Friday, 15 November 2019

THE BEAUTY PAGE: Joanna Johnson’s fly-girl essentials / More fruits for better mental health? / The ‘chilling’ effect

STAR QUALITY: From School of Drama to working in television (CVM’s Joint Tenants) to making strides in local theatre, actress Joanna Johnson has never failed to leave a lingering impression on both critics and audiences. This season, she burns a hole in the stage as the temperamental diva Becky in a remount of the hit gospel play Amazing Grace. Johnson, a 29-year-old natural who loves travelling, is now eyeing a foray into the film world and, fingers crossed, landing her first New York role someday soon. “I’ve been watching a lot of Broadway shows,” she tells TALLAWAH. “I hope to get to that level.” In the meantime, here are the beauty essentials helping her stay at the top of her game.

>> Face: Cetaphil moisturizer. “It’s great because I have such sensitive skin.”
>> Body: Jergen’s lotion.
>> Hair: Kantu’s natural line. “When I want to wear a weave, I’ll go with the straight extensions. I like wearing them with a side part.”
>> Perfume: Million. “The male version smells really, really nice. (Laughs).”

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT: According to a recent study by Social Science & Medicine, even one extra daily serving of fruits and vegetables has the same soothing effect as eight days of long walks. As the study further points out, the researchers aren’t certain why but they do share that participants reported mental well-being just as high after eating more produce as after doing other calming activities.

COOL IT: Keeping your eye creams and gels chilled in the fridge can work wonders for your beauty game, especially when temperatures soar, according to Woman’s World. Per the mag’s beauty editors, patting cold creams or gels under the eyes quickly eases any puffiness caused by the heat while flushing out the trapped fluids that pool under your eyes. For more beat-the-heat benefits, they also recommend that you ‘chill’ your sunscreen, toning sprays, face masks and perfumes – to leave skin feeling cool and utterly refreshed.

50-SECOND MOVIE REVIEW: Harriet is an engrossing biopic and essential history lesson

RUN TO THE RIVER: Erivo (centre) leads a strong ensemble cast, including Odom Jr. and Monae

DID you know that the name Harriet Tubman was actually her mother’s name, which she took as her own when she became a free woman after fleeing to Philadelphia to avoid being sold? That’s one of the most fascinating facts from the new movie Harriet, which offers a compelling, deeply affecting cinematic rendering of the famed freedom fighter’s story.

If nothing else, this narrative (directed by Kasi Lemmons) epitomizes ‘strength of a woman’ as we follow the tale of ‘Minty’ (her original name) from rebellious slave girl in Dorchester County, Maryland to free woman to key member of the Underground Railroad committee, who made it their business to liberate scores of slaves from plantations and sun-baked fields across the United States.

Broadway star-turned-screen actress Cynthia Erivo turns in a bravura performance (sure to cop an NAACP Image Award nomination), portraying Tubman as a warrior, a woman of fierce determination and steely grit, who battles her way through vicious prejudice and racism, heartbreak (her husband remarries believing her escape had ended tragically) and countless other odds to do the work her spirit led her to do – and to reunite, at last, with her loved ones. 

Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn and Janelle Monae are strong standouts in the supporting cast. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

Saturday, 9 November 2019

SOCIETY, SOCIETY: Cedella is on a winning streak … Gleaner appoints 2nd female Editor-in-Chief … PJ Patterson recuperating…

>> Undoubtedly, Cedella Marley makes our Top 5 Women of the Year list, after racking up several new accomplishments, including her strides with the Bob Marley Group of Companies (a new Marley musical is in the works), the release of her third children’s book, and recently copping the Bush Doctor Award at the Peter Tosh Awards. Cedella was in great company, alongside Steve DeAngelo, Douglas Gordon and Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, who were also honoured during the ceremony at Villa Ronai. 

>> And speaking of Cedella and Babsy, we join them in offering deepest condolences to the JFF and the bereaved family of slain female footballer Tarania Clarke, who lost her life quite gruesomely (following a stabbing incident) last Thursday in Half Way Tree. Clarke, who turned 20 in October and has played with the Reggae Girlz and club side Waterhouse FC, was expected to commence studies at an overseas college in January. 

>> Former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, who was involved in a vehicular accident at his upper St. Andrew home last month, is said to be on the mend. We wish him a full and speedy recovery. 

>> The Gleaner Company has hired its second-ever female Editor-in-Chief. Kaymar Jordan, an award-winning career journalist from Barbados, took up the post on November 1. She succeeds Garfield Grandison (now the paper’s general manager) and follows in the footsteps of Wyvolyn Gager, their first female EIC. Jordan will be spearheading the newspaper’s upgrade of it print, digital and multimedia platforms. 

>> Team work made the dream work, says Thalia Lyn, in response to her recent induction into the PSOJ Hall of Fame. “It has been an amazing journey with my Island Grill team, and with a number of my long-term team members,” she said. “It is entirely to the credit of my ‘Supaah’ family that this beloved Jamaican brand is such a success.” Toast!

MUSIC OF THE NIGHT: ‘Way Off Broadway’ thrills concertgoers with showtunes and songs from the movies

WELL TUNED: Strachan and Harris led a terrific ensemble at the concert.

IT’s always an enormous delight when Jamaicans give their regards to Broadway. The faculty of the School of Music (Edna Manley College) put on a splendid two-night concert, dubbed ‘Way Off Broadway,’ inside the college’s Vera Moody Hall on the weekend, offering interpretations of modern classics and the kind of showtunes that draw standing ovations.

Into the Woods started things off, with the ensemble (lecturers portraying the baker, his wife, Jack and Little Red), giving a spirited take on the blame-game number “Your Fault,” after which Ana Strachan (as the witch) belted out “Last Midnight,” displaying the kind of vocal prowess for which she’s become known.

Up next, the exuberant “One” from A Chorus Line, followed by June Lawson channelling immense feeling into her rendition of “What I Did for Love.” Trevelle Clarke-Whyne managed to further raise the bar with her powerhouse lead on the hyper-rhythmic “Mama Will Provide” from Once on This Island.

Stephen Sondheim’s beloved masterpiece Company was also in the mix, providing great material for tenor Andre Adman, who performed an almost pitch-perfect “Being Alive,” before Strachan (the officiating celebrant), Carl Lee Scharschmidt (playing the groom) and Ruth Browne (as the reluctant bride) gave a droll send-up of “Getting Married Today.”

Who knew Kiss of the Spider Woman had been turned into musical? “Dear One” (about confinement and the pain of separation) got a haunting interpretation from Lawson, with supporting vocals from Adman, Strachan and Michael Sean Harris. 

Harris then put on his crown and dancing shoes for a rousing interpretation of “You’ll Be Back” from Hamilton, the acclaimed hip-hop-infused show about the American founding father, which also carries such high-voltage songs as “Wait for It,” a great showcase for Scharschmidt’s crisp, appealing vocals. 

Of course, a selection from Wicked had to be included. Browne and Harris were in their element singing “For Good,” full of soaring vocals and palpable emotion, setting the stage for Browne’s bring-them-to-their-feet performance of “Never Enough” and Trevelle Clarke-Whyne’s solid lead on “This Is Me” – both from the Hugh Jackman flick The Greatest Showman. In short, Way off Broadway was more than an enormous delight. Concertgoers got a splendid feast of musical theatre.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

HOT TOPIC: Did Juliet Holness go too far with her ‘sexy prime minister’ comments?

HOTTEST COUPLE: Andrew and Juliet Holness greet the cameras during one of their public appearances.

YOU can say this for Mrs. Juliet Holness MP: she stands by her man. Last Sunday, she told a throng of JLP faithful in St. Catherine: “We lucky we have a young prime minister, a prime minister whose body is tight and firm, who sexy cyaah done… A prime minister who can run, who intellectual and can work… and nuh sleepy sleepy.” Since then, the court of public opinion has been divided over her comments (“inappropriate,” “humorous”), sparking newspaper columns and letters to the editor. 

>> FOR 
Mark Wignall’s take: “In Jamaica we are used to our male politicians ‘bigging up’ their wives on the political podium… In this instance, a strong young Jamaican woman, who just so happened to be an elected member of parliament and is also wife of the prime minister, has proudly proclaimed that her man, her husband, has the intellect of a sage and the physical hardware to conquer any hill… Politics is a trade show. The message must be wrapped in happy colours, and the delivery presented to earn the best theatrical reviews. Juliet Holness knows this.” 

Gleaner letter writer P. Chin’s take: “I wonder how Mrs. Holness would feel as a woman, a wife and a mother if her husband spoke about her like that while campaigning, describing her sex appeal and looks as an attribute for representational politics. It might sound funny in the moment, but it was in poor taste, and those who condone the comments are just as bad… Mrs. Holness should remember that she is the wife of the prime minister and first lady. She is a role model that many young people do look up to!” 

TALLAWAH’s take: A young and healthy prime minister with the stamina to go the distance in shark-infested waters – and a strong, supportive (and hilarious) wife by his side? Jamaica is very fortunate indeed.

AT THE MOVIES: Downton Abbey pours on the wit, drama and lots of sparkle

GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER: Smith, Carmichael and other cast members reprise their roles for Downton's big-screen debut.

THE avidly anticipated arrival of members of the royal family can really make people lose their minds. The evidence abounds in Downton Abbey: The Movie, a hugely enjoyable big-screen adaptation of the beloved British television series. The major highlight is a planned visit by King George V (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine James), who will be staying at the big house during a tour of Yorkshire.

To say that pandemonium ensues is a masterpiece of an understatement. As someone points out, with preparations for these kinds of occasions, there’s always a façade of grace and serenity on the surface and demented kicking below. And nothing could be further from the truth, as the house’s upstairs/downstairs set-up roars to life. Everybody has a role to play.

Of course, it’s the servants and footmen who have to do the heavy lifting, determined to put their best forward. But what catches them completely off guard is the news that their services won’t be required during the visit. The royal staff intend to handle everything, pushing the Downton staff into the background on their own turf! The stage is set for a huge fight, complete with devious little games and tricks.

Meantime, the lords and ladies of the house, including the Earl of Grantham, Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville), Lady Grantham, Cora Crawley and their lovely daughters Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Edith (Laura Carmichael) and the imperious Dowager Countess, Violet (Dame Maggie Smith), also have their hands full, grappling with matters both personal and pertaining to the visit.

There’s never a dull moment. Other highlights: Mr. Carson’s (Jim Carter) return to the big house, Tom Branson’s (Allen Leech) heroics and Thomas’ (Robert James-Collier) run-in with the law during a frisky boys’ night out. 

In the end, the Downton Abbey movie (penned by Julian Fellowes and directed by Michael Engler) is a real treat for loyal fans of the hit TV show and for those who hadn’t the foggiest idea that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

Monday, 4 November 2019

CRITIC’S NOTEBOOK: Spotlight on some 2019 Best Actor and Best Actress hopefuls

AS promised, this week we’re kicking off our annual rundown of the performances and productions that left such an impression on us that we deem them worthy of consideration for awards-season honours. We start things off with the leads:


We’re still raving about Michael ‘Stringbeans’ Nicholson’s captivating turn in Pit to Pulpit as a soon-to-be-ordained pastor with some shocking family secrets..... Straight Jacket has no shortage of domestic drama either, with Glen Campbell in fine form as a loving husband devastated to learn that, due to an episode from his wife’s past, another man may have fathered their only child….. John Chambers, meanwhile, could earn his first nomination in this category for his impressive work in It Stops Here as a brutish married man who uses his money to control his frustrated mistress and her greedy mother….. Quite similarly, Rodney Campbell did some of the strongest work of his career in Feminine Justice as an arrogant and abusive husband who meets his maker….. Not to be outshone, Stephen-Rhae Johnson took on the tragic Biblical prophet in the musical Isaiah with splendid results; Kadeem Wilson delivered some standout work as a barber with woman trouble in Special Cuts; Brian Johnson was simply enigmatic as a diligent Christian brother with issues in Yours, Truly; and Francois Medley hit all the right notes in Jesus Christ Superstar.


Sabrina Thomas brought the house down playing the nurturing but no-nonsense business partner Tina in Special Cuts….. Petrina Williams (Behind the Pulpit) gave a superlative turn as a newly appointed bishop grappling with opposition….. In Straight Jacket, Nadean Rawlins won us over with a first-rate performance as a wife whose past comes back to haunt her….. Maylynne Lowe was electric as an abused wife who gets some sweet revenge in Feminine Justice….. Aisha Davis stunned as the posh single mother/ go-getter whose daughter goes missing in Ananda Alert, opposite young Crystal Fletcher, who gave the most emotionally precise performance of her career so far; and Rosie Murray could return to the race this year, thanks to her clever portrayal of a ‘material girl’ in It Stops Here.

Stay tuned…

Friday, 1 November 2019

DRAMAFEST 2019: Three provocative new short plays delight and disturb

WOMAN SEEKS SPERM DONOR: “I’m a happily married man not looking for trouble,” declares Reggie Cooper (Andrew Jones), when his very attentive and attractive co-worker/project partner Passion March (Paula Thompson) does the unthinkable: seductively ask him to father the child that she desperately wants. “I’m almost 38, and I don’t have a man. I want to have a child,” she tells him, sharing her sob story. When Reggie respectfully declines the flattering offer, Passion goes berserk, revealing her true colours and launching a revenge plot that rocks the man’s world. That’s the basic premise of Poisonous Proposition, an engrossing and very well-acted mini play (penned and co-directed by Thompson) that offers a sobering reminder that women, too, have predatory instincts, and unsuspecting men (and their poor wives) had better storm-proof their marriages. Anthea Francis appears as Reggie’s shell-shocked spouse Monica, while Earl Brown guest stars as the boss at the consultancy company where Reggie and Passion work. [B]

CHOICES, CHOICES: What’s concealed in the dark always comes to the light. That’s arguably the biggest lesson nursing student and expectant mom Lily (a commanding Stacy-Ann Morgan-Duvalier) learns as action climaxes in Hidden Intentions, a slyly funny domestic dramedy, written and co-directed by Paula Thompson. Lily, a demanding but indecisive young lady, finds herself caught between two men – Bill (Arthur Allen), the struggling but loyal partner who treats her like a queen, and Dave (Andrew Jones), the part-time lover who is always on the move. Which of these two men is the father of Lily’s child? Given the less than ideal circumstances, is abortion the best route for her to take? As the pressure and the stress builds to an explosive culmination, Lily will have to make the toughest decisions of her life. Meantime, Thompson appears as a case worker with life-saving advice – who may know more than she’s letting on. [B]

AH YAH SO NICE: Gambling, cooked food, rum and dominoes. Men in some quarters in Jamaica want nothing more to keep them content before they have to go home to face the music. In the intense but often humorous Idlers’ Corner 2, a bunch of society rejects fit right in, passing the time at a deli/cook shop run by Miss Nettie (Creslyn Thomas). We meet betting man Sir G (Norris Chambers), womanizer Delco (Rory Roberts), deportee Rambo (Gary Blake), impressionable kid Youngie (Sanjay Matthews) and the rowdy troublemaker Hothead (Tesfa Edwards), who must always get his way or else. They reason, they fight, they hide from their women. In the end, Miss Nettie’s words of caution to Youngie ring hauntingly true: there’s nothing more important than spending your time productively and contributing to society. [B-]

SOUND BYTES OF THE WEEK: Delroy Chuck speaks out on the paternity-leave issue / Donna Hope champions brand Jamaica’s power and potential / Don Wehby on why education is still the key

>> “With our love for all things foreign, we are always open to foreigners who come bearing gifts. What we do not have is the full appreciation of our global cultural reach. Neither do we have a clear vision as to how to transform more aspects of our culture into tangible products… [We can] begin to create, market and monetize more products that are oriented around the brand that is Jamaica.” – Dr. Donna Hope in a post-Kanye West Sunday Service Observer column

>> “If you want a better Jamaica, our conversations shouldn’t start with International Monetary Fund and fiscal policy; our conversations should start with how we are going to have a great education system – from basic school right up to university. That is the conversation we should have as policymakers… Education is not an expense; education is an investment.” – GraceKennedy CEO, Senator Don Wehby, speaking at the Annual Scholars Awards at UWI Mona

>> “If you want paternity leave you must be living with the mother [of your child] for a few months before birth. If it’s your wife, no problem… All I’m saying is that fathers in Jamaica need to take responsibility for the children that they have fathered. It’s just unfair for the mothers to struggle with these children, and all the fathers believe that they are to do is to send ah money. That’s not enough.” – Justice Minister Delroy Chuck addressing residents in St. James

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Q-&-A: Hugh Douse talks about music with power, Miss Lou’s legacy and what he’s looking forward to most

HIGH NOTE: Douse and the Nexus choir putting on a show for concertgoers.

TURNING the big 5-0 in December, Hugh Douse – university lecturer and Artistic Director of the Nexus Peforming Arts Company – continues to do work that immerses him fully in our rich island culture (particularly our music), while giving him myriad opportunities to nurture and mould young talents. Recently, the fruits of his labour was on show as Nexus thrilled audiences with their 2019 concert season. Douse spoke with TALLAWAH about the moment and more. 

TALLAWAH: This year Nexus pays glowing tribute to Miss Lou. Will Jamaica ever make her a national hero? 
Hugh Douse: Even if it doesn’t happen in our generation, it will happen as long as we keep the legacy alive. We are on the right side of history and we stand to lose a lot if we don’t honour her as we should. 

TALLAWAH: How has it been building up the Nexus repertoire over the course of the past two decades? 
HD: I started off with songs that had an impact on me as a youth. Then I looked at songs that have meaning, something to say. I believe all singing should carry some meaning. Even the tones and the arrangement ought to carry meaning. And I embrace different genres. My influences [range from] the Jamaican Folk Singers to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. 

TALLAWAH: How can a talented young singer become a member of the Nexus crew? 
HD: They can call or reach out to us on Facebook, come in for an audition and we take it from there.

TALLAWAH: Who are the new-generation reggae artistes that get your stamp of approval? 
HD: Definitely Koffee. I’ll tell you a story: her mother used to be in Nexus and she used to come to rehearsals as a baby. She’s grown up nicely and she’s very talented. Her musicianship and her energy is right. Our own drummer, Hector Lewis, who works with Chronixx is starting his career as a singer, and there’s an emerging artiste named Felix, who has a wonderful reggae anthem that people can start listening out for. 

TALLAWAH: You’re turning 50 in December. Congrats. Has Hugh Douse achieved all that he set out to? 
HD: No (Laughs). I’m still working on an MPhil, and when that is finished I hope to go away to do a PhD. I still want to take Nexus to that next level, but we’re on that journey and I’m joyful about that.

>> Review: Nexus' 2019 season rocks!

Monday, 28 October 2019

PEOPLE IN THE NEWS: JMMB’s Keith Duncan elected PSOJ head … Usain Bolt helps build home for St. Catherine fire victim … Lennox Channer appointed new NHT Chairman

>> Lennox Channer is the new Chairman of the National Housing Trust (NHT). His three-year appointment runs until September 2022. Channer heads up a board that also includes Senator Kavan Gayle, Doran Dixon, Senator Kerensia Morrison, Granville Valentine, Sergeant Patrae Rowe, O’Neil Grant, Nesta Clare Smith-Hunter, Jeffrey Hall, Colin Barnett, David Wan and Ryan Parkes.

>> Teaming up with Food for the Poor, Usain Bolt gave fire victim Sean Sutherland "the best birthday gift ever" when he made a sizeable donation towards the construction of a home for the Ellerslie Pen, St. Catherine resident - and pitched in with some manual labour as well. Sutherland makes his living as a vendor. His home, which he shares with relatives, went up in flames back in July. Bolt's donation of US$3800 was matched by Food for the Poor. 

>> CEO of the JMMB Group and Co-chairman of the Economic Oversight Committee (EPOC), Keith Duncan, has been elected president of the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ). He succeeds Howard Mitchell who did a two-year tenure. Duncan's vice-presidents are Jackie Sharpe, Mariame Robinson and Jeffrey Hall, with Vikram Dhiman as treasurer. Says Duncan, "The PSOJ will play a leadership, collaborative and facilitatory role in engaging stakeholders [and] being a catalyst for Jamaica achieving its social and development objectives under Vision 2030.

Friday, 25 October 2019

DOUBLE ACT: Two School of Drama grads stir the pot with One Wo/Man performances

CONCRETE JUNGLE: A boy’s upbringing and socialization can greatly influence his life experiences from adolescence to adulthood. Rajeave Mattis’ gritty and multi-layered one-man offering Phobia hammers this point home. His solo production emerged as the most outstanding work by a final year student at the Edna Manley College’s School of Drama in 2017, and it’s an accolade that’s well-earned. Centred on domestic strife, teenage angst and the menace of gangs and other criminal elements in the inner-city, the show (recently remounted for the Rex Nettleford Arts Conference) is a solid showcase for Mr. Mattis’ gifts as a character actor who can move with relative ease between roles (seven in total) of both genders. At the centre of it all is schoolboy Devin, raised by a struggling single mom in a community plagued by gun violence. Sometimes displaying the kind of effeminate behaviour that draws bullies, Devin’s most frequent chore is purchasing food items (on credit) from the nearby shop, where he often hears the latest gossip. Will he make it back home in one piece? It’s not an environment for the faint of heart – thugs like Craven A are on the prowl and sending threats. Lucky for Devin, he finds a confidante and an older friend in Ras Nyah, even though his mom disapproves. As Phobia emphasizes, it’s a common dilemmas for boys coming-of-age in these rough-and-tumble places: finding hope in a hopeless place, becoming a statistic or a survivor. [B+]

MIRROR, MIRROR: In Beauty & the Plus-Size Beast, Samantha Thompson draws on domestic drama, musical theatre and ample humour to explore issues surrounding female identity, body image and human relationships. The result is a thought-provoking and very entertaining one-woman showpiece (the best final year work for 2016) that solidifies Thompson’s place among the new-generation Jamaican actresses who deserve to be more widely known. Recently seen in the gospel-based drama Behind the Pulpit, she introduces us to Pumpkin, a young girl surrounded by relatives who dote on her and abuse her in equal measure – from her strict, church-going mother to the aunt who takes up prostitution to the touchy-feely uncle to the grandmother who is oblivious to most of what is going on under her own roof. Thompson doesn’t sugarcoat anything – from the frank language to the sometimes raw depictions – and her social commentary even encompasses upper society, where pretty little princesses go to ballet and posh secretaries dish on the fiercest outfits at the office. This sets up a stunning contrast to Pumpkin’s world, where plus-sized girls and women are victims of vicious fat-shaming, struggling to find acceptance because of how they look. But, when all is said and done, as Thompson’s play argues, that elusive happiness has to start from within. [B+]

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

BOOK OF THE MOMENT: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce inspires kids with I Am a Promise

HER STORY: The sprint queen shares her journey in a delightful new children's book.

SHELLY-ANN Fraser-Pryce keeps reminding us that she is a woman of many, many talents. Fresh from her gold-medals-winning exploits at the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar, the sprint queen, author, businesswoman and brand ambassador has released her second book, I Am a Promise, an inspiring read for young kids.

Published by Akashic Books and dedicated to her son, Zyon, I Am a Promise, shares Fraser-Pryce’s journey from her childhood in the inner-city community of Waterhouse to her emergence as a promising young athlete to her rise to superstar status, starting with her first Olympic gold medal in the 100M in 2008.

Co-written with Ashley Rousseau and featuring illustrations by Rachel Moss, this delightful gem of a book (the author’s first for children and the follow-up to her memoir Pryce-less Journey) is currently available wherever books are sold, both online and in shops islandwide.

It’s not only ideal for bedtime reading and storybook hour but will also make a great birthday gift. 

As Fraser-Pryce and her team make clear, our future generations need more books like these. “I Am a Promise shows young readers that believing in yourself is the best way to fulfil your promise to the world,” she says. “I am a promise to my country and to all who have supported me. A promise to myself and to all those who have loved me. A promise to always be the best I can be.” 

All proceeds from the book sales will go towards the work of the Pocket Rocket Foundation.

MAN IN THE MIRROR: All Together Sing’s Michael Sean Harris loves his full-figured life despite peculiar challenges

A MAN IN FULL: Style "expresses your individual creativity," says the music educator and TV personality. 

WE live in a world where full-figured women – and men – are often made to feel insecure about their weight and overall body image, which sometimes leads to chronic depression.

For Michael Sean Harris, one of Jamaica’s most beloved plus-size men, being a brother with some meat on his bones comes with its share of challenges, but he’s learned to love himself unconditionally. Depression is not in his plans. “I’m comfortable with my size,” he tells TALLAWAH. “I wouldn’t mind losing some weight, but for the most part I’m okay with who I am. You can’t hate yourself.”

It goes without saying that one of the everyday challenges heavy-set men face has to do with wardrobe. When it comes to fashion, it can be quite a hassle to find clothes that fit. What’s been Michael’s experience? “It can be a real challenge. You have to get stuff made or you don’t shop here,” he says with a chuckle. “It’s easier to go full-black sometimes, or you find tailors and designers to collaborate with.”

Working in television (as a long-serving judge for the high-school choir competition All Together Sing) and in academia (as a lecturer in Music at the Edna Manley College), Harris has been able to team up with creatives and fellow artists like Llevac Designs, who sometimes dresses him for All Together Sing and offers suggestions for his other appearances. “It’s not always easy,” Harris readily admits.
What are his tastes in the fashion/style department? “I like suits, but I also like a semi-casual look. I’ll wear jeans with a jacket and a nice pair of sneakers,” he shares. “You can also go with a block colour with some texture so that your look stands out. Simple and classy with details. But I’m not afraid of colour or prints.”

Style is utterly individual. That’s Harris’ philosophy. “It’s important for it to be personal. It expresses your creativity,” he says. “Standard things like a tuxedo, for example, can be individualized.”

In the meantime, his advice for other plus-size men, especially the younger fellows, is clear: love yourself or make some changes. “If you’re not comfortable with your size, do what you need to do to change it. It’s who you are; you have to live with yourself,” he notes. 

At 40-plus, he’s constantly heeding his own advice – in the personal and professional sense. “There are some more things I want to do,” says the educator and acclaimed singer, who completed his Master’s in Music Technology and Innovation in Spain. “I feel like I’m always re-evaluating my goals, constantly re-evaluating my process. And that keeps me going.”

>> TUNE IN: All Together Sing airs Sundays at 8pm on TV-J.

ON THE SCENE: VCB statue unveiled; Sean Paul honoured at King’s House; Kanye rocks New Kingston, and more

THE CHAMP IS HERE: Oct. 18, Kingston. The supersized crowd that flocked to Emancipation Park to attend rap megastar Kanye West’s Sunday Service included culture and entertainment minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, Carlene Davis, Tommy Cowan, Naomi Cowan, Jesse Royal and a host of fans of West’s music. (Photo: Ministry of Culture)

GETTING HIS DUE: Oct. 21, St. Andrew. Grammy winner Sean Paul has a word with PM Andrew Holness following Monday’s National Honours & Awards ceremony at King’s House. The entertainer was conferred with the Order of Distinction for his contribution to the promotion of Jamaican music internationally. (Photo: JIS)

OUR QUEEN: Oct. 20, Kingston. Students from Veronica Campbell-Brown’s alma mater Vere Technical show their support at the unveiling of a statue in her honour at Stadium Park, the National Stadium, on Sunday. (Photo: Ministry of Culture)

DOUBLE TROUBLE: Oct. 9, St. Andrew. Hitmakers and music industry pals Agent Sasco and Wayne Marshall were among the stars in attendance at the recent grand opening of Fontana Pharmacy’s new Waterloo Road-based superstore. (Photo: Skkan Media)

BIG SPENDERS: Oct. 9, St. Andrew. Power couple Marshall and Tami Chynn also greeted the cameras at the opening of the swanky new shopping hotspot, which will largely cater to Fontana’s upper St. Andrew-based customers. (Photo: Skkan Media)

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

LIFE + STYLE: Great expectations for mom-to-be Samantha J / 70+ chefs, 7 events for J’ca Food & Drink Fest / ‘Garden Expo’ returns this month

>> Samantha J’s baby joy! 
Almost six months into her pregnancy, carrying her first child, songbird Samantha J has been getting great maternal advice from the ideal source – mommy dearest. “My mom continuously reminds me to enjoy my pregnancy and to be happy. This helps me daily to keep my spirit going,” the 23-year-old recently dished to The Star. “She says that each emotion I feel the baby will also feel. So I do my best to stay happy and try to stay away from any negative emotions.” The Los Angeles-based artiste is still experiencing back pains because of the injuries she suffered when she fell doing a trip to Belize about a year ago. But she is soldiering on, excited about her special delivery. “Despite the pain I am experiencing, I am still hoping to go all-natural with the delivery,” she says. “No epidural, and I am also considering a water birth.” 

>> Island spice, island flavour 
Over 70 celebrated chefs and culinary personalities will be serving up a mouth-watering feast at the 2019 Jamaica Food & Drink Festival, now in its fifth year. The ever-welcome food lovers’ extravaganza is back with seven world-class events happening from October 26 to November 3. Fan favourites like Pork Palooza (Oct. 26), Picante (Nov. 1) and Meet Street & The Market (Nov. 2) are expected to draw super-sized crowds. The festival is being presented by Visa and hosts CB Foods, in partnership with a raft of sponsors, including Sagicor, Rainforest Seafoods, Red Stripe, National, Grace, the Jamaica Tourist Board and more. Visit for more information, including selected venues and ticket outlets. 

>> Jamaica Living 
The Health, Home and Garden Expo is returning to the National Arena from Oct. 25-27. A biennial event since 2004, the HHGE is put on “to encourage the development of beautiful environments and healthy lifestyles in Jamaica.”

Saturday, 19 October 2019

IT WAS THE SINGING: Nexus’ 2019 concert season serves up a rich musical bellyful

LIFT EVERY VOICE: The choir treats concertgoers to selections from a diverse repertoire.

THE 100th anniversary of the birth of Louise Bennett-Coverley is a big deal that ought to be celebrated. Just ask the Nexus Performing Arts Company, whose ongoing 2019 season at the Phoenix Theatre in New Kingston includes a rousing tribute in song to the late great cultural icon.

Under the direction of Artistic Director and chief arranger Hugh Douse, the segment, which brought the show to a triumphant close, include sprightly renditions of folk gems and such tunes from the Jamaican songbook as “Evening Time,” “Dis Long Time Gal,” “Dog War,” “Rocky Road,” “Moonshine Tonight” and “Wheel-O Matilda,” eliciting vociferous applause from a small but very appreciative and well-entertained audience.

Next to Ashé and the Mona-based University Singers, Nexus has secured its place in the musical theatre/performing arts realm as that troupe melding classical and contemporary, reggae and blues, sacred and spiritual, gospel and secular tunes to treat their loyal audiences to a rich musical bellyful.

The 13-voice choir stayed true to form throughout the show we saw last Sunday evening, with numerous costume changes and the kind of choreography that elevates performance.

Moving interpretations of “Precious Lord,” “Bright Soul,” “The Lord’s My Shepherd,” a pleading “Lamb of God” and the multi-octave “Senzenina (A Weh Wi Do?)” made way for the ovation-worthy “Break Every Chain” (featuring two splendid female soloists) and a funky/jazzy take on “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” 

Ahead of an African segment, a reggae medley featuring cleverly arranged songs by Chronixx (“I Can,” “Likes”) and Bob Marley (“Who the Cap Fit,” “No Woman No Cry,” “One Love”) took the spotlight. Further kicking things up a notch, a spirit-filled Revival segment (“Journeyman Jesus,” “Daniel Saw the Stone,” “Keyman” and more), before the curtains came down with the selection of songs dedicated to the one and only Miss Lou.