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
Khalia
“Easy”
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+
**

Kiprich
“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
**

I-Octane
“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 purechocolatecompany.com

>> 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: trumpettreecoffee@gmail.com) 

>> 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 Facebook.com/herboobotanicals)









Tuesday, 14 July 2020

THE E-BUZZ: Bolt’s baby joy / Studio time with Stephen McGregor / Shaggy’s irie Christmas gift

>> Our sweet ‘Olympia’: Usain and Kasi reveal their daughter’s name 
The world is already in love with her. Proud parents Usain Bolt and Kasi Bennett have posted new Instagram pics of their precious baby girl, as they finally revealed her given name: Olympia Lightning Bolt. In a heartfelt message to his daughter, Bolt expressed his endless affection for her while vowing to be the best possible dad he can be. Olympia came into the world on May 17 and is the first child for the retired sprinting legend and his leading lady. 

>> Hit Maker: New collabs help producer Stephen McGregor hone his creative skills  
Super-producer Stephen ‘Di Genius’ McGregor continues to impressively expand his résumé, working with some of the biggest names in international music, most recently EGOT honoree John Legend, who recently dropped his latest album, Bigger Love, featuring two songs (the title track and “Don’t Walk Away” with Koffee) crafted by McGregor. “It’s an honour to be a part of such an amazing body of work, and it really just affirms that as a musician/producer you should never box yourself into a creative genre and just focus on being creative,” he said in a recent interview. “This makes it easier for us to blend cultures and keep the music fun.” 

>> A Jamrock Xmas: Shaggy wants holiday album to capture the Jamaican spirit 
“I don’t want no icy Christmas. The only ice I want is in my cup with some rum.” That’s a lyric from Shaggy’s in-the-works Christmas album, which promises to showcase what it truly means to enjoy the holidays ah yard. “It’s about creating a Caribbean-style Christmas vibe because the only Christmas I know is in Jamaica,” he noted in a recent interview. “If you’ve ever been to Jamaica at Christmas, it’s the most fun you can have.” Shaggy, who won the 2019 Best Reggae Album Grammy for 44/876 (with Sting), says fans will indeed appreciate how the music authentically reflects the island experience he so cherishes. “I’m from a culture where there’s beach, rum and weed,” he says. “I don’t see why Christmas should be any different.”










Monday, 13 July 2020

TRUTH TO POWER: 5 things we learned from Buju Banton’s provocative Vibe magazine cover story

ON HIS MIND: “I’m not doing anything different. I do what I normally do,” Banton says.

PROMOTING his buzzworthy comeback album, Upside Down, Buju Banton is rocking the July 2020 cover of Vibe magazine. In the lengthy article, penned by iconic music journalist Rob Kenner, the reggae legend doesn’t mince words as he reflects, gives some analysis and speak truth to power. Below, some excerpts.

>> The Jay-Z/Roc Nation deal carries great significance
 “The partnership is important because our music needs a presence, a global presence. The fact that it is a Black-owned enterprise, we expect to be treated differently and our genre to be given equal footing. Because it’s not about even now. It should be about our industry – Black excellence. That’s it.

>> How strength, courage and wisdom will see us through
“Tell my fans do not be distracted by all the things that are taking place around them because it is designed to thrown them off kilter, to make moral decadence even more widespread than it already is, and plunge people into a state of darkness.”

>> What today’s music is missing: genuine artistry and creativity
“They’re trying to reverse the progress that we have made over the years through the music. And now the music is meaningless. It doesn’t stimulate, it doesn’t educate, it doesn’t reinvigorate. All it does is get you angry because it’s filled with nothing but narcissists exalting themselves over the earthly possessions that they have managed to get. They don’t even have anything – it’s crumbs. And therefore the music is suffering. The people are suffering. Sadness and gloom is prevailing. It’s widespread. But be patient. Because remember suffering may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

>> Jamaica’s music deserved better on the global stage
“Reggae music faces the most degrading treatment as an art from the global community. Reggae artistes are the most disrespected. The most underpaid. Treated like animals in terms of the way our music is dealt with. What does reggae bring to the world? It brings something that no other music carry: soul.

>> Buju Banton (still) loves the simple life
“I’m not doing anything different. I do what I normally do. Get up, give thanks and praises. Work in my studio to create the music for the masses. Nothing has changed. I still have my daily routine… So I’m okay and I don’t need to have a crowd around me to get what I need to get done. So I’m kinda safe.









Saturday, 11 July 2020

COMMUNITY BEAT: Aerodrome in St. Bess to be upgraded, plus more parish news

St. Mary: Health minister Dr. Christopher Tufton says his ministry has been paying keen attention to gaps in the health-care system and have come up with a plan for “quality access” so ailing citizens can be served in their parishes without having to make the trek into the corporate area to access health services. To that end, the government is investing $180 million to improve the services currently on offer at the Annotto Bay Hospital. At a recent groundbreaking ceremony, Minister Tufton said construction is slated to last for about 14 months. In addition to a new lab and physiotherapy building, the hospital’s new facilities will include a conference room, office space for senior medical staff and a blood bank. 

St. Andrew: Water is life. That remains the simple slogan of the National Water Commission (NWC), which has come to the rescue of scores of residents, recently replacing the Ferry pipeline. Known as the Ferry Eighteen-inch System, it serves communities along Washington Boulevard up to Dunrobin Avenue, interconnecting with a transmission main along Constant Spring Road. Among the communities to be positively impacted are Washington Gardens, Upper Waltham, sections of Molynes Road, Seaward Drive and Olympic Way. NWC president Mark Burnett says the new pipeline forms part of their comprehensive plans for efficient water distribution and to build resiliency and reliability within the network. 

St. Elizabeth: As the transport ministry deepens plans to expand and improve Jamaica’s aviation industry, a number of airport development projects are in the works. According to Minister Robert Montague, the Lionel Denham aerodrome will be upgraded under a reverse public-private partnership. The project is expected to cost taxpayers approximately $103 million. Other domestic aerodromes being eyed for rehabilitation and reactivation include Clarendon’s Vernamfield and the Holland Bamboo airstrip, also located in St. Bess.










LIFE & STYLE: White egg, brown egg / Introducing the Amazon Smart Oven / What ‘toolbox divas’ know

Face Value: Does the colour of an egg mean something? 
According to nutrition experts, the shell colour doesn’t indicate anything significant about the egg’s quality or its nutritional value. That is determined by hen breed. Hens that lay brown eggs tend to be bigger and require more food, which is why those eggs tend to be more expensive. 

The Future of Cooking: Kitchens ain’t ready for the Amazon Smart Oven 
Technology is making food preparation that much easier for busy households. Say hello to the Amazon Smart Oven, one of the buzziest new appliances taking the market by storm. You can sync this oven with an Echo device and ask Alexa to preheat it. Or why not scan your packaged food with the app and then let the oven take over the cooking? Alexa will alert you when dinner is ready.

Cool website: Toolbox Divas 
This DIY site, which aims to empower women all over the world by teaching them handy skills, was started by savvy US-based entrepreneur Timisha Porcher. “[Doing things myself] started out as a budget necessity,” she tells Better Homes & Gardens. “But it has turned into the thrill of looking at something and thinking, I made that! It gives me a sense of pride.”










Thursday, 9 July 2020

NEWS FEED: The Sexual Harrassment Bill / Birth of the JPP / Attracting more tourists to Falmouth

UNDER THE LAW: Breaking down the new Sexual Harrassment Bill 
Specifically, sexual harassment is not recognized on the books in Jamaica. Given the call for a statute to be introduced to protect citizens, a Sexual Harrassment Bill is now being reviewed by a joint select committee in the House of Parliament. The bill outlines the types of conduct that constitutes sexual harassment, while prohibiting certain related conducts. It also makes provisions for the complaints to be filed by persons who’ve been victims of various degrees of harassment. Committee chair Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange says it’s long overdue. “We need to put money into a public education programme to change attitudes and to change the culture,” she says. “We have to invest in making people more aware and to sensitize the public [about certain behaviours that] need adjusting.” 


FORWARD IN FAITH: Are we ready for the Jamaica Progressive Party? 
Shutting down strip clubs, abolishing income tax, raising the minimum wage and resuscitating the national carrier, Air Jamaica, are only a few of the target points being weaved into the developing narrative of the newly formed Jamaica Progressive Party (JPP), a church-based organization headed up by President Gilbert Edwards, a medical technologist by training, and General Secretary Pastor Robert Rainford. By mid-July, the Electoral Commission of Jamaica will decide if the party has been officially approved and stands to become the fourth party registered by the ECJ to contest the General Elections constitutionally due next year. “We have been doing work for four years,” General Secretary Rainford (above) noted in in an interview with the Gleaner, “and we are just now coming out for the public to see who we are and to support us going forward.” 


COMING ATTRACTION: New $700-M artisan village to open near Falmouth Pier 
As is in answer to the prayers of Trelawney residents who’ve long lamented the absence of a major attraction to serve as a strong foreign-exchange draw for Falmouth and its environs, the tourism ministry just announced the impending opening of an artisan village in the resort town – in the vicinity of the Falmouth Pier. Per Minister Ed Bartlett, the official opening of the village, constructed to the tune of $700 million, will hopefully coincide with the return of cruise ships to Falmouth later this year. “A few final details surrounding electricity are to be completed,” the minister points out, “separate from that, the village is ready. One hundred and seventy-five persons have been trained to offer [a] unique experience to Jamaicans and visitors alike.”









Saturday, 4 July 2020

MAN IN THE MIRROR: David Tulloch steps into the political ring fuelled by hope and ambition

THE CANDIDATE: “I’m not going to let my inexperience cloud my judgement,” says the 39-year-old contender.

FOR the last ten years, David Tulloch has been patiently waiting for an opportunity to enter the world of political representation. His time has come. But, interestingly, for his first assignment, the rookie politician (freshly minted PNP caretaker for North East St. Andrew), is going up against a juggernaut of Jamaican politics. “Delroy Chuck is a veteran, and he’s had the constituency for the last five elections,” Tulloch points out, speaking with TALLAWAH in New Kingston.

What Tulloch has in his arsenal is that famous blend of drive and determination, reliability and a willingness to go the extra mile for a cause he wholeheartedly believes in. “I’m not going to let my inexperience cloud my judgement,” he says. “People and progress is what I love. And win or lose, I’ll still be the party’s caretaker for the constituency, and that’s a responsibility to be taken seriously.”

Besides, Tulloch feels the people of North East, largely comprise of middle-lower income families, are ready for new representation. And he’s the man for the job. “I think, generally, people are ready for a younger and more innovative approach to the job of MP,” he notes, highlighting such communities/areas as Grant’s Pen, Constant Spring, Standpipe, Barbican and Shortwood, which have no shortage of socio-economic woes.

“The youth need to be engaged more. A lot of them are unemployed and that can lead to miscreant activity. Also, a lot of the residents are business people but most of those businesses are located outside the constituency. That is something I’m very passionate about changing.”

Passion has always been a driving force in David Tulloch’s life, charting his journey from academic standout at Wolmer’s to multi-award-winning thespian and show producer to his current perch as a second-generation politico. (David’s father, Francis, now 80, served constituencies in Hanover and St. James back in the day.)
This fresh chapter is utterly time-consuming and has him keenly focused on his next moves, not to mention the needs of the constituents. Even so, Tulloch is smartly making adequate time for himself – to remain whole and sane. “At this age, you don’t have time for mistakes. Things have changed. I’ve been praying a lot, thinking a lot, and just being grateful for this opportunity,” says the multi-talented go-getter (and father of two), who turned 39 in late April. 

Compiling material for a couple of book projects and working on new plays have not exactly taken a backseat, but Tulloch is clear as to what his immediate professional priorities are. What’s more, there’s been widespread talk, especially in recent weeks, that Jamaicans could go to the polls later this year, though the next General Elections are constitutionally due in 2021. “I’m now putting together a campaign team,” he reveals, “and raising funds to sustain the work that I plan to do.”