Friday, 3 April 2020

Q-&-A: Keisha Patterson talks about the plight of street kids, why Reggae Month matters, and being a nature lover

PLAYING TO HER STRENGTHS: "So far it's an exciting work-in-progress. It's not been easy," Patterson says of working on her new album.

With her knack for convincingly portraying headstrong lasses (Cutie in Frank The Freak; Julie in Romi & Julie), Keisha Patterson seems ideally cast as Chrissy, the brainy-sassy one in Jambiz's latest musical comedy, The Windscream Posse, which is about homeless kids who band together to survive on the mean Kingston streets.

It's a role that has Patterson thinking about the social commentary at the heart of the play. As the show's producers hit the pause button due to the coronavirus outbreak, the singer-actress dishes with TALLAWAH about the rough world out there for young outcasts, plus her sophomore album-in-progress, and more.

TALLAWAH: What has been the most eye-opening thing about playing a street kid in The Windscream Posse?

Keisha Patterson: The most eye-opening thing for me was the different backgrounds they all come from. The different stories that they have: for example, one ran away, one was abused, one was orphaned. And thinking about the different backgrounds you realize it's not a choice that these kids make to be on the street.

TALLAWAH: In your view, what  more can the government and government agencies do to ameliorate the situation islandwide?

KP: I'd suggest the opening of more shelters for them and a kind of placement system. There have to be better options than wiping a car glass at the stop-light.

TALLAWAH: Let's switch gears and talk about the recent observance of Reggae Month. How important is it to set aside a special month to honour our music?

KP: It's good. The month itself is important. We do celebrate reggae throughout the year, but one month dedicated to events and other activities is good for the industry.

TALLAWAH: Speaking of music, it's been more than a decade since you released your jazzy-funky solo debut, Sunday Kind of Love. What do you want your next album to sound like?

KP: (Laughs). I love jazz and reggae. That's been my foundation, and that's where my spirit is. So I'll definitely be continuing with that fusion, mixed with different elements of the world. So far it's an exciting work-in-progress. It's not been easy. I'm working with Dalton Browne again and doing most of the writing, but other writers are contributing as well. 

TALLAWAH: When you're not working, how do you like to spend your spare time?

KP: I love to be in nature, go to the beach, visit parks. That's my vibe. I love greenery, love nature and reflecting and meditating.

Monday, 30 March 2020

THE BEAUTY PAGE: Nadine Blair’s self-love philosophy / Coconut oil as makeup remover / Getting rid of eye puffiness

>>BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL: How Nadine Blair learned to love the skin she’s in 
For radio listeners and gospel concertgoers, Nadine Blair has always come off as one of the most confident and self-assured people on the planet. But, by her own admission, not many people know that she’s been struggling with self-esteem issues for years. “It took me years to come to a place of accepting me for who I am. I am Black. I am dark-skinned, and I have a big nose and a big forehead. It was a real struggle growing up,” she tells All Woman. She remembers episodes back in the day when her light-skinned best friend would get all the attention from handsome young men, making her sometimes feel hurt, invisible. “It took me a while to learn that I was good enough,” the Love 101 host and author (Sing Your Song) says now. “It is something I still struggle with to a degree, but not as it was growing up.” Her advice for today’s young people: love yourself. “Right now I find joy in going and talking with young people,” says Blair, “because I want them to know that they are enough.” 

>>BEYOND THE KITCHEN: What coconut oil brings to the beauty counter 
Do you know what some smart and thrifty beauty babes use when they’ve run out of makeup remover? Coconut oil! According to the editors at Woman’s World, its antibacterial, antifungal and detergent-like properties make it excellent at removing dirt, oil and makeup from the face. What’s more, the oil’s fatty acids hydrate, so your skin doesn’t feel tight and dry like some makeup removers tend to do to the skin. How it works: For one minute, massage 1 teaspoon of coconut oil on to dry skin with makeup on, then rinse. 

>>THE EYES HAVE IT: How to cure eye puffiness 
Freeze two tea bags and rest them beneath your eyes for 2 minutes. The coldness and the tea’s tannins will rapidly reduce inflammation and swelling that makes your under-eyes look puffy.

NATURAL HABITAT: Inaugural Easter festival to heighten promotion of Hope Gardens as national green space

ON A MISSION: Barrington Bucknor, Lady Allen, Alfred Thomas, Tenesia Ramkisson and Hugh Porter sharing ideas at the recent launch.

JAMAICA needs more free-to-the-public green spaces. That’s the word from Lady Allen, patron of the Nature Preservation Foundation (NPF), who was delivering greetings at last Tuesday’s launch of the inaugural Hope Gardens Easter Festival, held at the botanical gardens in St. Andrew.

As Lady Allen and the event organizers explained, the aim of the festival is to heighten promotion of the property as a national green space that needs to be protected and further improved for the generations to come. “It’s the people’s gardens. It’s a beautiful space, but there are some things that are still lacking, like adequate bathroom facilities,” Lady Allen noted. “So some of the monies that are raised will be going to that sort of thing.”

According to the First Lady, the national importance of a property like the 200-acre Hope Gardens cannot be understated. “It’s a place of peace and quiet, where students can come and study. It’s a place that we cherish and we work hard to maintain. And we want more such green spaces. There aren’t enough of them across Jamaica.”

Alfred Thomas, the NPF Chairman, concurred. “At the moment, this is one of the only major green spaces available to the children and people of Jamaica, and we have been tasked to preserve it,” he said. “The gardens are over 100 years old, and we are on a mission for its redevelopment. We are appealing to corporate [Jamaica] to support the work we’re doing here, and we want other sponsors to come on board to support.”

Meanwhile, Jamaica Broilers, Grace, the RJR/Gleaner Group, RADA and Stewart’s Auto are among the sponsors already confirmed for the festival, initially scheduled for Easter Monday, April 13, prior to the coronavirus outbreak.

The event promises a host of fun activities for the whole family, says project team leader, Barrington Bucknor. In addition to a farmers’ market, children’s village and a free zoo tour, patrons will enjoy live musical performances from top reggae and dancehall acts, a car show (vintage and modern whips on display), a karaoke competition and a massive Jamaica Broilers food court.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK: School of Drama connects with Touch / Jamaican artists and COVID-19 / David Tulloch's political ambitions

Just before local schools closed recently due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Edna Manley College's School of Drama premiered its 2020 children's theatre production, Touch, playing for two weekends to much-deserved rave reviews. Conceived by Janet Muirhead-Stewart, Touch is a clever, humour-filled musical dramedy for the young and young at heart that doesn't gloss over the serious issues lodged at its core (child abuse, sexual misconduct) but explores them with a fun, light-hearted approach. Using a playground (and occasionally the domestic space as its setting), it's about how trusted authority figures abuse the trust and power they have over vulnerable and impressionable kids. Kids like Sasha, Johnny and Sonny, who are being abused by a stepfather, auntie and uncle respectively, until a no-nonsense (but comically accident-prone) female police officer intervenes and puts them behind bars. the playground serves as a powerful metaphor for life, and the play itself, boasting committed performances from talented student actors, offers a staunch reminder that what we learn from children includes things we too often overlook.

>> 'I WILL SURVIVE': J'can artists vs. COVID-19
Due to the sudden onslaught of COVID-19 that has brought about movement restrictions, artists, artisans and other creatives are feeling the economic pinch more than ever across the globe. But according to Kingston Creative's Andrea Dempster-Chung, the moment offers opportunities for practitioners to stay afloat without falling into the 'starving artist' bracket. "Start telling people how they can find you online, where they can browse your products and how they can donate to offer support, pay online for products, watch your live stream or call you for delivery," she notes. "What lessons can artists take from the global arts community as they respond to COVID-19? There are some real opportunities to rethink the way that we do business in the creative economy... This is a time of high stress, and it's precisely now that arts and culture are needed the most."

By all accounts, David Tulloch is serious about fulfilling his lifelong dream of entering politics. Representing the Dr. Peter Phillips-led People's National Party (PNP), the award-winning playwright and producer has taken up the gauntlett and wll be challenging the Jamaica Labour Party's Delroy Chuck for the St. Andrew North East seat during the next General Elections. A second-generation candidate, Tulloch is the son of another one-time parliamentarian Francis Tulloch.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

COMMUNITY BEAT: News + Notes from Negril to Morant Point

PORTLAND: To meet the growing demand and ensure adequate supply for residents, especially during dry periods, Rural Water Supply Limited (RWSL) and the National Water Commission (NWC) will be carrying out system upgrading work in the eastern and western sections of the parish. The installation and repairing of water tanks and the replacement of pipes and fixtures are among the specific projects to be undertaken. According to Senator Pearnel Charles Jr. (Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation), for work in areas like Charles Town/Kildare, where old water pipes are being replaced, the overall bill is approximately $65 million. 

CLARENDON: Fifteen communities based in the Upper Rio Minho Watershed (URMW) are now better able to prepare for disaster impacts and other hazards, as risk profiles, disaster risk reduction and climate-change adaptation plans for the communities have now been developed. The communities include, among others, Summerfield, Pennants, Crooked River, Kellits and Chapelton. The area is considered one of the major groundwater-producing basins in Jamaica, with annual abstration reaching about 400 million cubic metres within a year. 

KINGSTON: Following Cabinet’s approval for the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) to grant a nearly one-million-dollar contract for the construciton exercise, work is expected to commence soon on a Port Royal Street coastal revetment project. Information minister Karl Samuda says the roadway will be raised to reduce flooding risks from heavy showers, while the minor drains will also be upgraded. At the same time, a 4.7-km boardwalk will be constructed for recreational use, and an 80-metre fishing beach will be put in place to accommodate fisherfolk.

MAN IN THE MIRROR: Career banker and Scotia CEO David Noel draws on consummate professionalism to get the job done

POWER PLAYER: “I actually started out in law but felt drawn to banking,” Noel shares.

ON Friday, March 13, Scotiabank Jamaica hosted its Annual General Meeting (AGM) with shareholders at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston. CEO David Noel, sharply turned out in a sleek navy blue suit, was once again tasked with assuring valued customers that the bank’s operations remain at the usual high standard – even amidst the dreaded coronavirus crisis, which has sparked islandwide fears.

Noel aced his presentation and handled himself impressively with the tough questions during Q-&-A. You immediately see why he was given the top job. up. “I actually started out in law but felt drawn to banking,” he reveals. “Law provides you with a certain type of training. In banking, I get to help clients with investment advice. Both are rewarding, I’d say, and I always enjoy leading a strong team.”

But, to say the least, this first quarter of 2020 has presented him with one of the toughest periods of his career as a leader in the banking sector. As he tells TALLAWAH, he had to huddle with his team recently to draft a strategy for dealing with the COVID-19 emergency, when it comes to bank staff and customer interactions.

“So far we’ve been able to implement certain measures to ensure that customers are fine when interacting with us. We’ve also asked our professional cleaners to come in more regularly to clean and disinfect,” he explains. “And we’ve invested in antibacterial gel dispensers for all our branches across the island.”

The global health crisis aside, Noel continues to carry out functions that draw on all his skills and years of training. “The most critical role of CEO, I’d say, is ensuring that the needs of our investors, shareholders and all our customers are met adequately and consistently. It’s critical that we have staff that is appropriately trained and we’re making the right investments in technology,” he tells TALLAWAH. “We don’t always get it right, but we make the best effort. Scotia has been in Jamaica for 130 years, and we very much feel a part of the community.”

Noel, a University of the West Indies (Mona) graduate, has been working in the Jamaican banking sector for about two decades, two as Scotia CEO. Interestingly, banking was not his top career choice as a kid growing up. “I actually started out in law but felt drawn to banking,” he reveals. “Law provides you with a certain type of training. In banking, I get to help clients with investment advice. Both are rewarding, I’d say, and I always enjoy leading a strong team.”

Now in his 40s, David Noel smartly makes time to reflect on where his eventful journey has brought him – not to mention his evolution into a well-rounded and enviably successful public figure. What advice would he give his teenage self? “Build strong and lasting relationships as you go along, but make time for fun,” offers the industry veteran, who stands at about six-foot-two. “Have a thirst for knowledge, in many different areas.”

How does he spend his downtime? “I like football, but I’m not very good at it,” says the Arsenal fan. “I think I enjoy watching the game more than playing.”

Thursday, 19 March 2020

MAN OF THE MOMENT: Andre Russell’s return to top form brings well-deserved accolades

BACK ON TOP: “I have a different approach this time around,” Russell says.

LAST summer, a terrible knee problem put Andre Russell on layoff, away from the cricket field and the sport he’s so immensely passionate about. But with his fighting spirit firmly intact he’s worked his way back from injury to the international spotlight and the commencement of a new chapter in a storied and ever-evolving career as a sportsman.

“I did a lot of rehab, made a lot of sacrifices – just being home working out and strengthening my body and doing stuff to make sure I’m fit again,” the towering Jamaica and West Indies star tells the Observer’s Sanjay Myers. “I also did a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) and also a stem-cell injection. Since I got those done, my knee has been feeling very good. I think a disciplined diet and avoiding hard-surface running [also helped].”

Out and about again and impressing selectors, he was recalled to the West Indies side in February for the two-match Twenty20 international against Sri Lanka in early March. For the all-rounder, earning a place in the regional team is like the ideal validation of what he brings to the game. “I’m happy to be back in the maroon. I think playing for your region is always the best thing,” he says. “And that’s what I’ve been working on for the last couple of months. I’m happy to be back.” 

No kidding. Per reports, Russell went on to give “an exhilarating Man-of-the-Match performance” as the Windies swept the series with a convincing 7-wicket victory over the Sri Lankans. He was also dubbed Man of the Series. According to the CMC, “it was Russell who really grabbed the attention with a stunning 14-ball unbeaten 40, which took the world champions over the line.” 

His international future looked bleak because of a bad knee in need of surgery. Fast-forward a year later and Andre Russell, who turns 32 in April, is once again in fine form and has every intention of staying there. “Maybe I put pressure on myself playing for the West Indies because I want to do so well,” he tells Myers. “I have a different approach this time around. I’m just going to do my thing, and don’t overthink anything... I hope I can eventually bowl faster.”