Friday, 25 September 2020

CHAT ’BOUT: Mick Jagger salutes Toots Hibbert … Damion Crawford laments PNP Election loss … PM Andrew Holness on his new plan of action...

“When I first heard ‘Pressure Drop’ that was a big moment. He had such a powerful voice, and on stage he always gave the audience his total energy. A sad loss to the music world.” – Rock icon Mick Jagger (The Rolling Stones) paying tribute to the late great Toots Hibbert 

“I will now have to more play the role of coach rather than player to make sure any strategic gaps, any tactical shortcomings are immediately corrected, and that when we take the long view we are actually looking in the right direction.” – Andrew Holness being sworn in as Prime Minister for the third time in Jamaican history 

“We’re extremely disappointed with the outcome of the Elections. I must say personally that I didn’t see the level of defeat coming. I was hopeful of a victory. I am somewhat hurt by the outcome but also hopeful of the rebuilding that will take place in the People’s National Party.” – PNP Vice-President Damion Crawford responding to the party’s epic defeat in the 2020 General Elections 

“We think the risk factor is far, far greater than if we were to continue online. [We’re watching] what is happening with the rising cases with the pandemic.” – New JTA president Jasford Gabriel on why he objects to schools reopening as scheduled on October 5 

“I think the country recognizes that agriculture and fisheries has one of the most critical roles to play in the building back of the Jamaican economy… We want to bring Jamaica back to where it was, when we were leaders in agricultural research and development in the Caribbean. That will be one of the priority areas of focus.” – New Agriculture minister Floyd Green sharing some of his plans

Monday, 14 September 2020

MAN IN THE MIRROR: Award-winning gospel star Jermaine Edwards on patience and perseverance and impacting lives

MIND OVER MATTER: “For me, it’s now about impacting lives,” Edwards says.

IF there’s one supreme lesson life has taught Jermaine Edwards it’s the value of being patient. “Patience is about having the discipline to take things in stages and in order. There’s no really successful person out there who didn’t take the time to come up with a proper plan. If you had the discipline you wouldn’t be impatient,” the ace gospel singer-songwriter shared during a guest spot on CVM’s The Alrick Show.

By all appearances, Edwards’ impressive rise in the gospel music game was the result of patience and some proper planning. But, as he explains, a recording career was never at the forefront of his mind back in the day. “I’ve done several business ventures. I’ve had a car wash. I tried to open a gym. I even went into the classroom for two years,” says the entertainer and son of a preacher man who started out directing the choir and playing keyboard at his daddy’s Spanish Town-based church.

Dear old dad, who saw the potential and the promise, decided to invest $300,000 of his own money to give his talented son a push-start. And the rest, as they say, is history. 

A married father of two daughters (an 18-year-old and a 14-year-old), Edwards has been making incredible strides ever since – from starting his Island Worship label and releasing notable hit songs (“Peace in my Soul”, “Beautiful Day”, “Hallelujah to Our King”) to dropping albums like last summer’s I Will Follow, which helped him cop four wins (from a leading eight nominations) at this year’s staging of the Sterling Gospel Music Awards – including Male Artiste of the Year. 

“For me, it’s now about impacting lives,” Edwards says. “My purpose is to use this instrument God has given me to reach youths, men in particular, and show them a different perspective on life. What’s important is that, as an artiste, you do something for somebody’s life; help make him a better father, a better husband; help him reach a better place.” 

>> Check out Jermaine’s new video “Watch Over Me”

Thursday, 10 September 2020

NEW MUSIC REVIEW: Hot-hot singles from Tarrus & Shenseea, Rygin King, Natel, Maestro Don and Jada Kingdom

Jada Kingdom – “Win” 
The soulful songstress empowers listeners with this introspective and beautifully penned track, reminding us that at the end of the day nothing trumps perseverance and passion. It is a clear winner.

Tarrus Riley & Shenseea feat. Rvssian – “Lighter” 
Teaming up for the first time, this dynamic duo brings the curtains down on summer 2020 with one of the hottest collaborations we’ve heard all year – an infectious, radio-ready love song set to a groovy reggae beat supplied by the uberproducer. A- 

TALLAWAH One-To- Watch Artiste 
Maestro Don – Pioneer (feat. Bounty Killer) 
The rising dancehall artiste shows that he’s been busy honing his skills, competently holding his own, with grit and slick rhymes, alongside the living legend, who is well-known for helping up-and-comers achieve their breakthrough in the business. B+ 

Natel – “Telephone Love” 
Over the years, quite a few recording artistes have taken a musical stab at the J.C. Lodge classic. With his signature smooth-player strokes, Natel delivers a respectable interpretation, imbuing the track with a melodic tenderness sure to warm up the hotline.

Rygin King – “No Emotion” 
The Rygin King story almost came to an end a few months ago, after a gun attack left him battling for life. But the dancehall soldier proves he’s made of tougher stuff. He bounces back admirably with this no-nonsense single about resilience, a refusal to crack under pressure. B+

Saturday, 5 September 2020

THE BEAUTY PAGE: We’re hooked on Sevana’s good ‘Mango’ loving…

BEAUTIFUL SOUL: The songbird plays with vibrant textures and tones in her new video.

Admirers and near everybody else are in awe of the fascinating trajectory that’s defining the career of reggae-soul songstress Sevana. Indeed, she’s growing from strength to strength as a creative artiste and evolving into an increasingly gorgeous and mature young woman. We’ve watched her make the leap from indie songbird (“Sometime Love”, “Nobody Man”) signed to Protoje’s Indigg.Nation label to an RCA Records newbie ready to take the world by storm. She certainly has the look and the talent for it. Witness her latest music videos (for “Mango” and “If You Only Knew”), two visually stunning productions that show off her luminous beauty, which recalls the profile of a young African queen. “Mango”, in particular, which is richly colourful and playful, is testament to how clever and artistic she is. We’re so intrigued to see what she’ll deliver next. [Watch the “Mango” video HERE.]

>> More beauty news…

The Chameleon: Turning heads with her dazzling outfits and flawless face while winning scores of new fans, singer-actress Sakina Deer worked the scene and commanded attention as she vied for top honours in this year’s Jamaica Festival Song Competition, finishing as the best-placed female contestant overall. What’s next for the superbusy showbiz veteran? “I’m going to continue to try and get my lash and makeup business up and running,” she tells The Gleaner’s Avenue E, “and act whenever the opportunity presents itself again, and accept any gift God gives… I have my vision board with plans for my life that have not changed.” BTW, we think Sakina did an awesome job with her Festival entry “We Are Jamaica.” More music please!

Fly Girl: These days it’s good to be Briana Williams, who is immensely enjoying life in the fast lane. The teenage sprinting phenom has not only signed on as the newest ambassador for corporate giants GraceKennedy; she’s the latest addition to Digicel Jamaica’s ever-growing stable of top-flight talents, joining the likes of Usain Bolt, Rodney ‘Bounty Killer’ Price and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (who also works with both Grace and Digicel). With the Tokyo Olympics and other big events looming large on the horizon, all eyes will be on Briana.

Thursday, 3 September 2020

HOT-BUTTON ISSUE: Working group says ‘National Consensus on Crime’ is the answer

DECISION MAKERS: Gov't and civil society leaders say crime reduction is top-top priority.

IT’S long been acknowledged that it will take a serious collective effort to effectively tackle the enormous problem of crime and violence in Jamaica. To that end, a process has been activated by PM Andrew Holness and Leader of the Opposition Dr. Peter Phillips, aimed at forging and unprecedented bi-partisan approach to this islandwide challenge. A working group was established to undertake research and consultations.

Over the course of the past ten months, their efforts have borne fruit, leading to the development of a document called ‘The National Consensus on Crime – An Imperative for Jamaica.’

“We now have substantial agreement on the principles, pacts and initiatives that we collectively believe will provide a platform for tackling and enabling a sustainable reduction of crime, corruption and violence in Jamaica,” the working group is now reporting. “Our politicians have come together, civil society stakeholders have come together and we now look forward to the nation coming together, as we provide the opportunity for the entire nation work together.” 

Among the organizations that make up the working group are the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, the Jamaica Council of Churches, National Integrity Action, the Jamaica Manufacturers Association, the Mona Guild of Students and the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ). 

>> Editor’s Note: Government officials and civil society leaders came together to make the consensus official at a crime summit, hosted by the Jamaica Conference Centre, on August 3.

Friday, 28 August 2020

LIFE & STYLE: Loshusan’s ‘Buy Jamaican’ initiative / A job for stale bread / How to buy fresh fish

18 local brands getting special showcase at Loshusan outlets 
Since the start of August, close to 20 all-Jamaica brands have been part of a special buy-Jamaican initiative at Loshusan Barbican and New Kingston’s Loshusan-owned John R. Wong supermarket, in a move the owners hope will inspire other food retailers to give greater support to Brand Jamaica. Discounts and samples are part of the promotion. In addition to Quality Harvest, Swypz, Ashebre, the Jamaican Peanut Butter Factory, Ruby’s Goat Dairy and Tru Juice, the month-long promotion includes such local brands as Coffee Roasters, Smart Eggs, Nature’s Cream Condensed Milk, Copperwood and Walkerswood, among others. 

Stale bread is your friend! 
According to, it’s easily the best ‘tool’ for removing stains from delicate suede shoes. How does it work? Gently rub the suede, in a circular motion, with bread that has been left out for a couple of days or toasted until brittle. “The bread works like fine sandpaper,” the website shares, “to remove the dirt and stains without damaging the material.”

When buying fresh fish… 
Ask the vendor to poke the fish with a finger! No, really. According to food experts, it’s important to check the texture of the flesh. A fresh fish has firm flesh and should not leave finger indentations or, worse, allow a finger to push through.

SOCIETY, SOCIETY: Barbara Blake-Hannah’s big UK honour … EU ambassador bids farewell …The Heinz Simonitsch factor …

>> Barbara Blake-Hannah is finally getting her due. Her distinction of becoming the first Black news reporter/journalist to grace British television back in the day is being recognized, decades later, with a journalism award being named in her honour. The Press Gazette, based in the UK, is sponsoring the award. “The UK journalism industry has a poor record of reflecting the diversity of the UK,” the media house said in a statement. “We thought this was a great way to start to address the problem.” We feel so too! 

>> And speaking of deserving people, some 14 young Jamaican bright sparks have been awarded the 2020 Chevening scholarship to pursue graduate studies overseas. The cohort includes TVJ news anchor Andrea Chisholm, a past winner of Journalist of the Year at the annual Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) Awards. 

>> After a four-year tour of duty on our shores, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska is saying goodbye. “We have been extremely lucky to have fantastic cooperation. We have had hiccups along the way but it has been an extremely rewarding, fantastic posting, and I will be very sad to go,” the EU’s top diplomat to the region told the Gleaner at her Jack’s Hill residence. “I think we have made quite an impact over the four years.” 
>> R.I.P -- We join the tourism industry in expressing condolences to the family of Heinz Simonitsch, the venerable Austrian-born hotelier (MoBay’s Half Moon Resort) and founder of the SOS Children’s Villages, who passed away last month. Simonitsch was a man of notable accomplishments. A member of the Order of Distinction (Commander Class), he served as President of the Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association (JHTA) for five terms and won Hotelier of the Year five times. Enjoy your rest, sir. 

>> Questions of the Week 

1. Why do folks have issue with Koffee’s “tomboy style” all of a sudden? Oh, of course. She’s a Grammy-winning artiste now. 

2. Are you putting your X beside the bell or the head?

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

PEOPLE IN THE NEWS: Sir Kenneth Hall named UCC Chancellor / Hugh Faulkner takes over as INDECOM Commissioner / Proven’s Chris Williams appointed Access Financial Chair

>> Former Governor General Sir Kenneth Hall has been appointed Chancellor of the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean (UCC), which is now trying to attract international students through its online offerings and blended programmes. According to a release, Hall will act as the university’s chief representative for outreach efforts in a range of communities locally, regionally and internationally. As Chancellor, he succeeds Professor Dennis Gayle, who has retired.

>> The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) has a new head. Hugh Faulkner, who previously served as Executive Director of the Legal Aid Council, has taken ovewr the role of Commissioner for a five-year term. He succeeds Terrence Williams. INDECOM is a civilian-staffed state agency tasked with undertaking investigations concerning actions by members of the security forces and other agents of the State.

>> Christopher Williams, co-founder and CEO of Proven Management Limited, is the new Chairman of the Board of Directors of Access Financial Services Ltd, which has restructured its management team with a raft of new appointments. Company founder Marcus James now fills the role of Group Chief Executive Officer, former COO Frederick Williams has been promoted to General Manager, while attorney-at-law Justine Collins and banking exec Michael Shaw have been appointed to the board.

Friday, 21 August 2020

SCENE & HEARD: Marcia Griffiths honoured … Dacoda Mitchell flaunts it … Treisha Williams’ ‘One Dose’ takes the prize…

GETTING HER DUE: Aug. 6, Kingston: Ageless reggae queen Marcia Griffiths shared the stage with culture minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange and Tom Tavares-Finson at the special virtual taping of this year’s Independence Grand Gala, where Griffiths was presented with a Reggae Icon Award. Ken Boothe and Orville ‘Shaggy’ Burrell were the other Jamaica 58 honorees. (Photo: Ministry of Culture) 

CURVES AHEAD: Aug. 8, St. Mary. If you’ve got it flaunt it… actress Dacoda Mitchell showed off her gorgeous bod while partying with the cool crowd at the Ribbiz Big People Party in Oracabessa. (Photo: Skkan Media) 

BIG SHOTS: Aug. 2, St. Mary. With Dream Weekend cancelled because of COVID-19, business partners Kamal Bankay and Don Creary still got their party on at the Ribbiz Big People Party, which drew a sizeable turnout to Oracabessa for a high-energy post-Independence affair. (Photo: Skkan Media) 

THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE: Aug. 2, Kingston. Impressing the judges and the voting public with her fired-up single “One Dose of the Holy Ghost,” Treisha Williams took first place at the grand finale of the Jamaica Gospel Song Competition. (Photo: JCDC) 

THE LIVING IS EASY: Aug. 8, St. Andrew. Still one of the trendiest hotspots uptown, CRU recently hosted a summer brunch, bringing out some classy girls and stylish dudes, who enjoyed sips and toasts and catching-up as they let the good times roll. (Photo: Skkan Media)

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

TALLAWAH MOMENT: Tourist board launches Rediscover Jamaica campaign

DESTINATION JA: “This time of year provides the perfect reason to enjoy our attractions,” says Bartlett.

“JAMAICA is leading the way in defining a new arrangement that will enable visitors who come to our shores to have an insurance cover that will enable them to get medical care and other attention while they are here and, more importantly, to be tested,” said Minister Edmund Bartlett, participating in the official launch of Rediscover Jamaica, a new campaign aimed at generating increased interest in the use of our tourism facilities (by both locals and visitors) – from attractions and accommodations to transportation and shopping hubs.

The launch, spearheaded by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and its partners recently took place at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.

Even as he acknowledged that the COVID pandemic has taken a significant toll on the country’s resources leading to major economic decline, Bartlett said an initiative like Rediscover Jamaica couldn’t have come at a better time. “The timing is right. Summer is traditionally a time when we take trips… and this time of year provides the perfect reason to enjoy our attractions,” he noted. 

Director of Tourism Donovan White concurs. “This is an excellent time for Jamaicans to experience and rediscover the beauty and rhythm of home,” he says adding that, “Travellers from around the world come to our island for a complete vacation experience, and we are lucky to call it home.”

Friday, 14 August 2020

MURDER IN CHRISTIANA: Slain NCU associate professor was passionate about helping local farmers

TRAGIC END: Lightbourn's work in tissues culture was well known nationally, says NCU (pictured above).

As part of his work as an associate professor assigned to the Department of Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Science at Manchester’s Northern Caribbean University (NCU), Dr. Gordon Lightbourn spent a great deal of time in the lab, producing Irish potato seedlings for distribution to farmers across Central Jamaica. “He was a vital part of the national drive for self-sufficiency in the production of Irish potatoes,” says the university family, which has been thrown into mourning following Lightbourn’s untimely death.

Last Friday, the body of the 62-year-old educator was found lying in a pool of blood inside a bathroom at his home in the hilly town of Christiana. The body had multiple gunshot wounds.

Police believe Lightbourn (a single man apparently) had been dead for at least three days before his body was discovered by his helper, who showed up at the residence and received no response after calling out to him. She saw the lifeless body after peering through a window and raised an alarm.

As reports reveal, some residents had heard loud explosions three days before the body was discovered, but no report was made to the police, who are now hoping to make a breakthrough in the case.

Meantime, the university says Dr. Lightbourn’s passing is a huge loss not just for their institution but for the country at large. “His expertise and work in the area of tissue culture is well known nationally,” an NCU statement confirmed. “The family mourns the tragic passing of our colleague and friend… and we express our deepest sympathies to his family.”

According to the university, Lightbourn’s murder “highlights the unacceptable level of crime and violence in the society, even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

CHAT ’BOUT: Tufton claps back at detractors … Vangelee Williams quits the Sunshine Girls … Nurses call for improved health-care sector

“These vicious and false attributions made under the cover of social media have caused great pain and suffering and are clearly aimed at damaging my career, as well as causing emotional distress… but I will not be deterred in doing my job to the best of my ability and in service of my country.” – Health minister Dr. Christopher Tufton responding to personal “attacks” stemming from the Jamaica Moves/ Market Me controversy 

“I’ve been blessed to be able to represent my country over all these years. I am super proud of all the contributions I’ve made to the programmes I’ve been a part of… The little girl coming from the country on weekends to try and win a spot in the national programme was willing, was motivated, was full of aspirations and big dreams of representing the country at the highest level.” – Former Sunshine Girls skipper Vangelee Williams announcing her retirement from international netball 

“Learn the business. Don’t get caught up in the hype. Don’t leave your royalties and publishing in other people’s hands. Take your music inna your hands and know the business. Review your files. If you don’t understand it, carry it to a lawyer.” – Khago’s wife and manager Francine Gayle imploring new and aspiring artistes to protect their intellectual property 

“It is full time to truly appreciate the provision of good health care and that it is not a burden but a necessary good for the development of the economy and thus must be included at all levels in the planning process in various ministries.” – Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ) president Carmen Johnson delivering her message to mark the recent observance of National Nursing Week 

“We, the people have successfully voiced and participated in our democracy and must continue to do so to ensure that all of us can benefit from our status as an independent nation… As we enter this ‘new normal’ environment, we must display the resilience for which we are known globally.” – Governor General Sir Patrick Allen delivering his 2020 Emancipendence message

Friday, 31 July 2020

CRITIC’S NOTEBOOK: How Tessanne Chin is getting her groove back...

>> I’m absolutely sure that Tessanne Chin’s dynamite performance as a co-headliner of Digicel Unplugged last month compellingly recalled for many her championship-winning stint on The Voice a few years ago. That’s our girl. And we want her back.

As we all know, Tessanne took some time off from the performance circuit to get married and have a baby and spend some quality time with the family. Life happens. Now we sense that, at age 30-nuff, her creative juices are flowing once again, setting her on a path to returning to fine form. In addition to the Digicel Unplugged show, Tessanne also lit up the stage at the Sagicor 50th anniversary concert and recently contributed her star power and superb vocal dynamics to the buzzworthy all-star remix of Kevin Downswell’s seminal hit “Stronger” (alongside Beenie Man, Chris Martin, Bounty Killer, producer DJ Bambino, and others).

What does the near future hold for Tessanne Chin and her fans, we’ll have to wait and see. But I guarantee we’ll be pleasantly surprised by what she has her in store.

>> Can Jamaican theatre make a solid return to the entertainment scene? What an epic struggle that will be. But, thankfully, companies like Jambiz are ready to fight the good fight. After being forced to close down their beloved New Kingston-based playhouse, Patrick Brown, Lenford Salmon, Trevor Nairne and the team are taking things slowly as they look to reconnect with patrons, starting with this Emancipendence weekend’s remount of The Windscream Posse. Do support.

>> The local arts community has lost a genuine talent with the passing of Clive Duncan. The TV (Lime Tree Lane, Royal Palm Estate) and stage (The Love List) actor lost his battle with cancer. He was in his late 50s. Remembering his late colleague Christopher Daley (who played Johnny on Lime Tree Lane, opposite Duncan’s Constable Drapus Upton) saluted Duncan’s talents as a thespian. “He was a pretty underrated actor,” said Daley in an interview with the Observer. “If you had the opportunity to see him on stage, what you got was 100 percent every time.”

Thursday, 30 July 2020

SOCIETY, SOCIETY: #Calabash2020 cancelled / Aubyn Hill’s new role / Emancipation Park reopened…

>> COVID-19 is no respecter of persons. Not even the prestigious Calabash International Literary Festival has been spared its ruthless reign. Those of us literary aficionados and road-trip-to-the-country buffs who were well anticipating a return to the seaside haunt of Jake’s in Treasure Beach for #Calabash2020 will have to wait a whole year! On the upside, next year’s rescheduled staging will coincide with the 20th anniversary of the festival. Mark your calendars, book your rooms: May 29-31, 2021. 

>> And speaking of travel, British Airways has announced a new flight route between London and Montego Bay, set to commence on October 13. 

>> Congrats, congrats: Legal whiz Sanya Goffe has been chosen to represent Jamaica in the Eisenhower Fellowship’s 2020 Women’s Leadership Programme in the United States… As of August 1, the hardworking Steven Whittingham will step up to the post of GraceKennedy’s new head of Digital Transformation… And more power to Aubyn Hill, who, we hear, is the new Treasurer of the Jamaica Labour Party. 

>> The Andrew Wheatley saga is back in the news. People are keeping a very close watch on this one. 

>> Early-morning and late-evening joggers will soon be flocking to the Emancipation Park once again, as their beloved exercise spot has been reopened to the public. 

>> A toast to social mobility: the much-buzzed about Ruthven Towers are scheduled for unveiling in July 2021.

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

NEW MUSIC REVIEW: Must-hear new tracks from Queen Ifrica, I-Octane, Kiprich, Gramps Morgan and a hot new talent

Gramps Morgan
“People Like You”
Full of soul power and stirring gospel-esque melodies, this heartfelt and captivating song from the Morgan Heritage bandmate, proves that if he should ever consider a full-fledged solo career, Gramps could easily amass a huge fanbase. A

Queen Ifrica
“I Can’t Breathe”
The reggae songstress has always treated fans to tunes that both delight and provoke thought, and this conscious, nicely crafted number – timely given the George Floyd moment and the #BlackLivesMatter movement – connects on many levels. A-

TALLAWAH One-to-Watch Artiste
Reminiscent of a young Tanya Stephens, this hot newcomer scores a runaway hit (exploring oppression and perseverance), thanks to compelling lyrics, confident delivery and earnest, pleading vocals that make you stop and take notice. B+

“Dancehall Gyallist”
After a lengthy self-imposed hiatus, the dancehall disciple has bounced back in impressive form (lyrically and physically), dropping this brash, pop-your-collar tune that should find favour with both male and female listeners. B

“Nah Switch”
From the man who brought us wised-up hits like “Study Your Friend Dem” comes this resolute, anthemic track (about friendship and family and the test of loyalty bonds) that should do well on summer radio. B

AT THE MOVIES: The High Note strikes a tuneful chord

SAY IT WITH A SONG: Harrison and Johnson in a scene from the movie. (Above) Ross in studio.

BOASTING terrific performances from a cast led by the always welcome Tracee Ellis Ross, infectious musical numbers and a pretty solid script, The High Note strikes a tuneful chord.

Ross gives a richly layered turn as Grace Davis, a pop icon who is fading. Her personal assistant Maggie (Fifty Shades of Grey’s Dakota Johnson) is overwhelmed but sticking it out. Honing her music production skills on the side, Maggie wants to help produce her boss’ next album but not everybody thinks she’s cut out for that line of work, especially Grace’s obnoxious longtime manager Jack (Ice Cube).

While Grace is giving sold-out shows on tour and busy meeting with industry people about a possible Vegas residency, Maggie meets David Cliff (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), a charming indie singer-songwriter/musician with whom she bonds over their mutual love of the classics and more. He gets to woo her with a sweet-sexy rendition of “You Send Me.” Sparks fly.

They strike up a romance and a working partnership. But when the demands of Maggie’s PA job and trust issues race to the surface, things become more complicated than anybody can handle.

With mild echoes of Country Strong and Crazy Heart, and coming in the wake of the recent A Star is Born remake, The High Note (directed by Nisha Ganatra with a script by Flora Greeson) works well as both an I’m-Still-Here saga and a story about family and the price of fame, not to mention the emotional toll of following your heart and being true to you.

In fact, one of the movie’s most poignant songs is “Love Myself,” which really shows off the texture of Ross’ singing voice. She is truly her mother’s (multi-talented) daughter.

For some, The High Note might come off as a tad formulaic, but overall it’s wonderfully entertaining, with great original showtunes and some pleasant surprises. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

Thursday, 23 July 2020

GIRL OF THE MOMENT: Koffee aims high with her bold new collabos and blazing solo track

COOL KID: The reggae star is setting the stage for a productive summer.

THIS time last year, Koffee was basking in the breakout success of her EP Rapture, which spawned such hit singles as the title track and “Toast”. These days, the Grammy winner is hard at work rekindling the same fervor that put her on the musical map, notching a pair of attention-grabbing collaborations (with John Legend and J Hus) and releasing her first solo track since her Best Reggae Album win earlier this year.

The Stephen McGregor-produced “Don’t Walk Away” (about fighting to hold on to a good thing), off Legend’s new disc, Bigger Love, is an easy win, showcasing not only the R&B superstar’s vocal dexterity but also the young reggae phenom’s lyrical wizardry and artistic growth.

By contrast, “Repeat” (about hustle and flow), with British rapper J Hus, will draw mixed reviews from listeners, but Koffee’s appearance blesses the track with a jolt of energy. 

Meantime, “Lockdown” announces a sort of sonic departure from the material on Rapture, not only exploring relief from COV-19 confinement (“Where will we go when the quarantine ting done and everybody touch road” but imbuing the track with some intimate/personal sentiment (“Mi ah guh put you pon lockdown”). 

Look out for cameos from Popcaan, Dre Island and more in the fun, light-hearted video that accompanies the track. 

Evidently, Koffee Swagg-A-Lot is setting the stage for a productive summer and a solid finish to 2020.

MADE IN JAMAICA: 3 Cool Things You Should Know About

>> An immense passion for sweet treats spurred business partners and co-conceptualizers Rennae Johnson and Wonter Tjeertes to launch Pure Chocolate Jamaica, whose offerings have been winning raves from fans across the island, thanks to their decadent richness – not to mention a range of exciting flavours, from coffee and coconut to lemongrass and cinnamon. (Visit

>> For decades, folks across the planet have been waking up to the heady, intoxicating aroma of Jamaica’s Blue Mountain Coffee. Among the newest brands offering this pick-me-up goodness in a jar is Riddim Blue Coffee (“Sip Di Riddim”). Produced by the Constitution Hill, St. Andrew-based Trumpet Tree Coffee Factory, Riddim Blue delivers a world-class product (roasted and grounded) that makes a fine premium export. (Email them: 

>> From savvy Manchester-bred entrepreneur Javin Williams comes this self-care line (herbal shampoo, two-in-one shampoo and conditioner) that might just be the answer to your lifelong dandruff problem. What’s more, Williams (an NCU grad) concocted his winning formula, acting on grandma’s sage advice, using such locally sourced plants as rosemary and peppermint. (Check them out on