Saturday, 30 May 2020

WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE: Jamaica’s CMO Dr. Jacquiline Bissasor-McKenzie aims for significant impact via her work in the health-care system

WOMAN IN CHARGE: “A lot of people don’t like making unpleasant decisions,” says Bissasor-McKenzie, “but I don’t consider them to be unpleasant decisions.” 

THE COVID-19 health crisis has morphed into a modern-day godzilla, with horns the size of the World Trade Centre Towers. Here in Jamaica, one woman stands armed and fearless on the frontlines as the Jamaican authorities take the bull by the horns. 

By her own admission, Dr. Jacquiline Bissasor-McKenzie, our Chief Medical Officer (CMO), is used to mammoth challenges and relishes them. But the advent of the coronavirus – with its relentless pursuit of victims – has brought her one of the toughest experiences of her professional career in the medical field. “I constantly feel as if I am in a boat going through a storm, and I’m trying to keep the boat on the right track,” she revealed in a recent sit-down interview with All Woman. “But there are many courses that can be taken, and I have to hold tight to the wheel.”

Thrust into the glare of the public spotlight, Bissasor-McKenzie has been arduously helping the Prime minister and the Minister of Health make the best decisions as Jamaica and countries across the globe weather the storm. “A lot of people don’t like making unpleasant decisions, but I don’t consider them to be unpleasant decisions,” says Bissasor-McKenzie, a St. Jago High alumna and mother of two children, who are now both successful doctors. “I consider them making the best decision, then dealing with the unpleasantness after.”

That said, the COVID experience has only sought to bolster her commitment to her job and the wider national efforts to improve Jamaica’s health-care system. “I have recognized several challenges that we’ve had over the years in our health system, and I just want to do my part to make it better, by putting the basic systems in place,” says the Clarendon-by-way-of-Trelawney native, who took over as CMO in 2018. “My focus will be on building and strengthening the foundation.”

She adds, “My aim has always been to do what I do until I can do no more.”

Thursday, 28 May 2020

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Dancer Faybian Grizzle clings to artistic excellence in pursuit of his dreams

ROCK SOLID: “I’m always trying to grow as a performer because that’s supposed to be the aim,” says Grizzle.

WHILE a student at Pembroke Hall Primary, Faybian Grizzle displayed immense athletic prowess, dominating his peers on the track. But at Kingston College, years later, he decided to pursue an artistic path, alongside his academic studies, joining the famed KC Chapel Choir, touring and performing with his fellow choristers all the way up to sixth form.

That experience planted a seed that has since bloomed into a full-blown passion for the performing arts. Shortly after graduating from KC, Grizzle was wise to join the Ashé Company, coming under the sway of veterans Conroy Wilson and Michael Holgate.

He’s now been a part of the Ashé family for eight years, getting to indulge in the expansive range of expression that the arts have to offer. “Dancing is my passion because of the joy and the fun that it brings. I’m always trying to grow as a performer because that’s supposed to be the aim. You don’t want to become complacent,” he tells TALLAWAH as we sit out front at their Cargill Avenue headquarters one recent evening.

Already, Grizzle is impressing important people in modern/contemporary dance. Thanks to Marisa Benain’s Plié for the Arts initiative, he snagged an internship/workshop with the well-regarded Complexions Company in New York last summer. It was a dually fulfilling and eye-opening experience for him. “That’s a very challenging and competitive environment to be in. You’re among people who’ve been dancing since they were two. But it was also a great learning experience for me because dancing professionally in the US and elsewhere on the international scene is a dream of mine,” he says. “I want to be travelling and dancing and choreographing for a living.”
Grizzle, who hails from Maverley, certainly looks the part. With his taut, slightly built physique and the regal poise and bearing he brings to his performances, he’s been transforming himself into a model student of his favourite art form. It will never be just a hobby for him. “I want to see passionate Jamaicans being able to do the performing arts and be able to sustain themselves from it. A lot of us can’t do that. We have to do a 9-to-5 and then pursue the art on the side,” shares the 24-year-old, who completed his degree in marketing at the Mona Campus.

Naturally, there’s a lot he’s looking forward to accomplishing. “I’m keeping my options open,” he says. “Working with a company like Alvin Ailey would be a dream come true, but no matter what happens I want to be dancing and performing for a living.”

And speaking of the big jobs, when The Lion King came to Jamaica to hold auditions in Kingston last year, Grizzle and several of his peers tried out. He got shortlisted, which he took as a very good sign. Says Grizzle, “I’m not giving up on that dream.”

Friday, 22 May 2020

THE BEAUTY PAGE: Manicure tips / Styling your hair for greatness / To nap or not to nap?

>> How to make your manicure last longer
Manicures can be especially prone to chipping as temperatures get cooler/colder and air loses moisture, making nails and skin drier. Here’s what the pros suggest: 1) Rub cuticle oil around your nails every night before bed to soften them, as this helps prevent nail breakage and chipping. 2) Every few days give the polish a refresh with a thin layer of clear top coat to help revive shine and ward off nicks. 3) When getting salon manicures, bring your own polish so you can do touch-ups at home.

>> The secret to lush, gorgeous hair
Scientists at the Good Housekeeping Lab have found that shampoos and conditioners labeled “volumizing” tend to have a lower level of conditioning ingredients that are less likely to wear hair down, making them a good foundation for styling… STYLE WHEN WET: Many styling products, like certain mousses and volumizing sprays, are meant to be applied to damp hair before drying for best results…HOT REVIVAL: At the end of the work day or between shampoos, revive limp hair by spritzing dry shampoo under sections of the hair at the roots, then lightly brushing through.

>> Sleeping Beauty: To nap or not to nap?
Per a review in Sleep Medicine, if you work the night shift or party too late, periodic short naps are fine. But to avoid waking up feeling super-groggy, doze in the afternoon (not in the morning or evening) for about 10 to 20 minutes.

CRITIC’S NOTEBOOK: Father HoLung & Friends win big at inventively staged Actor Boy Awards

>> ‘Isaiah’ leads the way among Actor Boy winners
For the first time in its 20-plus year history, the Actor Boy Awards had to be held in cyberspace, which made for an inventive and historic staging of the annual ceremony, dubbed the Oscars of Jamaican theatre. This year’s big winner was the Father HoLung & Friends mega-musical Isaiah, which walked away with seven awards, including the coveted Best Production prize. Among the other notable winners: Earle Brown, who copped Best Lead Actor for his performance in Once a Man, Twice A Wife; Dahlia Harris, who topped a competitive field to take home the Best Actress prize; Harris’ Straight Jacket co-star Sakina Deer won Best Supporting Actress, while Philip Clarke (Feminine Justice) was named supporting actor. Rounding out Straight Jacket’s five wins were trophies for Best Drama, Best Director (Patrick Brown and Trevor Nairne) and Best New Jamaican Play.

>> Life after COVID: What’s in store for Jamaican theatre?
Due to the abrupt and forced hiatus brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, things remain up in the air for local theatre productions for the foreseeable future. But for devoted playwrights and show producers like David Tulloch, this sabbatical from the stage has got the creative juices flowing in overdrive. To wit, Tulloch recently told TALLAWAH that he has completed no less than four scripts and is anxiously looking forward to mounting them when local playhouses get the green-light to reopen their doors for business. No doubt prolific scribes like Patrick Brown, Basil Dawkins, Fabian Barracks, Craig McNally and Dahlia Harris are also making ample use of the break to perfect their forthcoming offerings – and brawta. We can’t wait to see what they’ve been inspired to create this time around.

>> Bobby Clarke’s final curtain call
And isn’t it such sad news about Robert ‘Bobby’ Clarke, who recently lost his battle with cancer? I’ve always been a huge admirer of Clarke’s competence and utter professionalism as a theatre director, and his last big project, directing Ruckshon Junction for the LTM Pantomime Company (his most frequent collaborators) speaks volumes of his awesome skills at helming a show and bringing out the best in everybody he’s collaborating with. Walk good, Bobby.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

NEW MUSIC REVIEW: Must-hear tracks from Buju Banton, Rygin King, Chris Martin, Naomi Cowan and one-to-watch Jaz Elise

Naomi Cowan – “Climbing” 
We love to see a strong and independent sister reaching for new heights. Fast-rising songstress Naomi Cowan is carrying on the family legacy in fine form, continuing her exploits with this catchy, mid-tempo tune (check out the sexy video here!) about keeping your eyes on the prize. Get it, girl!. B+ [Take a listen

Chris Martin – “Little Green Apples” 
Christopher Martin’s tender strokes and crisp, clean vocals make all the difference on this instant hit, a remake of the Dennis Brown classic, about the perks of a great relationship. Smooth as silk. A- [Take a listen]

Rygin King – “Me, Myself & I” 
Dancehall disciple Rygin King has spent the last few years earnestly paying his dues and growing his fanbase. The hard work shows on this nicely crafted track (featuring some effective background vocals) that echoes the sentiments of countless youths whose drive and determination form the crux of their success game plan. B+ [Take a listen

Buju Banton feat. John Legend – “Memories” 
Almost a decade-and-a-half after scoring a smash hit with “Can’t Be My Lover” (off John Legend’s Evolver), the reggae icon and the R&B superstar have joined forces again on this sublime new lover’s anthem full of warmth and nostalgia and infectious melodies. Put it on repeat! A+ [Take a listen

TALLAWAH One-to-Watch Artiste 
Jaz Elise – “Rock and Groove” 
Blessed with a charming voice and super-confident delivery, the rising star hits all the right notes on this ear-pleasing track that certainly puts you in the groove. Something tells us there’s much more where this came from. B+ [Take a listen]

Monday, 18 May 2020

LIFE + STYLE: Make ‘wine’ cubes / Save your sensitive plants / Freshen up the house for less

>> Don’t let good wine go to waste
What to do with unfinished bottles of wine? If you don’t plan to drink it or cook with it before it goes bad, try this trick: Freeze it in ice-cube trays then simply pop out a cube when needed to chill a wine spritzer or to melt in a skillet for a quick pan sauce. A cube of frozen wine yields about two tablespoons.

>> Keep your house-plants looking lush and healthy
Have you noticed that despite regular watering the leaf tips of your beloved houseplants are turning brown? One possible culprit: chlorine, which is present in most tap water and can harm the growth of sensitive plants. To avoid this, let the water you plan to use sit out overnight before you pour it into the plant soil. This will allow the chlorine to dissipate, so your beautiful green plants get clean water. This is especially important for plants with thin leaves.

>> Brighten up your domestic space on a budget
According to the pros at, you can find lovely pieces that freshen up your home without costing a whole lot, especially if you’re a smart shopper. Discount stores and pop-up markets are replete with great finds that can allow you to add a few colourful bowls to the kitchen counter, put a jar of neon bulbs in your bathroom to make it more welcoming or place a decorative pillow or two in festive colours in your living room. In other words, freshening up the whole house without breaking the bank.

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Q-&-A: Top netball coach Dalton Hinds talks about the Sunshine Girls, people management and the future of the sport locally

PLAY MAKERS: Jamaica's Sunshine Girls in action at the 2019 Vitality Nations Cup in England. (Inset) Hinds holding court.

WHEN the curtains came down on the 2019 ISSA Schoolgirls Netball Competition at the Leila Robinson Courts in Kingston, Gaynstead High managed to hold on to their crown as junior urban-area queenpins. For winning coach Dalton Hinds, a veteran of the sport as coach and umpire, it was another feather in his cap. He later spoke to TALLAWAH about the growth of netball in Jamaica, his concerns and the new-look Sunshine Girls.

TALLAWAH: Are you impressed with the level of netball being played locally at the junior level? 
Dalton Hinds: From what I see, it’s growing and the talent displayed by the teams here today speak volumes of that growth. 

TALLAWAH: You’re known for your success coaching at the senior level and at the club level. What’s it like coaching high-schoolers? 
Dalton Hinds: Coaching at all levels, it’s been about making the necessary adjustments for each age group that you’re working with. Whether Under 16, Under 19 or adult, the focus is usually on developing the particular skill levels. 

TALLAWAH: Following the exit of Marvette Anderson and Winston Nevers, Connie Francis returned to take up head-coach duties with the senior Sunshine Girls. What are your expectations going forward? 
Dalton Hinds: The expectation is that the squad will pull together as a team and continue to do well. The aim, of course, is to get to number-one in the world. The level of coaching and expertise required is here. I’ve worked with the development squad, and what Netball Jamaica needs to always bear in mind is that proper people management is key. 

TALLAWAH: By all appearances, men’s netball in Jamaica is still making strides quietly. 
Dalton Hinds: I think it’s even more vibrant now. We recently had our league final, and we have the elite competition coming up. Men’s netball is more accepted now in Jamaica because netball as a sport is evolving. 

TALLAWAH: Indeed. Looking ahead, any overall concerns? 
Dalton Hinds: The level of officiating is what’s hurting the sport. It has to be consistent with the level of play. We’re still umpiring like in the 90s, and the game has evolved beyond that.

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

CHAT ’BOUT: Sarwan responds to Gayle controversy / Alorica defends its reputation / Bruce Golding issues a stern COVID warning, and more

“I categorically deny any involvement in the decision or the decision-making process, which led to [Chris] Gayle’s non-selection to represent the Jamaica Tallawahs in the 2020 CPL tournament. In that video he has levelled false allegations and tarnished the good name and reputation of a series of persons.” – Former West Indies batsman and Jamaica Tallawahs assistant coach Ramnaresh Sarwan 

“We are confident that our facilities and operations met and exceeded government requirements. We have fully cooperated with inquiries and inspections. These lies put the safety and security of our team members at risk.” – The management of much-publicized BPO firm Alorica Ltd. 

“In these circumstances, Caribbean governments, the private sector, political parties and trade unions need to collaborate on the actions they can jointly take to weather the gathering storm that has not yet fully formed. They also must prepare for the long haul.” – Antiguan ambassador to the United States Sir Ronald Sanders 

“There is a lesson in all this that I hope will survive the Covid-19 pandemic, and it is simply: countries of the world must recognize and accept that they can no longer rely on the United States as they have been accustomed to in the past.” – Former Jamaican prime minister Bruce Golding

“While it is good news for our client that he has been released, the bigger issue remains that there are many persons across the island who have basically resigned themselves, in the absence of representation, to spending their 90 days in lock-up. It cannot be right.” – Peter Champagnie QC, attorney for dancehall entertainer Dexta Daps

Saturday, 2 May 2020

THE E-BUZZ: Buju Banton talks life behind bars, new album / Why Tami Chin left the music industry / St. Lucia Zouks happy to have Gayle

>> How Buju Banton kept his sanity while in lock-up
By his own admission, if it weren’t for frequent introspection and soul-searching, Buju Banton would not have emerged whole last December after serving his 10-year prison sentence in Florida. “I kept my heart pure and my spirit calm because in the heart lies the issues. If I am able to keep my heart pure in all circumstances, I’ll be okay,” he revealed during a lengthy television interview with On Stage host Winford Williams. “I had newspapers to keep me abreast of what’s happening. But mostly I looked inside myself to see what was happening. I wasn’t looking out too much.” Now he’s fully focused on reconnecting with local fans and global reggae lovers who’ve been awaiting his return. “We want to make music for the masses, for everybody,” says the Grammy winner who is gearing up to drop his new album, Upside Down, before summer. “It’s for people who nuh hear Buju in a long while and for those who support our reggae music.”

>> New talk-show host Tami Chin reveals why she really quit music
While Tami Chin Mitchell’s recent foray into the media landscape has caught many onlookers by surprise, the original certified diva says such a career move was always in the cards for her. “I’m not surprised that I landed in radio. I realized that everything I’ve done so far has been preparing me for this – from being in music, being a mom, running a business and having a podcast. I love showing up every day with this purpose and intention,” she tells All Woman on the set of Live Out Loud, her new morning talk-show on The Edge 105 FM. And it’s official: the full-time mom (three sons and an extended/blended family at home) has bid farewell to her music recording career. This time for good. Why? “It wasn’t for any other reason than that I felt like being an artiste had served its purpose in my life,” she says. “I was ready for something else.”

>> Chris Gayle’s Zouks transfer sparks joy in St. Lucia camp
Chris Gayle will not be suiting up for the Jamaica Tallawahs this season. But Jamaica’s loss is St. Lucia’s gain. The record-setting batsman is set to score runs for the Zouks when the 2020 Hero CPL league bowls off in a few months. While skipper Darren Sammy says “St. Lucia and the fans will be happy that Jamaica has released [Gayle],” coach Andy Flowers says this surprising new development is “brilliant news.” Says Flowers, “I’ve seen his exploits in all three forms of the game, and I am really looking forward to working with him and Darren Sammy toward a special year for St. Lucia cricket.” The surprising decision by the Tallawahs management to not retain Gayle’s services – and Gayle’s YouTube video response – has been dominating sports headlines. The 2020 Hero CPL league is scheduled to commence in late August/early September.

Friday, 1 May 2020

STREET SMART: Windscream Posse brings marvelous mix of message, music and strong performances

JUST TO GET BY: The cast in scenes from the riotously funny production.

The Windscream Posse (Jambiz Productions)
Director: Patrick Brown and Trevor Nairne
Cast: Glen Campbell, Sakina Deer, David Crossgill, Keisha Patterson and Courtney Wilson
Venue: Centrestage Theatre, New Kingston

THE kids are not alright in The Windscream Posse. A timely retelling of Patrick Brown’s comedy classic Oliver’s Posse, it’s endlessly funny but comes laden with sharp social commentary, especially concerning the plight of youngsters who struggle every day to survive on the mean Kingston streets. 

We meet bad-boy posse leader Bull (Glen Campbell), who agrees to expand his gang to include runaways Chrissy (Keisha Patterson), Prettiesha (Sakina Deer) and Midget (David Crossgill), who each share painful stories explaining why the streetside is now their base. Thanks to Bull’s tough-love tutelage, cleaning car glasses at the stoplight becomes their new means of earning money.

The bane of their existence is rowdy, trigger-happy cop Lickshot (Courtney Wilson), who wants them off the street, an end to their nuisance. But with nowhere to go, they have to roll with the punches. Until, at last, fortune smiles on them.

Oliver’s Posse was a true original but, even so, Windscream’s combination of a stellar cast, gallons of humour, musical flair and a big finish easily makes the production another winner for the Jambiz posse. 

Its thought-provoking message stays with you long after the lights go down. As Brown underscores, many of Jamaica’s street kids hail from broken homes and dysfunctional families, victims of vicious circumstances that will break you if you lack the will to strive against the odds, to fight for your chance. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+