Saturday, 29 December 2018

NEWS FEED: New National Health Insurance Plan in the works + Sandals, Beaches voted best in the world + Elaine Grant-Bryan appointed Consul-General to Atlanta

A HEALTHIER NATION: According to Health minister, Dr. Chris Tufton, about 20 percent of the Jamaican population has private insurance, and about 12 percent of that amount are government workers. He says the new National Health Insurance Plan being drafted will widen the scope. “It is an attempt at a more holistic approach to ensuring universal access to health care. The insurance that is being envisioned will enhance some of the other components of the benefits, whether it is diagnostic or otherwise, and develop a more organized way to outsource some of those benefits,” he said, addressing the recent National Health Research Conference in Kingston. He’s hoping Cabinet will approve the new plan. “We held a series of consultations with a range of stakeholders. We will may do a few more. It is a scheduled implementation that will take some time to get to full throttle.” 

WORLD’S BEST: For the umpteenth time, Sandals Resorts International has been voted the world’s leading all-inclusive, with Beaches being named the world’s leading all-inclusive family resort. The announcements came at the 2018 World Travel Awards, where Jamaica earned six other honours, including leading beach destination and leading cruise destination. Some of our top local hotspots rounded out the tally: Round Hill Hotel (leading villa resort), Island Routes (leading Caribbean attraction), Chukka Adventures (leading adventure tour operator) and GoldenEye’s Fleming Villa (leading luxury hotel villa). 

TAKING CHARGE: “I want to create opportunities for foreign trade, investment and tourism between Jamaica and Georgia, foster greater collaboration among stakeholders and develop youth programmes,” says philanthropist Dr. Elaine Grant-Bryan, Jamaica’s newly appointed Consul General to Atlanta in the United States. “I’m honoured to receive this appointment, and I look forward to serving with distinction and pride, while ensuring the mandate of the Jamaican government is implemented and the Jamaican citizens are protected.”

REBEL SALUTE 2019: ‘Babsy’ Grange sets the record straight on her absence from Buju’s ‘welcome home’ party

AMONG FRIENDS: Grange sharing a moment with keynote speaker Paula Llewellyn and Tony Rebel.

UNSURPRISINGLY, Buju Banton’s recent return to Jamaica, after completing his prison sentence – and the outpouring of love and continued support from countless Jamaicans – has met with mixed reactions in some quarters. 

In his latest Gleaner column, for instance, sociologist Dr. Orville Taylor observes, “Unless we believe that he honestly did not do the crime and was framed, he deserves no hero’s welcome because we must have zero tolerance for lawlessness, as we must to corruption and nepotism – all of which fuel crime.” 

Culture minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange has heard the talk, and she used the occasion of Thursday’s launch of Rebel Salute to make her personal stance abundantly clear. “Buju has served his time and is now a free man. And we are 100 percent in support of him,” she said to a round of applause from the large Jamaica Pegasus audience. “As you may have noticed, he did not come back on a flight as a deportee; he came back to Jamaica as a free man.” 

Grange also broke her silence in response to the whispers that she was noticeably absent from the throng of locals who flocked to the Norman Manley Airport on December 7 to welcome The Gargamel home. Chris ‘Johnny’ Daley, who hosted the Rebel Salute launch, joked that there’s a rumour going around that PM Andrew Holness forbade ‘Babsy’ Grange from going to the airport. Grange says nothing could be further from the truth. “If I wanted to go to the airport, I would have been there. My Prime Minister would not have stopped me,” she stated firmly. “But sometimes it’s best to do what you have to do without making a production out of it or without exploiting the situation.” 

In conclusion, Minister Grange emphasized, “All I have to say tonight is, ‘Welcome home, Buju. We love you.’” 

Rebel Salute 2019 will once again be held at its new home, the Grizzly’s Plantation in St. Ann, on Friday, January 18 and Saturday the 19th.

Friday, 28 December 2018

LIFE + STYLE: ‘Glass House’ moments at Bookophilia + Step inside Sharon Feanny’s ‘Live Fit Kitchen’ + Introducing the Camille Davis Acting Workshop

STRENGTH: Yoga maven and home-maker Sharon Feanny knows all about the nutritional imperatives that come with healthy living – for a sound mind and a sound body. That’s why she has published Sharon Feanny’s Live Fit Kitchen, a fabulous cookbook that got a rousing launch in Strawberry Hill on December 9. Feanny’s publication comes laden with more than 100 recipes to help Jamaicans create meals that are equally delicious, nutritious and easy to prepare. Brawta: sweet treats for desert and other mouth-watering guilty pleasures to rock the palate – from the ‘fully loaded super food cookies’ to the ‘banana rama smoothies.’ Pick up a copy of Feanny’s cookbook at Fontana Pharmacy or order yours online at 

WISDOM: A small and intimate gathering assembled inside Bookophilia on Hope Road recently for a panel discussion centred on issues and themes arising from Glass Houses, the new daily devotional penned by first-time author Mary White, who was the evening’s gracious hostess. Her panelists included the HEART Trust/NTA’s Edward Gabbidon, Doreen Goulbourne and Duckworth Grange, who confessed that he had to cultivate a thick skin as a child growing up because he was mercilessly teased by his peers about his name. Later on in life, he said, he drew the conclusion that, “You will have to realize when you are stronger and when you need to seek help.” Members of the audience also shared their own ‘glass house’ moments as the evening wore on. Education minister, Senator Ruel Reid, wrote a special message for the event (read by his representative Alicia Lindsey), in which he commended White for taking the time to write down her thoughts. “It is our fervent hope that Mary White’s publication will be a valuable addition to our national archives,” Senator Reid said, “and that this publication will be the first of many for her.”

COURAGE: Wondering what Camille Davis has been up to since she moved on from Jambiz? The talented stage and screen actress and supermom has been sharing her knowledge with the up-and-coming generation. Introducing the Camille Davis Acting and Empowerment Workshop, which has started working with girls aged six to 14 years, to develop skills in character interpretation, motionless scenes and other aspects of performance art. “It’s about raising fearless performers who will command themselves with assertion and presence,” Davis tells The Gleaner. She has partnered with talent agencies to help provide opportunities for the youngsters to get their start in radio and TV commercials. “It was inspired by my need to give back creatively, especially to the younger talents,” Davis says. “I would lie to see the arts more appreciated and recognized. It represents Jamaica on as much an international level as our music.”

’TIS THE SEASON: ‘Christmas in the Park’ comes alive with jolly, enjoyable performances

MERRY MELODIES: The show's crowd-pleasing acts included Ernie Smith and Nexus.

HOW old is Ernie Smith? The entertainment legend has been around for decades, but he has the vim and vigour of a schoolboy. That’s why his performances are so hugely enjoyable, full of energy and amusement, as he really gets into his groove. Much to the delight of the audience, Smith was the closing act at the 2018 edition of the ‘Joy to the World: Christmas in the Park’ concert, which drew a sizeable crowd to Emancipation Park in New Kingston on Sunday evening.

Smith, rocking his spotless white suit, wasted no time winning us over with spirited renditions of “Play Di Music,” “If Every Girl Pretty Girl” and “Tears on My Pillow.” These tunes made way for “Sammy Dead,” “Feliz Navidad” and the finale “I For Jesus,” during which the show’s entire cast joined him on stage.

The show’s lively beat was due largely to the exemplary stylings of the E-Park Band, with Desi Jones on drums and band leader Peter Ashbourne on keys. Karen Smith joined them on vocals, performing the sultry “My Grown-up Christmas List,” Michael Sean Harris contributed the jazzy, big-band number “Late in the Evening,” followed by a gorgeous duet of “Because I Knew You,” with Harris and Smith sharing wonderful, harmonious chemistry.

Smith was not done yet. Stunning in the season’s bright red, she paid tribute to the late Queen of Soul with an Aretha Medley, working the audience into a frenzy with “Natural Woman,” “I Say a Little Prayer” and “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”

Also featured on the programme, emceed by Hugh Douse: the Kingston College Chapel Choir, as well as Rhumbakah, the all-boys mento band from Charlemont High, who gave jaunty interpretations of “Let the Christmas Catch You in a Good Mood” and “Silver Bells.”

Bringing some variety to the performance package, a trio of dancers from L’Acadco connected with the graceful, gospel-driven work “Well Done.” And speaking of grace, soprano Racquel Fairclough was in her element, giving impressive performances of “One Man” and “Amazing Grace.” Mario Evon later joined her for “The Prayer.”

Not be outshone, the Nexus Performing Arts Ensemble had their centrestage moment, rendering a suite of Jamaican folk and Christmas gems that beautifully captured the spirit of the season.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

BEST OF 2018: 5 Celebrity Hot Picks

>> NEWSMAKER OF THE YEAR: Finance Minister Dr. Nigel Clarke and the Jamaican Economy 
Nominated by Patrick Hylton (CEO of the NCB Group) 
“The improved fiscal performance of the Jamaican economy must be commended. It augers well for the future of the country. From Audley Shaw to Nigel Clarke, the maintenance of the performance trajectory has been one of the highlights in 2018 for me. You saw that there was some amount of consistency. Too often we have a change in political leadership and it causes a change in performance.” 

>> BEST PLAY: Ti Jean & His Brothers by School of Drama 
Nominated by Robert ‘Bobby’ Clarke (Director, All Aboard
“I liked the design concept, and I also liked the strength of the vocal work that went into the production.” 

>> BEST EVENT: Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards 
Nominated by Mary White (Author, Glass Houses
“I had a great time. The food was wonderful, and the atmosphere at Devon House was excellent. It was worth every cent.” 

>> BEST NEW MOVIE: Black Panther 
Nominated by Rowland ‘Randy’ Phillips (Tennis #1) 
“I watched it like three, four times. It was really great. I like the graphics. And the actors they chose did a good job. It was a fun experience.”

Nominated by Neisha Yen Jones 
“She did her own thing. She led with ingenuity. And right now she’s still leading her own charge.”

* Best of 2018: An interview with David Tulloch
* Best of 2018: Orville Hall talks about From Den Till Now

Monday, 24 December 2018

CHAT ’BOUT: Orville Taylor on Buju’s return; Damion Crawford on poverty vs. crime; CAC’s Dolsie Allen on the impending plastic ban, and more

“We know the dangers. We see them when we have clean-ups, so we are asking persons to, as best as possible, avoid using these single-use plastic items. We are encouraging persons to adhere to the stipulation of the ban. We are for a safe environment, and we will support any move by the Government that will ensure that our children and grandchildren live in a safe environment.” – CEO of the Consumer Affairs Commission, Dolsie Allen, on the planned January 1 implementation of national ban on some single-use plastic items

“Of course, I am happy to have the Gargamel back and even more gratified that he completed a Master’s degree while incarcerated. However, unless we believe that he honestly did not do the crime and was framed, he deserves no hero’s welcome, because we must have zero tolerance for lawlessness, as we must to corruption and nepotism, all of which fuel crime.” – Columnist Dr. Orville Taylor on the jubilant reaction to Buju Banton’s long-awaited return to Jamaica

“We have seen in Jamaica where poverty goes down and crime goes up. Therefore, there is no shared direction. We also know that 500,000 people live below the poverty line. We have bought into a lie created by the wealthy that poverty caused crime. If poverty caused crime, that is a great alibi for the rich.” – PNP Vice-President Damion Crawford speaking at a recent PNPYO fundraiser in Montego Bay

“It is time to convict the big-money handlers with equal zeal as one would the ackee thief.” – Executive Director of National Integrity Action (NIA), Prof. Trevor Munroe

“The truth is there is no need for Government to own an oil refinery; there is no rationale to it. An oil refinery is a commercial activity that has to be owned by business people, run by businessmen whose interest is to have the most efficient plant operation and get the best deal for the plant. That is just plain common sense.” – Security minister Dr. Horace Chang addressing the MoBay Chamber of Commerce 2018 awards banquet in St. James

ON THE SCENE: Talia Soares + Reggae Girlz + Joe Bogdanovich + Cedella Marley + DJ Sanjay, and more

FUN TIMES: Dec. 19, St. Andrew. Performances and surprise giveaways provided the highlights at last Wednesday’s SkyDweller Live at the Ardenne Road hotspot, with ace disc jock DJ Sanjay kept busy introducing the acts (Beenie Man, Serani) and interacting with the prize winners. (Photo: Skkan Media)

PRIDE OF A NATION: Dec. 17, Kingston. After taking Montego Bay by storm and attending a praise-and-worship party at Emancipation Park the next day, the Reggae Girlz headed to Downtown Kingston to meet with Mayor Delroy Williams and other KSAC officials and officially receive the keys to the city. (Photo: Sleek)

HIT ME WITH MUSIC: Dec. 16, Kingston. Flying into the island to join in the ‘World Cup’ celebrations, Reggae Girlz ambassador Cedella Marley (with Minister Olivia Grange) had a blast while attending last Sunday’s gospel showcase inside Emancipation Park, which featured stellar performances by Carlene Davis, Kevin Downswell, Wayne Marshall and others. (Photo: Ministry of Culture)

WHERE MY GIRLS AT? Dec. 13, St. Andrew. A host of stylish party girls (show emcee Talia Soares included) were out in their numbers to catch a live performance by Tarrus Riley, the headliner for the final in the Appleton Signature Nights series for 2018, held at the Hope Zoo’s Serengeti Park. (Photo: Skkan Media)

TABLE FOR THREE: Dec. 13, Kingston. Joe Bogdanovich (having a moment with his two new friends) marked another successful year with a star-studded party at his DownSound Entertainment HQ in New Kingston recently. As was recently reported, DownSound is teaming up with Caribbean Airlines, the title sponsors of Reggae Sumfest 2019. (Photo: Sleek)

Saturday, 22 December 2018

2018 TALLAWAH MUSIC AWARDS: The Complete List of Nominations

BEST OF 2018: Agent Sasco and Wayne Marshall are among the artistes with multiple nominations.

Autumn Leaves  Damian Marley 
A Better Tomorrow – Jahmiel 
Family – Popcaan 
Glory to God – Wayne Marshall feat. Tessanne Chin and Ryan Mark 
No Guarantee – Protoje feat. Chronixx 

Banks of the Hope – Agent Sasco 
Family – Popcaan 
Glory to God – Wayne Marshall feat. Tessanne Chin and Ryan Mark 
No Guarantee – Protoje feat. Chronixx 
Stay So – Busy Signal 

44/876 – Shaggy & Sting 
A Matter of Time – Protoje 
Hope River – Agent Sasco 
Love Sick – Romain Virgo 
Reggae Forever – Etana 

Lila Ike 
Rygin King 
ShaundrĂ© Cowan 

Autumn Leaves – Damian Marley 
A Better Tomorrow – Jahmiel 
Banks of the Hope – Agent Sasco 
In This Together – Romain Virgo 
Winning Right Now – Agent Sasco 

Bawl Out – Dovey Magnum 
Diamond Body – Mavado feat. Stefflon Don 
Family - Popcaan 
One and Move – Govana 
Stay So – Busy Signal 

Glory to God – Wayne Marshall feat. Tessanne Chin and Ryan Mark 
I Feel Like Running – Kevin Downswell 
Pray For You – Marion Hall feat. Carlene Davis 
Worship: The Victory Edition – ShaundrĂ© Cowan 
Worshipper’s Heart – Daynea Deacon Jones 

Appleton Signature Night series 
Fun In The Son 
Realignment Concert Tour 
Rebel Salute 
Reggae Sumfest 

DJ Frass 
Markus Myrie 
Niko Browne 
Winta James 

Guess Who – Tarrus Riley feat. Mykal Rose 
Hard Drive – Shenseea feat. Konshens and Rvssian 
Kontraband – Kabaka Pyramid feat. Damian Marley 
Mama Prayed – Agent Sasco feat. Glacia Robinson 
No Guarantee – Protoje feat. Chronixx 

Jah 9 
Lila Ike 
Queen Ifrica 

Agent Sasco 
Damian Marley 
Romain Virgo 

Dovey Magnum 
Vanessa Bling 

Rygin King 

Gem Myers 
Jason Worton 
Monty Alexander 
Nickeishia Barnes 
Seretse Small 


>> Winners will be announced on Feb. 4, 2019.

BEST OF 2018: David Tulloch sounds off on his latest hit, projects for 2019, and taking the work to another level

MAN FOR ALL SEASONS: "We’ve done some good work, and the recognition, locally and internationally, is growing," the playwright notes.

IT wouldn’t be a complete year for Jamaican theatre without a few submissions from the relentless agent provocateur David Tulloch who, true to form, supplied both brand-new material (Sugar Daddy, Young & Wreckless) and revised works (What Goes Around), while lending his directorial expertise to a slew of other projects (One Blood, Jump Staat). Did we neglect to mention that in November, he and wife Karla welcomed their second child, a daughter named Lisa-Marie? Life is sweet for this 37-year-old achiever, whose company Probemaster Entertainment turns 20 next year. 

TALLAWAH: You’ve remounted your hit play Sins of the Flesh as What Goes Around. Why the name change? 
David Tulloch: Because of the title, we didn’t want people to think it was another Sugar Daddy. We didn’t want them to think we were doing another R-rated production shortly after doing one that had such a long run. It would have sounded like we were going back down that road. (Laughs). 

TALLAWAH: So what will you next new play explore? 
David Tulloch: I’ve been taking a break from writing, but I’m trying to come up with some true-to-life stories for next year. We’ll be doing Jamaica Sweetest, which will be the final in the revue series, after Jamaica Sweet and Jamaica Sweeter. We’re also doing Nanny: The Musical next year and an adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire, to be directed by Eugene Williams. We’ve applied for the rights, so hopefully it can be on stage in April. 

TALLAWAH: Fantastic news. As a storyteller, when it comes to finding material for your new scripts, how challenging is that? 
David Tulloch: Not very challenging. Sometimes it just comes to me. You see something and you’re like, ‘Hmmm. Is that for real? Very interesting.’ I’m also trying to focus on some stellar work, but I’m not forcing it too hard. I want to allow them to unfold naturally. 

TALLAWAH: After two decades, Probemaster Entertainment is still doing amazingly well. Congrats. How can the company achieve even better results in 2019 and beyond? 
David Tulloch: I’d like to spend a lot more time in administration next year, because I’d like Probemaster to be a proper administrative machine as well. We get great feedback on social media, especially Facebook, but we need more hands to help us with the work. In May, we’ll officially be 20 years old, and to celebrate that we’ll be having the return of the Phoenix Awards in June. We’ve done some good work, and the recognition, locally and internationally, is growing. 

TALLAWAH: That said, what’s great about Jamaican theatre right now? 
David Tulloch: We’re still practising, while other industries have stopped. A handful of us in theatre are still practising, and that’s important. In terms of business, it’s tough but we are still working, we’re still making strides and giving thanks.

NEWS & NOTES: Jampro and PICA join forces + Ward Theatre to be ready for next year? + 2018’s top teacher, principal announced

>> St. George’s Margaret Campbell, Munro’s Amorkard Brown win Principal, Teacher of the Year 
Eleven finalists in total were in the running to be named LASCO Teacher of the Year and Principal of the Year for 2018/19. At Tuesday’s awards ceremony at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston, Margaret Campbell, who in 2006 became the first headmistress of the North Street-based St. George’s College, won the Principal of the Year trophy. The trophy for Teacher of the Year went to Amorkard Brown, a senior instructor at the St. Elizabeth-based Munro College, another venerable all-boys institution. Lauding this year’s crop of nominees, state minister for Education and Youth, Floyd Green, who delivered the keynote address at the ceremony, hailed the teachers and principals as all winners “because every day you inspire and shape the lives of our children.” 

>> Ward Theatre renovation work to be completed in 2019 
“I believe we will all be proud of the building when we have done the renovations,” says Mayer of Kingston, Delroy Williams, announcing that the ongoing work on the badly damaged Ward Theatre should be fully completed in the New Year. According to Mayor Williams, 80 per cent of the work should be completed by September. Repair and upgrading of the landmark theatre’s facilities so far includes the installation of waterproof membrane on the roof, the fitting of countertops and basins in a restroom and four changing rooms, installation of dry-wall ceiling and sanitary fixtures and wall repairs. The Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) is spearheading the renovation project in collaboration with the Culture ministry. 

>> Jampro looks to introduce “investor visa” for improved immigration experience 
The Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) and Jamaica Promotions Corporation (Jampro) have signed an MOU aimed at making it easier for international investors to do business in Jamaica. The two government agencies will collaborate on the development and execution of processes to facilitate investments and will combine efforts to lobby for policy changes that will positively impact visitors. “We are looking forward to this partnership with PICA as they have committed to working with us to improve immigration processes that affect investments,” says Jampro president, Diane Edwards, adding that her agency will be introducing an “investor visa” for their clients to benefit from a “more seamless immigration experience.”

THANKS & PRAISES: Top gospel acts celebrate the Reggae Girlz at Emancipation Park concert

DANCE WITH ME: (Top) Downswell and one of the players putting in work on stage; Grange and the Girlz enjoying the music.

AFTER such a triumphant year, the Reggae Girlz have much to be grateful for. The World Cup-bound senior footballers, along with their coaches and managers and JFF support staff got a glorious opportunity for thanksgiving, when they gathered inside New Kingston’s Emancipation Park on Sunday evening for a free-to-the-public gospel showcase, which drew a supersized crowd. The event was organized by the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, with Minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange and Reggae Girlz ambassador Cedella Marley sitting up front.

The performance package was first class. By the time we got to the venue, Carlene Davis was wrapping up her set and making way for Wayne Marshall. He instantly connected with the audience, taking them down memory lane with cuts like “Marshall in Town” and “Overcome” before stirring souls with a rendition of The Grace Thrillers’ “Can’t Even Walk”, his humorous “Yardie Christmas” and his sensational hit “Glory to God.”

Kevin Downswell was up next. Vocally impeccable as always, he gave renditions of “I’m Not Afraid,” “A Change is Coming” and “It’s Already Done.” As expected, “I Feel Like Running” (with the Girlz joining him onstage) and “That’s Enough” incited some jumping and rag-waving, ahead of his fresh take on “Goodbye World,” “All the Way/If It’s Not You” and the final number “Stronger.” 

Lubert Levy took them to church with “I Feel Like Going On,” “Moving up the King’s Highway,’ “By Force” and “Roll Jordan Roll,” while Kukudoo brought his signature style to the selections “Inna Di Wilderness,” “No Longer a Slave,” and the crowd favourite “Leave People Business Alone (Thanks You Jesus)”. 

The show ended with Sister Patt, a commanding soloist who no trouble winning over the people with her fiery energy. She gave performances of “Rock My Soul,” “Massa God”, “Jubilee” and “The Lord is My Shepherd,” remdinding the believers to hold on to their spiritual victory. Sister Patt’s performance provided a big finish for the concert, with Minister Grange, JFF President Michael Ricketts and the Girlz ascending the stage to share in the celebratory moment. 

Nadine Blair and Markland ‘Action’ Edwards were the night’s emcees. Sponsors included Jamaica National, Coca Cola, Caribbean Airlines, Wisynco and Supreme Ventures Limited.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

IT’S THE GIRLS! Khadijah Robinson set for ‘Beauty with a Purpose’ tour + What’s next for Emily Maddison? + Tanya Lee’s new book

HER ‘PURPOSE’: Jamaica’s Khadijah Robinson is going on tour! The reigning Miss World Caribbean (thanks to her fourth place finish at the recent Miss World pageant in Sanya, China) will join new Miss World Vanessa Ponce de Leon (Mexico) and her fellow continental queens on the Beauty With a Purpose, which is poised to hit all the continents. A physiotherapist by training who works with the Black River Hospital in St. Elizabeth, the 23-year-old stunner says she had a swell time while in China for the coronation. “The highlight for me was getting to know the ladies,” the Hampton grad shared during a post-pageant interview with the Observer’s Kevin Jackson. “I became friends with persons from countries I never even heard of. Learning about their cultures was fun.” 

HER WRITE: This one is for the kids! Sports marketer and newspaper columnist turned author Tanya Lee has published Little Country, Big Winners, a reading and colouring book children aged three to 10 years old. It comes on the heels of her first book, the motivational tome The Winner Within, released in January. Accompanied by illustrations from Nicholas Perkins, Little Country shares stories of athletes who identified and/or developed their talent at a young age and went on to do great things for Jamaica on the global stage. “My first book was aimed at aspiring athletes and adults, but this time around I wanted to use our athletes to motivate the younger ones instead,” Lee says. “I want Jamaican children to see that not all superheroes wear capes or are from Marvel comics.” Little Country, Big Winners is on sale at Bookophilia (St. Andrew) and at Fontana pharmacies islandwide. 

HER MISSION: What’s next for reigning Miss Jamaica Universe, Emily Maddison? The 18-year-old Campionite repped the black, green and gold at the global pageant in Thailand on Sunday night and finished in the Top 20. (People are still talking about her gorgeous national costume during the parade of nations!) With the pageant now behind her, Maddison told Zip FM that she now wants to give some serious focus to her non-profit organization, Girls Who Know Jamaica, whose aim is to impact lives via sexual-health education and personal development.

TALLAWAH BOOK CLUB: Kiki gives us the lowdown on her brand-new release, Discovering You

PAGE TURNER: The author during a promo appearance at the National Library.

Kerie-Ann ‘Kiki’ Thombs has always fascinated us. Whether she’s charming us over the airwaves (she recently moved to KOOL FM), bringing her sultry beauty to our TV screens (she has a solo TV project in the works) or using her personal testimony to remind us to cherish our lives, Kiki is a true inspiration. Now she’s written her first book, Discovering You: The Search Is Over, a guide to honing your inner compass with marked emphasis on self-acceptance and spirituality. 

TALLAWAH: What did you discover about this crazy thing called life while working on Discovering You

Kiki: I had many epiphanies, but especially how powerful we are as humans. My definition of God changed during the process of working on the book, because it looks at more than just spirituality. It also looks at neuroscience. Overall it gives a different meaning to love and respect. 

TALLAWAH: Interesting. So why was it important for you to put this book out there? 

Kiki: I’ve always wanted to write a book, and two years ago I met in a head-on collision. I could have died. So I said, ‘God, I’m ready.’ It just had to be birthed. 

TALLAWAH: Having accomplished so much – from a media career to motherhood to becoming a first-time author, what do you consider your greatest achievement? 

Kiki: Self-love (Laughs). I’m feeling at a place where life is good. I’m okay. I’m happy. And nothing else quite equates to that. While working on the book, I felt a transformation. I believe I am God being expressed as Kiki. I no longer see myself as Kerie. God is expressing himself through me. It’s like I have this job to do, and it’s going to be done. 

TALLAWAH: What will your next book explore? 

Kiki: Relationships. Intimate as well as other kinds of human relationships. A lot of us try to define ourselves based on our relationships, and that’s something we need to examine more closely in our everyday lives. 

TALLAWAH: What are you most looking forward to this holiday season? 

Kiki: I want to say impacting lives, but I think the one thing most of us are looking forward to is the family time – making the most of the season, seeing the familiar faces and just enjoying the joy of family.

Friday, 14 December 2018

BEST OF 2018: Orville Hall talks about his groundbreaking success with the first dancehall musical

PUTTING IN WORK: “We need to educate the youngsters and take steps to institutionalize our dance culture, not just hustle it,” says Hall.

THE name Orville Hall has become synonymous with the kind of electric dance choreography that draws standing ovations, the hit televised talent series Dancin’ Dynamites, and the group Dance Xpressionz, which continues to advance from strength to strength. Hall, who turns 51 this month, had a big year. The major highlight was the remount of From Den Till Now, a definitive dancehall musical (which he wrote and directed) that’s as delightful as it is deeply educational. Hall certainly has a hit on his hands.

TALLAWAH: You remounted From Den Till Now to great reviews, as Jamaica’s first dancehall musical. What does this kind of pioneering success mean to you?
 Orville Hall: It’s overwhelming because people received this remount the same way they did the first show, when it opened last year. [From Den Till Now] actually started out as a 20-minute piece that we did about 10 years ago in Massachusetts, and when we came back to Jamaica, we were invited up to Moneague College to give a presentation, and for that we turned it into a 45-minute production, and we toured the hotels with it. And last year when I was in Tanzania, the idea for a full-length musical came to me. This is the story of EXED College, because it’s the same kind of struggles we faced, and the need for fundraisers to keep the school going.

TALLAWAH: We really enjoyed your piece “Scandal Bag” for the Stella Maris Dance Ensemble’s 25th anniversary season. You take such a high-energy approach to choreography and storytelling. 
Orville Hall: That’s my style. What I find is that a lot of the local dance companies don’t incorporate hardcore reggae into their programme; they are more modern-trained. So one of the things I want to do is to show how we can use reggae and dancehall to make the productions more Jamaican. I like to train the bodies and introduce them to a different discipline.

TALLAWAH: Is there a follow-up to From Den Till Now in the works?
Orville Hall: For next year what I want to do is bring back a play I did about three, four years ago called Corner Shop. It’s about a lady who runs a shop, and she’s a Garveyite who wants to educate the youths about Garvey and his teachings. Everybody who comes to the shop she tries to teach them these things.

TALLAWAH: Is Jamaican dance culture currently positioned where it should be?
Orville Hall: We see some good things happening, and we like that. When you look at artistes like Ding Dong and what they’re achieving on the world stage, it is a good look. And we need to capitalize on it. But there are sections of the culture that need to be told. Also, you now have a lot of inner-city dancers touring, bringing the culture to other parts of the world, but they need to be more knowledgeable of the history, not just the new school. We need to educate the youngsters and take steps to institutionalize our dance culture, not just hustle it. That way we can properly earn from it. 

TALLAWAH: And, of course, you’ll continue to play a pivotal role with Dance Xpressionz. What do you want your legacy to be?
Orville Hall: This is my legacy. A show like From Den Till Now will still be entertaining and relevant 20 years from now. All we’d have to do is add some of the contemporary music to make it current. This is what I’m passionate about. I was telling some people recently that if I’d gotten rich I probably wouldn’t have done a show like From Den Till Now, and be involved with these kinds of projects. But I’m a culture-keeper, and these projects keep me rooted in Jamaican culture.

> Review: From Den Tilll Now educates and elightens 

TIME WELL SPENT: Attendees get life-changing advice, cool gifts at Good Life Global Tour stop

IT'S ALL 'GOOD': Joan Wright Good, Deane Good and prize winner Tameika Duvall, who flew in from Washington DC.

THE curtains came down on the Jamaican leg of the Good Life Relationships and Business Tour at the Courtleigh Hotel & Suites in New Kingston on Saturday, with a spirited panel discussion centred on a range of topical everyday issues affecting our relationships: blended families, divorce, how to make your marriage work, compatibility, philosophies on dating, raising kids and introducing your child to the new man in your life.

Moderated by Deane Good and Camille ‘Coco’ Sinclair, the discussion featured contributions from first-time author and mother of four Kerie ‘Kiki’ Lewis, editor and parenting consultant Michelle Gordon, veteran nurse Jo Buchanan Williams and widow Paulette Keane, among others.

Earlier, Hollywood star boy Lamman Rucker (Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married?, Netflix’s Green Leaf) connected with the conference (A room with some loyal female fans) via Skype to give insights on his career in showbiz entrepreneurship and lessons learned. Dr. David Burris also participated in the day’s activities via video-conferencing to talk about the business of relationships.

Dr. Nsombi Jaja (Purpose Alignment) and Terisha Bennett Lee (The Propensities of Success) also delivered.

Conference conceptualizer and hostess Joan Wright Good then gave a captivating presentation about moving from fear and uncertainty to passion and finding/fulfilling your purpose. The author and businesswoman, who managed to start her business back in the day with $125 to her name, charged the participants to tap into their God-given gifts, start their own businesses and write their books. “Once you tap into your gift you cannot go broke,” she emphasized. “But when you identify [that] moneymaker, it is passion that will keep you in the room.” 

The tour has hit five cities, saving Kingston for last. Friday night’s opening segment featured praise-and-worship with singer Kimola Brown-Lowe, a powerful message by Pastor Christine Haber and a VIP networking session. Patrons flew in from Belize, New York and Washington DC to attend. A scholarship and a book contract were among the giveaways.