I could have gone faster,” Blake told reporters, while Weir noted, “The guys were great. I really wanted to be involved in a word record run, and I’m happy that I was able to contribute.” 

As for the tangible reward, the Jamaican team was awarded US$50,000 and will pocket US$50,000 more when the record is ratified. 

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THE BUZZ REPORT: Bolt cuts to the chase for Visa + Alaine named new Rising Stars judge + Sean Paul shares top bill for Sumfest

Think Usain Bolt is off somewhere pouting because he didn’t get to join his record-smashing compatriots at this month’s Nassau-hosted IAAF World Relay Finals? Wrong. Since fine-tuning preparations for the superbusy athletics season ahead and doing the charity rounds locally, the World’s Fastest Man has scored another global TV ad spot, this time gracing Visa’s 2014 World Cup campaign promo currently being shown in some 22 countries. Looking good and obviously feeling at home on-screen, the photogenic all-star brings the clip’s easy-breezy, yet high-energy, vibe to full-bodied life as only he can. See it for yourself.

Go girl! We are beyond thrilled that songbird-actress Alaine, one of our all-time favourite homegirls, will be taking her place at the judges’ table when the new season of Digicel Rising Stars debuts on TV J a few weeks from now. Replacing fellow recording star Tanya Stephens, Alaine will be dishing out her brand of tough love to the stardom hopefuls each week alongside Anthony Miller an d T.O.K’s Craigy T, who are both reprising their roles.

Meantime, fans of Rosie Murray must be excited to learn that the ubertalented comedic and dramatic actress is flying solo this summer, when she headlines her first one-woman show, Slice of Life, under direction from good friend and frequent creative collaborator David Tulloch. The must-see performance series starts in July at a theatre house to be confirmed.

Speaking of go-getters, Prodigal Son’s creative rebirth is in full effect now that the ace deejay has flipped the script and changed his stage moniker to Prodi! Admittedly pursuing a more conscious trajectory these days, he’s currently promoting his new EP, Voice of the People, and is slated to bless his fans with a solo show in New Kingston in June.
And while we wait to see Reggae Sumfest’s complete 2014 lineup, we hear that Grammy winner Sean Paul (photographed at the recent Billboard Music Awards, above), who hasn’t appeared at Catherine Hall in years, is among the stars set to join previously announced headliners Chronixx, Wiz Khalifa and superbusy chanteuse Tessanne Chin at the July 13-19 megafest in MoBay, where Freddie McGregor will be presented with a special career achievement award.

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STAR TALK: What’s your favourite memory from your Jamaican childhood?

In honour of Child Month, TALLAWAH asked a couple of our favourite artists to take a trip down memory lane and share reflections from their distinctly Jamaican early years:

Terri Salmon, Thespy-winning actress; producer, Goddess Theatre 
“For most of my childhood I was like a nomad (Laughs). At one point we moved from where I was living in Kingston to Portland. Then we moved from Portland, when I was about seven, back into Kingston. And I think we moved a few more times after that. But I didn’t mind it. It’s just that the stability wasn’t there as it should have been. There were times when my family was apart and then we got back together. So my typical situation involved sharing space with different members of my extended family. When I look back, I have no regrets because all of my life experiences made me the woman I am today.” – Catch Salmon starring in For My Daughter, currently running at New Kingston’s Pantry Playhouse on weekends through June. 

Franklin Halliburton, Musical director, The University Singers; Conductor, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Jamaica 
“A group of my friends and I were in the country one day; I was about eight or nine at the time, and I can remember us walking through what I can only describe as orchards and orchards of mango trees, laden with all different kinds of mangoes. And we went deeper and deeper into the mango bush. I remember us eating the sweetest, sweetest mangoes for hours. I was very young at the time, of course, but that memory has remained with me up to this day because I think it really speaks to what being Jamaican is truly all about.” – The 2014 concert season of The University Singers opens June 6 at the Philip Sherlock Centre, UWI Mona 

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THE MUST LIST (JUNE 2014): Your guide to this month’s best in culture

CHECK IT: The Liguanea Art Festival 
Assembling a wildly diverse bunch of top Jamaican contemporary artists and artisans of all ages and disciplines (last year the likes of Laura Facey and Gene Pearson took part), this annual must-do offers patrons the compelling reminder that the evolution of Jamaican art continues. And while we can’t thank these committed creative souls enough, the festival’s organizers must be heartily commended for their initiative and consistency. This year’s staging, set for June 1, is being hosted for the first time by the Chinese Benevolent Association.

READ IT: Tropic Tendencies: Rhetoric, Popular Culture and the Anglophone Caribbean (University of Pittsburgh Press) Author: Kevin Adonis Browne 
If the ethereal cover design doesn’t pull you in, then Browne’s evocative writing will certainly do the trick, as he engrossingly explores the development of an Anglophone Caribbean rhetorical tradition in response to the struggle to make meaning and the need to participate in contemporary global culture. It’s a subject the Trini-American author tackles with no shortage of gusto, resulting in a book (212 pages strong) of profound research that’s compulsively readable (Available now). Also make room for: Go De R***s to Sleep (Akashic Books), a Jamaican patois translation (co-authored by Kwame Dawes and Kellie Magnus) of the New York Times and Amazon bestseller and worldwide phenom. And don’t miss: Hard Choices (Simon & Schuster), Hilary Clinton’s inside account of her years and experiences as US Secretary of State.

WATCH IT: Jersey Boys (Universal Pictures) Director: Clint Eastwood 
Eastwood remains one of the film world’s most enigmatic figures, and the announcement of a new picture from the mercurial auteur demands a double take. Sure enough, his upcoming big-screen adaptation (in cinemas June 20) of the smash hit Broadway musical is already garnering major industry buzz, and not just on account of its accomplished cast that includes the legendary Christopher Walken and relative newcomers like John Lloyd Young; Eastwood’s vision of the peerless source material is something you don’t want to miss. Also due in cinemas the same day: Roman Polanski’s latest, the debut screen incarnation of the provocative stage drama Venus in Fur.

SUPPORT IT: The University Singers 2014 Concert Season 
As of the month’s opening weekend, Mona’s Philip Sherlock Centre, the choir’s home base, will play host yet again to a thriller of a concert season: an encore-worthy blend of striking harmonies, sprightly choreography and rhythmic instrumentation – not to mention an assortment of eye-popping costumes and a comprehensive repertoire. In short, a complete package that’s bound to entertain your socks off.

HEAR IT: Easy to Love (VP Records) Artist: Maxi Priest 
Don’t call it a comeback, but that’s exactly what the iconic reggae-soul crooner’s much-anticipated new disc represents. Fans who’ve long grown accustomed to his unmistakable alt-tenor belting out tunes full of passion and seductive power won’t be let down as the album’s 11 tracks come laden with lyrics and melodies that soothingly speak to matters of the heart while reaffirming the artist’s place among the international all-stars of Jamaican music who know how to stay relevant and appealingly in-tune. On sale June 10.

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