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Sean Paul is one of the biggest Jamaican Dancehall international sensations. Having scored hit records and collaborations with icons across musical genres, he has cemented himself as one of the greatest exports from Jamaica. Having a career spanning decades, Sean Paul continues to reinvent himself and give the world music that becomes household bangers.

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Beres Hammond - Love From a Distance

Beres Hammond performed in a live virtual concert from Harmony House studos in Kingston, Jamaica. A virtuoso performane from the Reggae Icon you will watch over and over again. Beres performed hit after hit and had had some special guests who underscored the richness of Jamaican music. I watched it live and it was simply on fire!!!!!!

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When former Miss Jamaica Davina Bennett landed the part as the love interest in a Maluma music video, she thought she’d be taping a regular four-minute music video. Instead, she was cast as the Colombian star’s muse in #7DJ (Siete Días en Jamaica – Seven Days in Jamaica), companion film to the seven-song EP of the same name that tracks Maluma’s trip to Jamaica, in search of a spiritual rebirth.

 

And Bennett’s role became something far more significant than mere screen time or high-profile exposure.

“There are other music videos, but few consider, ‘Let us merge cultures, let us merge Black and white,'" says the 2017 Miss Universe runner-up. "To see Latin, reggae, dancehall, Black and white come together and create something epic like this is a whole other level." 


For Bennett, proudly representing Caribbean and Black culture is not new. In 2017, she made headlines when she took the stage at the Miss Universe pageant with an afro, her natural hair, becoming the first Black woman to be crowned among the top three to do so. In “7 Días,” she wears dreadlocks, emblematic of Jamaica, and is a constant player in a visual work that went to great lengths to stay true to the island’s roots and traditions.

“She’s not just beautiful, but a big ambassador of her own culture,” says Maluma.
8536729092?profile=RESIZE_584xDavina Bennett and Maluma
Phraa
Bennett spoke to Billboard about the significance of Black presence in a Latin music video, especially coinciding with Black History Month. “I hope we become a domino for others to follow,” she says.


I’m making an effort to think of videos where you have a white Latin superstar with a beautiful Black woman as the model, and I can’t think of many…

I’ve never seen it. I think that’s why social media is eating it up. It’s an immense sense of pride. It’s also very overwhelming, because sometimes I think, "Is this real?" I’ve been in this position once before, representing Jamaica in Miss Universe, and being the first woman to rock my Afro -- and that was a big thing for my country, and for Afro and brown girls. To be in the same position, rocking another hair style and showing unity between two countries and two cultures… I don’t have words to express it.

You’re opening a big door. It’s amazing there haven’t been more instances, right?
It feels the same as when I did Miss Universe. This pageant is over 60 years [of history] and you’re telling me there has never been a Black woman with an Afro in the top three? And there are other music videos, and they have never considered: Let us merge cultures, let us merge Black and white. It’s mind blowing. But, someone has to do it first. Someone has to be the first domino on that table.


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Every Song on Maluma's '#7DJ (7 Días En Jamaica)' Ranked: Critic's Picks
The album is called 7 Días In Jamaica, and it truly is an homage to Jamaica, showing so much of the island. Did it surprise you to see how prominently Jamaica is featured?

What makes it even better for me is there’s the combination of two cultures: Latin from Colombia and reggaetón and dancehall from Jamaica, and that makes it even greater. Maluma incorporates people like Ziggy Marley, Charly Black. For you to not just come to our country, but also use Jamaican creatives, a Jamaican girl, Jamaican artists -- it’s not cultural appropriation, but literally paying homage. It’s not, “I’m coming to your island, taking credit and leaving.” It’s about us. It goes in-depth in terms of our culture, how we portray ourselves. Even down to the drink we have in our hand, Red Stripe, is unique to the Caribbean. 

8536727859?profile=RESIZE_710xDavina Bennett
Eve Harlowe

Your hairdos are incredible. Tell me about them?

We decided to do locks [dreadlocks], which is a great representation. We are Rastafarian. Mellisa Dawkins, my hair stylist, would come up with these ideas on the spot. This woman just transformed each look into something amazing. It was such a great representation in my country. Locks are discriminated [against] in many places. And to show locks can be styled, they can be elegant, flirty -- it’s something I’m extremely proud of.

There was a highly publicized case of locks and discrimination in Jamaica recently, right?


Last year there was a discrimination case in Jamaica, because a little girl went to school with her locks and she was sent home. This is a big slap in the face. We are known for our locks. If you’re going to send a girl home for wearing locks, you might as well spit on us. So to be able to be on a [major] platform and use locks is a big deal, not just as a Jamaican woman but as a Caribbean woman. I hope this will tell people: “It’s not OK to discriminate against natural hair.” Because it is natural hair. And it’s a disgrace that today you would tell someone you can’t wear your hair like that.

Normally, how do you prefer to wear your hair?

Afro. It’s more relaxed. I’m someone who doesn’t comb her hair every day. So my Afro is my every day hairstyle.

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Ky-Mani Marley, Davina Bennett, Julian Marley & Rohan Marley
Courtesy of Davina Bennett

You also shot in Colombia, in Medellín, but also in Barú, a beautiful beach close to Cartagena. How was that experience?

I’ve never experienced anything quite like that, where they appreciate Black beauty [to that degree]. It had nothing to do with being Miss Jamaica. In Barú, people would walk up to me and say, “We have the same skin. We’re family. We don’t even speak the same language, and just because of our skin there’s a connection.” I was in awe of the fact that these people were appreciative of who I am, my beauty and my color.

Did you talk to Maluma about these things?


I asked Maluma why he decided to do Jamaica. And he said, "Our cultures are so similar. There is a lot of diversity in Colombia. Our cultures intertwine." He just wanted to connect the two. And it’s amazing someone as big as Maluma can come to small Jamaica and find the uniqueness and the things that make us one. To be able to create an entire album paying homage to that is an iconic and very brave move. And it was executed in a way that both sides should be very proud of. I am, anyway. It’s a white guy from Colombia falling in love with a Jamaican woman with dreadlocks.

How did you meet Maluma?

I first met him in Jamaica. I was a little bit nervous. But I think it’s because I had to kiss him. It was in the script. I thought, "Oh Lord." I don’t want to make a fool of myself. But, yes he’s a very good kisser. And the kissing scene was quite a delight.

 
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A New Day Dawns

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States yesterday, declaring that “democracy has prevailed” and summoning American resilience and unity to confront the deeply divided nation's historic confluence of crises.

Biden took the oath at a US Capitol that had been battered by an insurrectionist siege just two weeks earlier. On a cold Washington morning dotted with snow flurries, the quadrennial ceremony unfolded within a circle of security forces evocative of a war zone and devoid of crowds because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, Biden gazed out over 200,000 American flags planted on the National Mall to symbolise those who could not attend in person.

“The will of the people has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded. We've learned again that democracy is precious and democracy is fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed,” Biden said. “This is America's day. This is democracy's day. A day in history and hope, of renewal and resolve.”

History was made at his side, as Kamala Harris became the first woman to be vice-president. The former US senator from California is also the first black person and the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice-presidency and the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in the US Government.

Biden never mentioned his predecessor, who defied tradition and left town ahead of the ceremony, but his speech was an implicit rebuke of Donald Trump. The new president denounced “lies told for power and for profit” and was blunt about the challenges ahead.

Central among them: the surging virus that has claimed more than 400,000 lives in the United States, as well as economic strains and a national reckoning over race.

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The Hon. Gordon "Butch" Stewart O.J. 1941-2021: Legendary Jamaican Entrepreneur Redefined 'All-Inclusive' and Changed the Way the World Went on Vacation

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica, Jan. 5, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Legendary Jamaican entrepreneur Gordon "Butch" Stewart, one of the hospitality industry's most vibrant personalities and founder of Sandals Resorts International, the world's leading all-inclusive resort company, has died at the age of 79. An unstoppable force, who delighted in defying the odds by exceeding expectations, Stewart single-handedly built the world's most awarded vacation brand from one resort in Jamaica to over two dozen distinct resorts and villas throughout the Caribbean.

A son of Jamaica, Butch Stewart was born in Kingston on July 6, 1941 and grew up along the island country's North Coast, a tropical paradise that now boasts several of his Luxury Included® Sandals and Beaches Resorts and where his love of the sea, dominoes and free enterprise were sown. Certain from the start that he wanted to run his own company, at the tender age of 12, Stewart first stepped into the hospitality industry selling fresh-caught fish to local hotels. His success got him 'hooked' and his enthusiasm for entrepreneurship never waned.

After completing his secondary education abroad, Stewart returned home to Jamaica where he demonstrated his innate talent as master salesman at the renowned Dutch-owned Curaçao Trading Company, quickly rising to the position of sales manager but itching to start his own company. In 1968, Stewart took his chance. With no collateral but recognizing the comfort that would make air conditioning an essential service, Stewart convinced American manufacturer Fedders Corporation to allow him to represent their brand in Jamaica. With that, Stewart's foundational business - Appliance Traders Limited (ATL), was born and he was on his way.

At ATL, Stewart developed a simple business philosophy he articulated many times: "Find out what people want, give it to them and in doing so - exceed their expectations." This would become the standard for every Stewart enterprise and practiced by every employee of the many companies Stewart would go on to found, including and perhaps most importantly, Sandals Resorts International.

Stewart Founds Sandals Resorts
In 1981, with a gift for recognizing opportunity, Stewart found one in Bay Roc: a rundown hotel on a magnificent beach in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Seven months and $4 million in renovations later, Sandals Montego Bay would open as the flagship of what is today the most popular award-winning, all-inclusive resort chain in the world.

While Stewart never laid claim to inventing the all-inclusive concept, he is recognized worldwide for his tireless effort to elevate the experience, delivering to his guests an unsurpassed level of luxury, and to share his certainty that a Caribbean company could successfully compete with any organization in the world. He accomplished both.

"I had heard of the concept, yet at the time, the services and rooms were very basic. Contrary to that, I envisioned we could bring forward a luxury resort to offer customers so much more. So, we perfected it. Only the most comfortable king size four poster beds, fine manicured gardens, cozy hammocks and the kind of warm, refined service the Caribbean has become known for. Just as important was to be located on the absolute best beach, because that's what everyone dreams of."

Where other so-called "all-inclusives" offered meals and rooms at a set rate, Sandals Resorts' prices covered gourmet dining options, premium brand drinks, gratuities, airport transfers, taxes and all land and watersport activities. The competitors' meals were buffet-style, so Stewart created on-property specialty restaurants with high culinary standards and white-glove service. Sandals Resorts also was the first Caribbean hotel company to offer whirlpools and satellite television service, the first with swim-up pool bars and the first to guarantee that every room is fitted with a king-size bed and a hair dryer. More recent innovations have included a signature spa concept – Red Lane® Spa, signature luxury suites designed for privacy and ultimate pampering, complimentary WiFi, and signature partnerships with iconic organizations such as Microsoft Xbox® Play Lounge, Sesame Workshop, PADI, Mondavi® Wines, Greg Norman Signature Golf courses and the London-based Guild of Professional English Butlers. And in 2017, Stewart introduced the Caribbean's first over-the-water accommodations, which were quickly expanded to include Over-the-Water bars and Over-the-Water wedding chapels.

By steadfastly adhering to the "we can do it better" principle of pleasing his guests, Stewart fostered a company free to imagine and free to consistently raise the bar. This ethos earned him the title of "King of All-Inclusives," changing the face of the all-inclusive format and establishing Sandals Resorts as the most successful brand in the category – boasting year-round occupancy levels of more than 85 percent, an unequaled returning guest factor of 40 percent and demand that has led to unprecedented expansion including the creation of additional concepts such as Beaches Resorts, now the industry standard for excellence in family beach vacations.

Butch Stewart loved Sandals. At the time of his passing, he was hard at work on plans for the recently announced expansions to the Dutch island of Curaçao and St. Vincent.

Stewart As Statesman
Stewart's leadership helped resurrect Jamaica's travel industry and earned him the respect of his peers and the admiration of his countrymen. He was elected President of the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica in 1989 and was inducted into its "Hall of Fame" in 1995. He served as a Director of the Jamaica Tourist Board for a decade and as President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association in the mid-80s, ably balancing government and private sector priorities, reconciling the concerns of large and small Jamaican hotels, and raising public understanding of the tourism industry. In 1994, Stewart led a group of investors to take leadership of Air Jamaica, the Caribbean's largest regionally based carrier. It was a daunting task - planes were dirty, service was indifferent and on-time schedules were rarely met, causing market share to plummet along with revenues.

When Stewart stepped in, he insisted on a passenger-friendly approach: on-time service, reduced waiting lines, increased training for all personnel, and signature free champagne on flights to accompany an emphasis on better food. He also opened new routes in the Caribbean, brought on new Airbus jets and established a Montego Bay hub for flights coming from and returning to the United States. Just as with ATL and Sandals Resorts, Stewart's formula proved successful and in late 2004, Stewart gave the airline back to the government with an increase in revenue of over US$250 million.

It was not the first time Stewart would come to the aid of his country. In 1992, he galvanized the admiration of Jamaicans with the "Butch Stewart Initiative," pumping US$1 million a week into the official foreign exchange market at below prevailing rates to help halt the slide of the Jamaican dollar. Dr Henry Lowe, at the time president and CEO of Blue Cross, wrote to Stewart saying: "I write to offer sincere congratulations to you for the tremendous initiative which has done so much, not only for the strengthening of our currency, but more so, for the new feeling of hope and positive outlook which is now being experienced by all of us as Jamaicans."

Less well-known may be the extent of Stewart's considerable philanthropy, where for more than 40 years he has helped improve and shape the lives of Caribbean people. His work, formalized with the creation in 2009 of The Sandals Foundation, offers support ranging from the building of schools and paying of teachers to bringing healthcare to the doorsteps of those who cannot afford it. This in addition to his tireless support of a wide range of environmental initiatives. Beyond the work of the Foundation, Stewart has given millions to charitable causes such as celebrating the bravery of veterans and first responders and helping those in the wake of devastating hurricanes.

In 2012, Stewart founded the Sandals Corporate University, aimed at providing professional development for employees through reputable education and training programs. With access to more than 230 courses and external partnerships with 13 top-ranking local and international universities, every staff member can apply, broaden their knowledge, and advance their career.8392045085?profile=RESIZE_710x

Stewart's successes in business and in life have earned him more than 50 well-deserved local, regional, and international accolades and awards including Jamaica's highest national distinctions: The Order of Jamaica (O.J.), and Commander of the Order of Distinction (C.D.). In 2017, Stewart was honored with the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Caribbean Hotel & Resort Investment Summit (CHRIS), hosted by the Burba Hotel Network, marking his significant contribution to the hospitality industry. "The success of Sandals has helped to power the growth of the tourism industry and economies not only in Jamaica but throughout the Caribbean," said BHN president Jim Burba. "The word 'icon' certainly applies to Butch Stewart."

It delighted Stewart whenever he was dining anywhere in the world and an excited staff member would share with him, "Thank you. I got my start at Sandals."

Butch Stewart, The Man
With his easy pace, infectious warmth and trademark striped shirt, Stewart exuded an approachability that belied the complexity of his character. While he was an acute businessperson, who at the time of his death was responsible for a Jamaican-based empire that includes two dozen diverse companies collectively representing Jamaica's largest private sector group, the country's biggest foreign exchange earner and its largest non-government employer, he was an extremely private man whose deepest devotion was to his family.

His greatest test came in 1989 when his beloved 24-year-old son Jonathan was killed in a car accident in Miami. Stewart recalled the incident in a 2008 interview, "For two months after he died, I was absolutely useless, and after that I was sort of running on remote control. Things were a blur. It's every parent's nightmare. After a year or so, I started to see things in vivid detail. You have to get busy, be close with your family. It did a lot in terms of me getting closer. There's a lot more satisfaction."

Stewart was able to return to his relentless pace, and the consensus among those who knew him best is that he did it by leading by example. "If you are going to lead, you have to participate," Stewart was fond of saying. He believed that if everyone in the organization recognized that the man in charge was working as hard as they were, they'd have an infinite amount of respect and motivation. "It's about instilling a spirit of teamwork, defining a purpose and then rolling up your sleeves to get the job done better than anybody else," Stewart said.

The company Butch Stewart built remains wholly owned by the Stewart family, who, in honor of Mr. Stewart's long-term succession plans, has named Adam Stewart Chairman of Sandals Resorts International, extending his formidable leadership of the brands he has shepherded since he was appointed CEO in 2007.

Speaking on behalf of his family, Adam Stewart said, "our father was a singular personality; an unstoppable force who delighted in defying the odds by exceeding expectations and whose passion for his family was matched only by the people and possibility of the Caribbean, for whom he was a fierce champion. Nothing, except maybe a great fishing day, could come before family to my dad. And while the world understood him to be a phenomenal businessman – which he was, his first and most important devotion was always to us. We will miss him terribly forever."

Gordon "Butch" Stewart is survived by his wife, Cheryl, children Brian, Bobby, Adam, Jaime, Sabrina, Gordon, and Kelly; grandchildren Aston, Sloane, Camden, Penelope-Sky, Isla, Finley, Max, Ben, Zak, Sophie, Annie and Emma; and great grandchildren Jackson, Riley, Emmy and Willow.

A private funeral service will be held. Those wishing to share memories, condolences or personal stories may do so at AllThatsGood@sandals.com

SOURCE Sandals Resorts International

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Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Photo via (L-R): Fernando Hevia; Yannick Reid; Sameel "samo Kush I" Johnson By: Patrice Meschino - Daily Beast

Jamaica’s first reggae radio station, IRIE FM, debuted on the island’s airwaves in August 1990. In Jamaican Rastafarian parlance, “irie” means good, cool, nice, and the station utilized a simple jingle to announce its content: “Reggae in the morning, reggae in the evening, reggae at nighttime on IRIE FM.” Thirty years on, IRIE still plays the original jingle. But it’s no longer quite true.

Some of the biggest stars featured on IRIE FM are playing a hybrid style that would’ve been unrecognizable as reggae when the station began. To many fans, it’s unrecognizable now. The new sound of Jamaica owes as much to trap, EDM, Afrobeat, and contemporary R&B as it does to dancehall or the original roots of reggae. It’s a style that doesn’t have a name yet, at least not one that’s stuck (although it’s sometimes referred to as trap dancehall) and you can hear it all over Jamaica.

“Reggae and dancehall continue to influence and contribute to the birth of various genres, as we’ve seen with hip hop, reggaeton and tropical house; now we are experiencing the birth of trap dancehall. Listeners to IRIE hear reggae and dancehall but also their offspring in a bid to further propel the art forms,” comments Kshema Francis of IRIE FM.

Three marquee names—Tarrus Riley, Protoje, and Dre Island—released outstanding albums this year that embody this evolutionary sound. All have incorporated influences and teachings from their Rastafari way of life, yet numerous tracks on their new albums bear little resemblance to the reggae of a generation ago. “I love the authentic reggae and dancehall sounds, but there are mixtures of other influences within those sounds,” Tarrus Riley, whose album Healing dropped on Aug. 28, told The Daily Beast in a recent Zoom interview.

Tarrus, 41, is an unlikely poster child for this new movement. He ascended to reggae stardom in 2006 with “She’s Royal,” a beautiful roots tribute to women and one of the decade’s most popular Jamaican singles. Tarrus’s breakthrough was part of the ‘00s mid-decade resurgence in roots reggae. Another roots movement appeared in Jamaica in the early 2010s, referred to as the Reggae Revival, which saw the emergence of several charismatic young talents including Chronixx, Jah9, Jesse Royal, and Kabaka Pyramid. Tarrus sees himself as the middle child in the reggae family.

Buju [Banton] and Sizzla were before me in the 1990s and Chronixx is after me so, I understand the roots and I understand the youths,” he explains. “When I was young, me and my father (the late Jimmy Riley whose singing career began in Jamaica’s mid-’60s rocksteady era) never liked the same music. It’s a new decade now, new things are happening so while the people from before want to hold on to music that had its time, the youths want to give you something new.”

Tarrus’ impressive catalogue showcases his finely tuned expressive vocals, which are adaptable to a range of styles from soft rock (“Jah Will”) to traditional Rastafarian Nyabinghi drumming (“Lion Paw”) to energetic dancehall (“Good Girl Gone Bad”). Then there’s the EDM power ballad “Powerful,” a certified gold single produced by Major Lazer, featuring Tarrus and Ellie Goulding.

Jamaica went into its coronavirus lockdown in late March. Tarrus abruptly ended his touring, returned home, and began writing and recording the songs that would become Healing, produced by Tarrus with co-production by Shane Brown and legendary saxophonist Dean Fraser.

Several tracks offer what Tarrus calls “experimental sounds”: over spatial dub and trap effects, Tarrus and rising trap dancehall artist Teejay trade quickly rhymed bursts referencing current racial and political sparring on “Babylon Warfare.” “Connect Again” with dancehall star Konshens anticipates a post-quarantine world and offers trap with a subtle reggae reverb while the spiritually fortifying “My Fire” (featuring singer Dexta Daps) is quintessential trap-R&B. The album’s biggest hit “Lighter” blends trap, EDM and dancehall into a catchy pop nugget, featuring female dancehall powerhouse Shenseea and is produced by (Jamaica born) Rvssian, well-known for his dancehall hits and Latin trap and reggaeton international chart toppers. The “Lighter” video has received over 32 million YouTube views since its release on Sept. 6. A fearless creative, Tarrus says the only thing to expect from his music is empowering messages.

“Don’t watch the tempo,” he cautions, “because I like doing new things. People are concerned with names, labels, trap, rap, hip-hop, dancehall, I can’t bother with them things. I have always been doing different kinds of sounds and I will continue. Music is going through a change right now, people are blending and fusing, everybody wants to call it a name, but I just call it good music.”

Reggae, like its direct Jamaican forerunners, ska and rocksteady, is an amalgam sound. In the late 1950s the ska beat was developed in Kingston recording studios by singers and musicians influenced by American doo wop, early rock and roll, gospel, rhythm and blues as well as Jamaica’s mento and Trinidad’s calypso. Rocksteady followed in 1966 with a slower tempo that allowed vocalists to fully showcase their talents while the basslines grew steadier and more pronounced. In 1968, the drum and bass led a faster, more complex rhythm called reggae. Experimentation on reggae tracks by Jamaican engineers and producers led to the birth of dub shortly thereafter. Dancehall reggae, reggae’s digitized strain, was created in 1984.

Over the decades, reggae has undergone organic stylistic changes and intentional adaptations aimed at reaching wider audiences. Island Records founder Chris Blackwell strategized marketing The Wailers’ 1973 Catch A Fire as a rock album, overdubbing guitar riffs and keyboard flourishes on the trio’s Jamaican recordings. Seeking to connect with an African American audience Bob Marley incorporated disco influences on his 1980 single “Could You Be Loved.” Esteemed rhythm section and production duo Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare brought the aggressiveness of the rock influences they absorbed while touring as members of Peter Tosh’s band opening for Santana and The Rolling Stones.

“As we did a couple of tours with these rock bands, we were wondering, how can we get that power, that energy, behind the reggae groove?” Dunbar told The Daily Beast. “So Robbie and I changed the sound of what we were playing, it was reggae but with a different attitude. The first experiment was (vocal trio) Black Uhuru, one of their first songs was “Shine Eye Gal” and people were like what is this?”

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Sly and Robbie’s modernizations earned widespread attention, yet some protested they were changing the music too much. In the 21st century their sonic advances continue to inspire another generation of artists and producers. Stephen and Damian Marley sampled Sly and Robbie’s production of singer Ini Kamoze’s “World-A-Music” for Damian’s 2005 Grammy winning blockbuster “Welcome to Jamrock,” a profoundly influential consolidation of hip-hop, dancehall and reggae elements. In 2012, Protoje, deeply inspired by Marley’s “Jamrock,” sampled Kamoze for his provocative hit “Kingston Be Wise,” written about the Jamaica Defense Force’s incursion into the city’s Tivoli Gardens community in search of wanted drug lord Christopher “Dudus” Coke, which resulted in an estimated 100 deaths.

Earlier this year Protoje sampled another Sly and Robbie rhythm for his production of singer Lila Ike’s single “Thy Will.” “Sly personally sent me the Baltimore riddim,” Protoje shared with The Daily Beast via Zoom, “and he told me, I love how you sample and lick over these riddims but now I want you to add something and move it forward.”

Protoje, 39, was born Oje Ken Ollivierre, the son of Jamaican lawyer (and former singer) Lorna Bennett and Mike Ollivierre, a former calypso king from St. Vincent. He was a core member of the Reggae Revival movement of the 2010s; since his initial impact on Jamaican music with the 2011 single “Rasta Love,” delivered in his mesmeric spoken/sung/patois-rapped vocals, Protoje has made tremendous strides in moving the island’s industry forward. He has signed three young female singers (Lila Iké, Sevana and most recently Jaz Elise) to his Kingston based label In.Digg.Nation Collective and made history as the first Jamaican artist to have his label contracted to an American major, RCA Records. In Search of Lost Time, released on August 28, is his premiere album through that deal. Throughout the album’s 10 tracks, Protoje’s broad based influences including classic dub, 80s dancehall, grunge guitars, trap, hip hop, and electronica are intricately woven into a multi-layered sonic.

The album opens with “Switch It Up,” blurring hip hop, R&B and a touch of roots, as Protoje and 20-year-old Jamaican sensation Koffee (who cites Protoje as a significant career influence) impressively change their flows, singing together then trading blistering verses. Incorporating a mash up of classic dancehall and hip-hop, Protoje reimagines the 1991 hit “Strange” by veteran Papa San into “Strange Happenings.” “Weed & Ting” is an unexpected take on a ganja song that also muses on life’s blessings and is set to a transcendent trap-one drop reggae fusion; the album’s other marijuana tune, “A Vibe,” featuring Wiz Khalifa, is straight up trap. Protoje wrote the motivational “Like Royalty” (featuring dancehall superstar Popcaan) after attending the 2019 Grammy Awards (he was nominated for Best Reggae Album for A Matter of Time); wreathed in hip hop, funk and soul, the song’s complex patois rhymes acknowledge the sacrifices made by a few close friends and especially his mother to advance his career.

Working alongside a stellar cast of Jamaican producers including Iotosh Poyser, Supa Dups, Ziah Roberts, Natural High, The Grei Show, Stephen McGregor and longstanding collaborator Winta James, Protoje incorporates live instrumentation, samples, dub reverbs and various effects into a sophisticated tableau that’s beyond genre classification yet retains many distinctive Jamaican elements: the heavy reggae bassline and signature Wailers’ percussion on “Deliverance;” a bassline sampled from renowned (British) dub producer/engineer Mad Professor on “Still I Wonder” and a sample of veteran singer Freddie McGregor’s “I’m A Revolutionist,” that’s flipped into the sultry neo-soul influenced love song, “In Bloom,” featuring Lila Iké.

“When Bob Marley dropped Exodus people probably said it wasn’t real reggae,” Protoje offered. (Recorded during Marley’s exile period in London, some critics balked 1977’s Exodus was unrelated to what was happening in Jamaica then, rather than applauding the album’s sonic innovations; Exodus was named Album of Century by Time Magazine in 1999.)

I always incorporate indigenous Jamaican elements, but music evolves, and our generation is responsible for what the sound is now. It’s the youths them me check for but me want the elders to respect my music. Freddie McGregor, Papa San, Sly, all them people say them a love what me a do so me nah listen to the others. I just keep making music how it sounds in my head.”

Dre Island’s debut album Now I Rise combines Rastafarian roots reggae’s denunciations of societal injustices underpinned by atmospheric genre-defying beats. Released in May, the Now I Rise Deluxe Edition dropped on July 24, with Dre writing, singing and producing most of the album’s 20 tracks. Born Andre Johnson, Dre, 32, is a classically trained pianist who worked as an engineer/producer before stepping in front of the mic. He made his initial impact with such singles as the jubilant “Rastafari Way” and the poignant commentary on the disparities between “Uptown/Downtown;” Dre’s fan base was further expanded through acoustic performance clips uploaded to the internet and posted on social media showcasing his keyboard expertise and raspy, emotive vocals. His biggest hit to date “We Pray,” featuring Popcaan, a widely embraced hymn of spiritual strength (its video has received over 32 million YouTube views) was released in 2017 and is included on Now I Rise.

Dre skillfully explores a range of styles including EDM (“More Love-Dub Fx Remix”) exuberant funk pop (“Four Seasons”) Afrobeats (“Calling”) and several trap-influenced tracks such as “Run to Me” featuring Alandon. Raised in the volatile Red Hills Road area of Kingston, it’s Dre’s gritty firsthand observations that provide the album’s most riveting moments. Over a hazy trap-inspired rhythm track, Dre’s melancholy, deeply affecting vocals on “My City” deliver a bittersweet love letter to Jamaica’s capital, “where politicians every day dem import a strap and dem no care about the issues weh the voters got.”

“Kingdom” was written in 2014 about the Tivoli Gardens incursion, its sparse martial beat underscores the lyrics’ galvanizing spiritual call to arms: “I was living in a community that was affected dearly by that, a lot of innocent youths died, so I approached the song as we Rasta coming forward with Jah message,” Dre recalled. Equally haunting and likewise rhythmically stark, “Still Remain” remarks on the continual gang war in Kingston’s Mountain View community: “shotta spray like how the fountain spew, your door police will squeeze round ten through, stand over three man and found them blue.”

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Photo by Fernando Hevia

“Many artists speak on these kinds of things but because of where I come from, it’s only a few that strike it and let me see that harsh reality where me say, this is what really happen, him not lying,” Dre offers. “That’s why today I can say ‘it was all a dream, I used to read Word Up! Magazine,’” quoting lyrics from Biggie Smalls. “I felt I lived that too, Biggie. Biggie’s long gone in the flesh, but his soul will forever live on because he never lied, he struck in that reality. That’s what Bob Marley did too, he never tried to pretty it up: ‘man to man is so unjust you don’t know who to trust,” Dre adds, quoting from “Who The Cap Fit.” “Bob never tell no lie, that is exactly how it goes today, too.”

Wyclef Jean recruited Dre for the remix to his song “Justice” a tribute to slain jogger Ahmaud Arbery, then offered Dre the remix for Now I Rise. “Bang Your Head” pairs Dre’s mother’s wise encouraging words with producer Winta James’ futuristic EDM meets hip-hop infused rhythm. The impressively sweeping musical scope of Now I Rise won’t outwardly be identified as roots reggae although Dre’s impassioned delivery and provocative statements extend the music’s revolutionary spirit with a sonic update for a new generation. “I don’t watch genre because reggae is not a beat for I,” says Dre, who like Tarrus and Protoje resists categorizations. “Reggae is the music that Rasta use to deliver the message of His Majesty (Ethiopian Emperor, Rastafarian Savior Haile Selassie I) and as a Rastaman, I message say burn (condemn) division, burn segregation, we are one people: I say no race, no color, so how am I going to say genre? As long as the message is speaking righteousness and love to the people, then the music is reggae for I.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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My mum disputes some details of McQueen’s retelling – notably the tactile dancing.’ Micheal Ward and Amarah-Jae St Aubyn (centre) in Lovers Rock. Photograph: Parisa Taghizadeh/BBC/McQueen Limited
Story by: Micha Frazer-Carroll

At the halfway mark of Lovers Rock, the new Steve McQueen film set at a blues party in 1980, at least a hundred partygoers calmly sing an a capella song for five minutes straight. It is hypnotising and, like other moments in McQueen’s Small Axe film series, which centres around British Caribbean communities in the 1960s to the 1980s, time feels momentarily like it has been stretched. Every person in that jam-packed room patiently sings the slow song from start to finish, and everyone knows the words: “But I’ve got no time to live this lie / No, I’ve got no time to play your silly games / Silly games!”

When the film aired on Sunday night on the BBC, watching the characters sing the 1979 hit Silly Games felt very close to home, in part because Janet Kay, who sings the song, happens to be my “auntie” – a lifelong friend of my mum’s, rather than a blood relative. Silly Games was therefore a staple of my childhood; when I was growing up, Auntie Kay could always be persuaded to sing her former chart success at any birthday, christening or holy communion.

The song was part of the lovers rock genre, the post-Windrush lovechild of reggae and soul born in 1970s Britain. Silly Games was a hit at family parties when I was growing up, but it was only when I was much older that I learned the song wasn’t just a cultural touchstone in my family – it was one of the most famous lovers rock singles in history. As an adult, I started to understand its reach: I would meet Caribbeans who had grown up in Manchester, Birmingham or Scotland who had all sung the song at their family parties, too – with everyone’s mum, uncle and auntie trying to hit the notoriously hard-to-reach high note at the end of the chorus. I grew up on fables about the blues parties my nanny hosted at her house

Many Caribbeans remarked on social media that seeing such a cherished tradition on screen felt personal – as did the setting of a legendary blues party. Usually hosted in someone’s basement, blues parties sprung up in the 1970s as safe refuges from Britain’s racist clubbing scene. As McQueen depicts, they were a mixture of an underground rave and a house party – any cash that changed hands was generally just enough to cover the costs of the makeshift shebeen. Lovers rock music like Auntie Kay’s often provided the soundtrack to these ritualistic house parties, which were all about sensual slow dancing rather than blowing off steam to pop or disco.

I grew up on fables about the blues parties my nanny hosted at her house in Hackney, east London, and those at other people’s homes that my mum spent her teenage years and early twenties attending. It would all begin in the morning: the host would spend the day painstakingly clearing out rooms, cooking for guests and getting a mammoth sound system in. The speakers were of crucial importance – and, after the party kicked off at midnight or 1am, attendees could find the right address by following the vibrations that crept along the street.

Once people arrived at the house, they would have to pay a small fee to get in, but it was worth it to find the sounds, smells and flavours of the homesick blues: curry goat, Red Stripe, wallpaper dripping with sweat and a syncopated bass line blasting from an 8ft speaker. Blues parties were places of celebration and togetherness – and crucially, the only place you could hear reggae and lovers rock, except perhaps for David Rodigan’s slot on Capital Radio.

Of course, Black spaces have always been threatened by forces outside our control. Blues parties eventually petered out, increasingly falling foul of the police due to noise complaints and licensing issues, while the mainstream clubbing scene opened up to Black audiences. By the late 1980s, they had come and gone – and today, their ghosts haunt areas like Dalston, which were once popular for blues parties but whose large basements are no longer home to Black families.

My mum disputes some details of McQueen’s retelling – notably the accents and the tactile dancing: “The art was to dance as close as possible without touching,” she told me as the film progressed. Others felt that sometimes stereotypes got the better of McQueen, who was only 11 at the time of the story. But it seemed that the millennial generation of Caribbeans in particular relished the plunge into nostalgia; and for those who have grown up on the stories of their parents, it was perhaps validating to see a lifelike depiction of historical tradition deeply mythologised yet under-documented in British history.

While it may not be perfect, McQueen’s film is a solid contribution to the ongoing project of archiving our histories, which – although it is easy to forget – are characterised by joy as well as struggle. In fact, blues parties perfectly illustrate how the two were intrinsically intertwined. Emerging from an era of “no Blacks, no dogs, no Irish”, Caribbean people carved out meaningful underground spaces to dance their blues away. Although these parties are no longer, the blues spirit lives on in oral histories, in films like McQueen’s, and in a room full of aunties reaching for that high note at the end of Silly Games.

• Micha Frazer-Carroll is a columnist at the Independent

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Hellshire beach, Jamaica, in 2008. The beach has largely disappeared since due to erosion. Photograph: Zickie Allgrove/Getty Images

 

Climate change is eroding beaches all over the Caribbean – even though the region contributes a tiny fraction of the emissions heating the planet.

Sunbathing mothers keep an anxious eye out for children enjoying horseback rides, as groups of young men engage in energetic games of beach football and cricket. Further along, a boombox blasts as the smell of fresh fish wafts across the shoreline.

For years, this was the scene at the Hellshire Beach in Portmore, St Catherine, on a public holiday or weekend when Jamaicans and visitors alike would flock to one of the island’s most popular beaches. Today, however, parents no longer bring their children. The horses, along with most of the beachline, have long disappeared and the few visitors who come to Aunt Merl’s or Prendy’s on the Beach – two of the few remaining seafood restaurants left standing – are confined to the benches inside. The beachfront has been swallowed by the surging tides, a result of decades of climate change and mismanagement.

“The recreational areas are totally gone so the sea is now right at the steps of the business places,” says Gladstone White, director of the Half Moon Bay Fishermen’s Co-operative, which has been lobbying for funding for infrastructure work to stabilize sections of the beach.

While island nations like Jamaica contribute a tiny fraction of the greenhouse gas emissions that are heating the planet, they are poised to suffer the worst consequences of the climate crisis. Coasts play a critical role in the economies of many Caribbean nations, whose population centers are close to the shore and who rely heavily on their ports and on tourists attracted to their picturesque waters. But beaches throughout the Caribbean are eroding as a result of rising sea levels and dangerous storms resulting from climate change. And many island nations lack the funding to invest in the infrastructure and innovation necessary to combat the changes – a situation made worse by the Covid crisis.

While Jamaica has a mixed record on environmental protection, the country is part of a coalition of small island nations that has been instrumental in lobbying for global climate action, and recently became the first Caribbean nation to increase the ambitiousness of its plan under the Paris climate agreement to reduce its carbon emissions.

But the US is set to withdraw from the agreement on 4 November, imperiling the treaty’s goal of limiting global heating to “well below” 2C, along with prospects for global action sufficient to ward off increased risk to the people and lands of the Caribbean.

Hellshire Beach, where the marine ecosystem is rapidly eroding, offers insight into what’s at stake for many Caribbean communities. Intensified storm activity and increased water temperatures are helping destroy offshore coral reefs that otherwise buffer the shoreline from pounding waves. The problems are compounded by unregulated commercial development and waste treatment, along with the removal of sand dunes and other vegetation. A landmark report published in 2012 found that Hellshire had lost up to 120 meters of shoreline in four decades.8169910888?profile=RESIZE_710x

When the scope of Hellshire’s destruction became clear, the government seemed ready to act quickly and decisively. A master plan to rehabilitate the beach was created – but then dashed in 2016 when the People’s National party (PNP) was swept from power. Since then, budding initiatives meant to invest in the beach have been consistently shut down, often without explanation.

Jamaica’s economic difficulties will thwart any short-term action to save the beach. The coronavirus has served a major blow to tourism and remittances, the country’s top two sources of revenue. The post-crisis receipts from both are forecast to fall to just around half the US$5.4bn of value they represented before the pandemic, with remittances ­expected to decline by 17% and tourism by 68%.

Jamaica’s National Environment and Planning Agency says that while rehabilitation efforts have been derailed by the economic impact of Covid-19, they will be picked up next year. But despite Nepa’s reassurances, a tourism official told the Guardian that the Hellshire master plan has been shelved indefinitely.

White, director of the fishermen’s co-operative, says the decision to scrap the master plan will hit members “big time”.

“Thing are so bad that fishermen are finding it difficult to find places to dock their boats,” he said.

Prendy’s on the Beach was once arguably the biggest and most popular seafood restaurant on Hellshire. Now that the beach has disappeared, so too have many of its customers – a situation exacerbated by government-imposed Covid-19 restrictions on public gatherings.

 

A seafood restaurant at Hellshire Beach. The sea is now perilously close to the businesses on the shore. Photograph: Christopher Serju

“I have to be creative,” says Donnete “Prendy” Prendergast, who has been operating her restaurant at Hellshire for more than 20 years. “So I do family packages for people who still come out even if they can’t get to swim. But honestly, not being able to swim takes away from the Hellshire experience, because they come here not just to eat but to have some recreation.”

Jamaica has long sent mixed signals on its commitment to environmental protection. Environmentalists recently protested against the government’s decision to allow bauxite mining in an area that supplies drinking water to the parishes of Trelawny, St Elizabeth and St Ann. The government also met with outcry over its decision to sell off fertile land to developers to build a new city, despite the fact that just a fraction of Jamaica’s land is available for farming.8169923854?profile=RESIZE_710x

And environmentalists, archaeologists and residents have been united in their opposition to the construction of a floating pier for cruise ships in Port Royal, arguing that the fragile ecosystem is in danger. Despite this, the pier opened last year to much fanfare but generated little economic spinoff for locals.

For her part, Prendergast would be content with the government showing its commitment to addressing climate change by taking one small step towards resolving beach erosion at Hellshire.

“I think the authorities need to really give Hellshire some love because it is really a beautiful place and what we offer is really unique because you can’t go get our festivals anywhere else,” she says, referring to the cornmeal-based Jamaican fried dough sold on the beach.

But time is running out for the Hellshire Fishing Village beach and its natural and manmade allures. Soon, the forces of nature, along with local and global inaction, will make it, and many more pristine beaches in the region, no more than a distant memory – a faded photograph in an old scrapbook.

Prendy’s on the Beach was once arguably the biggest and most popular seafood restaurant on Hellshire, but many of its customers have disappeared. Photograph: Christopher Serju

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Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz’s new book, Remain in Love, is a billet-doux to his bandmate and wife of more than 40 years, bassist Tina Weymouth, as well as documenting the couple’s musical journey together — first, as part of the most critically acclaimed New Wave band of the late 70s and early 80s, and later as co-founders of The Tom Tom Club, which topped the charts in 1981 with “Genius of Love.”

But there’s another ongoing love affair that Franz and Weymouth have been carrying on all these years, too, and that’s with the Caribbean — the Bahamas, in particular.

Talking Heads are sometimes described as a “world music” band, and Frantz’s introduction to Caribbean beats and rhythms began early: his parents had lived in Puerto Rico and traveled to the Virgin Islands and Trinidad, bringing home 78-rpm records of calypso and mambo songs that Frantz rediscovered as a young musician.

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When Jimmy Cliff helped introduce reggae to the United States with the 1972 film, The Harder They Come, it caught the attention of Frantz and Weymouth, who had recently met and fallen in love as students at the Rhode Island School of Design (where they also would meet Talking Heads singer David Byrne)

“Tina had this Plymouth Valiant that we drove up to Boston to see the movie, and we loved it so much that we immediately went and bought the album, and then went the next weekend to see the movie again,” said Frantz.

As a drummer, Frantz — who counts The Mighty Sparrow, Toots and the Maytalls, and “Funky Nassau” performer Ray Munnings among his favorite Caribbean musicians  — incorporated the syncopated beats of Caribbean music into his playing for Talking Heads, particularly after the band traveled to Nassau in 1978 to record their second album, More Songs About Buildings and Food, which included the hit song, “Take Me to the River.” The Brian Eno produced album was the first to be cut at Compass Point Studios, established by Island Records founder Chris Blackwell.

Everyone from AC/DC to David Bowie and the Rolling Stones would end up making albums at the studio, which operated from 1977 to 2010, but, “I think we recorded more albums there than any other artists,” said Frantz. In addition to Talking Heads’ More Songs About Buildings and Food and 1980’s Remain in Light and 1983’s Speaking in Tongues, Frantz and Weymouth utilized the studio on the west end of New Providence Island to make the first three Tom Tom Club albums.

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The Tom Tom Club was loosely inspired by Peanuts Taylor’s Drumbeat Club, a nightclub in downtown Nassau. The band included members of the Compass Point All Stars, the de facto house band at the Nassau studio.

Being in the orbit of Blackwell led to some interesting experiences —  “We used to live in the same building as Sean Connery, but Joe Cocker kept coming into the driveway and yelling, ‘Sean, give us a drink,’ so he moved,” Frantz recalled — but also some remarkable collaborations, including with pianist Tyrone Downie of the Wailers, percussionist “Sticky” Thompson, keyboardist Wally Badarou, and King Crimson singer Adrian Belew, among others.

Frantz and Weymouth loved the Bahamas so much that they became part-time residents of Nassau. “We bought an apartment (near Compass Point) that we still have, and the roof still leaks,” said Frantz. “That’s part of life down there. We still go down there, and hope to do so again in the not too distant future” — post COVID, that is.

For years, the couple and their family also took extended trips through the Out Islands on their 48-foot sloop, Katrinka, helmed by Tina’s father, a former U.S. Navy vice admiral.

“The Bahamas are 700 islanders in the sun, and we loved to sail from Nassau to Staniel Cay in the Exumas, and to snorkel in the Thunderbolt grotto,” said Frantz, who also recounted day trips from Nassau to deserted Allen Cay to visit the iguanas and to Big Major Cay, home of the Bahamas’ famous swimming pigs.

Other favorite stops include Lyford Cay, Cat Island, and out to the Exumas for the annual Family Island Regatta. “We had 22 years of bliss surrounded by a few hours of sheer terror,” laughed Frantz — a sentiment that will be familiar to anyone who sails.

Frantz and Weymouth’s Caribbean travels aren’t limited to the Bahamas: the couple traveled to Barbados in 1991 to produce an album with the British band Happy Mondays, explored the mountains of Jamaica during a stay at Blackwell’s Goldeneye hotel, and decamped to the legendary Oloffson Hotel in Port au Prince, Haiti on an art-buying trip.

Visitors to Nassau will find little trace of Compass Point Studios or the world-famous musicians who once inhabited its halls, but the vibrant Compass Point Beach Resort (originally founded by Blackwell and sometimes used by visiting stars) still welcomes guests to Love Beach and its popular beach bar. Frantz also is a fan of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, located in downtown Nassau.

“A lot of people go to Paradise Island and stay at a big hotel,” said Frantz. “We never go to those places. We prefer the Out Island experience, and the west end of New Providence is like that.”

“We love the easygoing, you-can’t-rush-life attitude of most people in the Caribbean,” Frantz added. “The people of the Bahamas are so happy to see you. It’s all about hospitality and equality’’

 
 

 

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From left: Drs Chantae Bardowell, Marla-Kay Richards, Thejasree Pulikanti, Shellian Blagrove and Shasha-Marie Williams.

Shasha-Marie Williams could have been a pregnant teen, because that was the norm in Flankers, St James, where she grew up; while Shellian Blagrove was expected to scorn her problem-plagued community of Mt Salem. Their friends – Thejasree Pulikanti wanted nothing else but to follow in her parents’ footsteps; Marla Kay Richards, a country girl, received far less lunch money than her classmates; and Chantae Bardowell felt like giving up many times.

Four of the five women attended Montego Bay High School, while the other walked the hills to Mt Alvernia High School, nicknamed ‘Alvernia’. All five were determined to become medical doctors, and nothing would stop them.

Now doctors at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay, the young women have become inseparable on the front line as they join the fight against COVID-19, each having had close calls with the virus since it entered the Jamaican airspace in March.

But in spite of the overwhelming challenge that the global pandemic has caused since its emergence in China late last year, the young medical professionals are adamant that it won’t dominate their lives.

DREAM THE IMPOSSIBLE
Drs Williams, Pulikanti, Richards and Bardowell have known each other for about 16 years, while eight years ago they met Blagrove while studying at The University of the West Indies, Mona.

They have been practising for an average of four years each, with Bardowell recently completing her studies in Cuba, and her first year as a medical intern. 

“We are all general practitioners making steps to specialise in the near future,” Williams told The Sunday Gleaner.

The most compelling story of the five is Dr Blagrove’s, who grew up in Piggott Street in Mt Salem, St James – an area written off by many. In fact, she has been questioned countless times by soldiers deployed in the zones of special operations (ZOSO) community, asking why she lived there and if she wasn’t afraid.

“I would proudly say because this was where I was raised. My parents and the church made me know that it doesn’t matter where you are from, but where you are going. I still live there,” she shared.“My community members are proud of me. My hope is to inspire little boys and girls to dream, even when it seems impossible.”

For Dr Blagrove, medical school was the hardest thing she has ever done, and she admitted she couldn’t have made it without the support of her four friends. “We played together, laughed together, studied together, and pushed each other. And today I am so proud that we work together,” the young doctor beamed.

Dr Williams was inspired to join the medical profession from as early as 11 years old, when she noticed white spots on her skin. “As time went by, they got progressively worse and appeared in places that I could no longer hide. The stares, finger-pointing and all the questions were nothing compared to the fact that my condition had no cure,” she said.

She was diagnosed with vitiligo, which sparked her interest in dermatology.

The 28-year-old grew up in Flankers, where the standard at the time was for young females to get pregnant and males to be involved in gangs.

“It was at that point that I knew, and where I saw it was also my responsibility to lead and motivate persons in whatever way I can to be better versions of themselves and members of society,” Dr Williams revealed.

THREE GENERATIONS OF DOCTORS
Dr Pulikanti has a totally different story, growing up in a home where both parents were established medical practitioners.

“As long as I can remember, I have wanted to become a doctor to help others. I am from a family with three generations of medical professionals, I simply never saw myself as anything else. I wanted to follow in the footsteps of those who raised me and I have not once regretted my decision,” said the 26-year-old. 

Pulikanti admitted that there were several times she felt like giving up, because medicine is difficult, but those moments were when support from her family and friends became vital to make it through.

“Undoubtedly, my greatest supporters have been my family, who helped me to become who I am today,” she stated.

Dr Richards grew up in Bickersteth, St James – a rural district she visits regularly. She had her struggles growing up in a family not the least affluent. Actually, most persons in her family did not even have a job.

“As a child in infant school, I questioned this and asked why? I was uncomfortable with it, knowing that we could not afford some things and I got way less money for lunch than other children in the class. At that point, I knew that I could not fall in the cycle and when I grew up I had to have a job, and not only a job, but a profession. Education would be my key to success,” she said.

The 27-year-old shared that her family was proud of her accomplishments, not only as doctor, but throughout her entire school years from infant to university. One of her most difficult moments was the beginning of fourth-year medical school and one week before one of her clerkship exams. Her mom died from breast cancer. At first, her coping skills were good but as the months progressed, Dr Richards got the strong urge to quit the programme. But the guiding spirit of her mother kept her going.

“One night, I had a vision of my mom giving me a strong warning not to do so, and that I must run the race with patience. It was that warning and her repeating it three times that motivated me to continue, and here I am today,” she proudly stated.

THE DRIVE TO GO ON
Dr Bardowell knew she wanted to be a doctor since primary school, and was even more convinced after she watched the movie John Q. She went on to study medicine in Cuba, at the Universidad de Ciencias Medicas de La Habana.

The 28-year-old, who spent her early years in Trelawny and Westmoreland, spoke about wanting to give up many times during medical school.

“I had several nights of tears, feeling hopeless and lost. Especially while being away from family and living on my own in a foreign country, with different culture, different people, different language. But despite those hard times, I had a drive, I had a goal, I had to achieve for myself, then for my family. I never wanted to let myself down. And that drive kept me going,” Dr Bardowell declared.

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Toots Hibbert, an influential and veteran Jamaican ska and reggae singer and founder of the band the Maytals, has died. He was 77. The cause of death is as yet unclear, though he had been recently tested for Covid-19.

statement from his family released on Sept. 11 reads: “It is with the heaviest of hearts to announce that Frederick Nathaniel ‘Toots’ Hibbert passed away peacefully tonight, surrounded by his family at the University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica.

“The family and his management team would like to thank the medical teams and professionals for their care and diligence, and ask that you respect their privacy during their time of grief.”

The youngest of seven children, Hibbert’s parents were both Seventh-Day Adventist ministers and he grew up singing in church. He moved to the country’s capital of Kingston as a teenager and formed the first version of the Maytals in the early 1960s. Over the following 10 years the group recorded with a series of producers that reads like a reggae hall of fame: Coxsone Dodd, Prince Buster, Byron Lee, Leslie Kong — and reeled off Hibbert compositions like “Bam Bam,” “Sweet and Dandy” and “54-46 That’s My Number,” which was inspired by a mid-‘60s prison term he served for marijuana possession. 

Hibbert was one of the early proponents of reggae in the late 1960s and scored a hit with the song “Do the Reggay.” In fact, he is often credited with giving reggae its name when he christened the 1968 song.

He was a contemporary and friend of Bob Marley’s, and for several years both were signed to Island Records. Speaking with the Jamaica Observer in 2018, Hibbert spoke of sharing bills with Marley’s band, the Wailers, in their early days. “Sometimes the Maytals would close, sometimes The Wailers would close the show. We had no problems, no professional jealousy, we were all very good friends,” he said. “Out of all of us though, me an’ Bob were very good friends. It was out of one of those conversations that I did the song ‘Marley.’ He was telling me that he was going to be a dreadlocks Rasta an’ I laughed an’ said, ‘I want to be a comb-locks’ Rasta like Selassie I,’ an’ he laughed, just like the words in the actual song,” he said.

The two both had hits with different songs called “Redemption Song,” featured on his first album for Island, “Funky Kingston.”

“When I did ‘Redemption Song’ in 1972, it went number one [in Jamaica],” Hibbert recalled. “Marley said he would do a ‘Redemption Song’ as well. He used a similar rhythm but different lyrics.” Marley’s version of the song appeared on the final album released during his lifetime, “Uprising.”

Also in 1972, Hibbert appeared in the groundbreaking film “The Harder They Come,” which starred Jimmy Cliff. His 1969 song “Pressure Drop” was featured on the film’s soundtrack and was covered by the Clash in 1978, introducing Hibbert to thousands of new listeners.

A seemingly permanent presence in reggae music, Hibbert continued to tour and record through the decades, appearing on Willie Nelson’s 2005 album “Countryman” and covering Radiohead’s “Let Down” for a collection of reggae Radiohead covers. He even joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers onstage for a performance of “Louie Louie” during a 2011 New Year’s Eve party in St. Barts thrown by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.

In 2013 he was injured when a thrown bottle hit him in the head during a performance in Virginia. He missed several shows but ended up asking the judge to give the young man who threw the bottle a light sentence. “He is a young man, and I have heard what happens to young men in jail,” he wrote in a letter to the judge. “My own pain and suffering would be increased substantially knowing that this young man would face that prospect.” The man received a six-month sentence.

Hibbert was hospitalized just days after the release of his and the Maytals’ first album in more than a decade, “Got to Be Tough.” The album was co-produced by Zak Starkey, and features contributions from Starkey’s father, Ringo Starr, as well as Ziggy Marley, Sly Dunbar and Cyril Neville (read Variety‘s review).

“I’m very proud of what I’ve done and the love I’ve given,” Hibbert told Rolling Stone of the album. “But it’s getting harder and harder to give the love the people need, and they need it now more than ever. No time to waste.”

On Sept. 2, it was revealed that Hibbert was in stable but serious condition in a private medical facility in Jamaica. He was tested for Covid-19, although the results have not been announced.

Hibbert is survived by his wife of 39 years, Miss D, and his seven of eight children.

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Orlando Patterson - New York Times

For a tiny island in the Caribbean, Jamaica has long enjoyed an outsize global reach — there are the songs of Bob Marley and the gold medals of Usain Bolt, as well as the millions of sun-seekers flocking to the island’s pristine beaches. It is quite an accomplishment for a nation “barely the size of Connecticut,” as Orlando Patterson notes in his fascinating study, “The Confounding Island: Jamaica and the Postcolonial Predicament.” But shadows hang over this sunny picture, not least distressingly high rates of poverty and homicide.

Patterson is a Jamaican who has long lived in the United States, working as a sociology professor at Harvard University, which allows him both an intimacy with the island and a degree of distance through which to analyze it. Although he provides extensive citations and robust discussions of theoretical frameworks, he also offers a personal story of affection and frustration, perhaps most evident in the questions that form all but one of the eight chapter titles. These include: “Why Has Jamaica Trailed Barbados on the Path to Sustained Growth?” and “Why is Democratic Jamaica So Violent?” Indeed, these two questions are so significant, he devotes the first half of the book to them.

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"The Confounding Island: Jamaica and the Postcolonial Predicament" by Orlando Patterson.

Patterson starts by comparing Jamaica with its fellow former colony Barbados, which is 25 times smaller in area and, with under 300,000 inhabitants, possessing only one-tenth the population. Yet Barbados has more than twice the per capita G.D.P. of Jamaica and none of the political violence. To explain this, Patterson pursues lines of investigation that are not strictly economic. The themes of slavery and freedom run through his analysis; it is impossible to discuss contemporary Jamaica without their inclusion. Although Patterson’s time frame is postcolonial, to get to Jamaica’s economic present he navigates the pothole-strewn road of its troubled past.

Jamaica’s dramatic and complex history starts with the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1494. In 1655 it fell under English control, and was subsequently transformed into a sugar powerhouse fueled by enslaved labor, until full abolition arrived in 1838. The island remained under British control until independence in 1962.

Such a trajectory is not uncommon in the Caribbean, but Patterson notes crucial distinctions in Jamaica’s development, particularly the British perception that it was dangerous and disease-laden compared with Barbados. As a result, there were fewer absentee plantation owners in Barbados and a more stable colonial population, which influenced the development of the island’s political institutions. The social history of these institutions is key to understanding how they functioned after independence, and why the implementation of what were often similar policies had divergent results

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Heywood Street market on West Queen Street in Kingston, Jamaica.Credit...Robert Rausch for The New York Times

From there, Patterson turns to violence, while also issuing some useful reminders about the nature of democracy. Jamaica, as he writes, is “genuinely democratic,” with a very robust civil society, and yet is rarely described as such. This is, in part, because of the notion that democracies, by their nature, are not violent, an idea “inconsistent with the realities of democratic history and practice.” Still, Jamaica remains an outlier in terms of scale, consistently topping global homicide lists.

Patterson examines how the political clientelism that took root in independent Jamaica has led to deadly “garrison-based politics,” in which a poor neighborhood is bribed or coerced through the threat of violence into voting for a particular political party. This phenomenon, mixed with persistent poverty, has given rise to the urban gangs and drug-related brutality that continue to blight the island. Patterson also revisits his own part in the development of Jamaica, returning to his time as an adviser to Prime Minister Michael Manley, who was the democratic socialist leader of the People’s National Party, and to the failure of the poverty-reduction program they tried to implement in the 1970s 

It is not all doom and gloom, however, especially when Patterson turns to Jamaica’s extraordinary cultural production. In examining the athletic prowess of the island’s runners, he swiftly dismantles any racist notion that Jamaicans are genetically more gifted as athletes, and instead returns to institutions. He lays Jamaica’s success in track and field at the swift feet of Michael Manley’s father, Norman, one of the nation’s founders, likening it to “the effect on track’s prestige in the United States had George Washington been a track star.” Manley was a talented athlete, and he promoted track and field as part of the formation of an independent national identity. Around this grew a nationwide infrastructure of running associations. Where institutions failed the economy, they proved to be champions in fostering athletics. In a similar vein, Patterson also looks at how the music industry has had enormous success beyond Bob Marley’s hits, in spite of the island’s limited resources.

Topics covered in other chapters range from women in the workplace to cricket, and such breadth makes this an eye-opening volume. It is also illuminating because Patterson carefully explores the complexity of the structural machinery behind Jamaica’s dazzling successes and dismal failures, rather than just chalking these up to simple causes. Although at times Patterson is critical of and disappointed by his fellow Jamaicans, his admiration for the nation’s independent spirit shines through.

Carrie Gibson is the author of “Empire’s Crossroads: A History of the Caribbean From Columbus to the Present Day” and, most recently, “El Norte: The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America.”

THE CONFOUNDING ISLAND
Jamaica and the Postcolonial Predicament
By Orlando Patterson
409 pp. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. $35.

 
 
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6635933494?profile=RESIZE_710x© Shaun Botterill Everton Weekes passed away on Wednesday

With the death of Everton Weekes on Wednesday at the age of 95, cricket has lost one of its greatest batsmen. He was also the the last of a legendary trio of cricketing knights, known as the Three Ws, who oversaw the rise of West Indies cricket after the Second World War. 

The numbers alone make impressive reading: in 48 Tests, played between 1948 and 1958, Weekes scored 4,455 runs at an average of 58.61. He made 15 centuries including five in an extraordinary sequence that remains a record today. But it was the way he made those runs that caught the imagination.

Former West Indies captain Jeffrey Stollmeyer described Weekes as "a five foot six inch bundle of muscle".

"There was no nonsense about Weekes, no tomfoolery. Once on the job, he was purposeful. His business was to score runs," said Stollmeyer.

"Playing strokes was the game he knew and loved best, and unless circumstances warranted discretion, Weekes would produce his smashing square cut, slashing cover drive, resounding hook and forceful on-drive for all to see and enjoy."

Everton de Courcy Weekes was born in Pickwick Gap, Barbados on February 26, 1925. He was one of three West indies greats to be born within a mile and a half of each other over an 18-month period. 

The others were Frank Worrell and Clyde Walcott. Together they were the Three Ws.

"Of the Ws, he (Weekes) was probably the most ruthless run-compiler, and his compact build and high-scoring performances inevitably invited comparisons with George Headley," wrote Denis Compton, one of the great England batsmen of the era.

It was thanks, in part, to Headley that Weekes found his feet in Test cricket. The 23-year-old had been picked to play in the first three Tests of the 1948 home series against a weakened MCC (England) team led by Gubby Allen but with a top score of 36 he was omitted for the fourth Test. But when the 39-year-old Headley withdrew through injury, Weekes was summoned to Kingston, not a popular choice among the Jamaicans who favoured their own JK Holt.

Weekes arrived midway through the first day after the journey from Barbados to be greeted with jeers and heckles but they turned to cheers a day later as he crashed an England attack that included Allen, Maurice Tremlett and Jim Laker for 141, leading to a 10-wicket win for the West Indies.

- 'Brilliant array of strokes' -

Weekes was on his way and when the West Indies went on to tour India later in the year, he produced successive innings of 128 in Delhi, 194 in Bombay and 162 and 101 in Calcutta. He ought to have had a sixth consecutive hundred but was run out for 90 in Madras, a decision that Walcott described as "rather doubtful".

In 1950 he played a key supporting role to spinners Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine in West Indies' 3-1 series win in England. He made three half-centuries and then 129 at Trent Bridge where he was watched admiringly by the former Nottinghamshire and England opener George Gunn. "I have seen them all since Victor Trumper and including (Don) Bradman," said Gunn who was 71 at the time having played first-class cricket between 1902 and 1932. "I have never seen a more brilliant array of strokes nor heard the ball so sweetly struck."

Weekes returned to England in 1957 which, although disappointing by his standards, produced one truly memorable innings. It came in the second innings at Lord's with the West Indies, still trailing England by 217, on 80-4 and facing a heavy defeat. The England attack of Fred Trueman, Brian Statham and Trevor Bailey exploited the ridge at the Nursery End to make the ball rear spitefully.

Weekes joined Garry Sobers and set about adding 100 in 95 minutes. Weekes took a blow to the hand which cracked a finger but in a three-hour stay at the crease, continued to carve the bowlers around Lord's, hitting 16 boundaries before being dismissed for 90. "Never was a more heroic batsman more deserving of a century. It was the innings of a genius," wrote Compton.  

With Weekes, Walcott and Worrell in the middle-order, the West Indies rose from being a lightweight Test nation to world-leaders, laying the ground for the likes of Garry Sobers, Rohan Kanhai, Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards.

After retiring from Test cricket in 1958, Weekes continued playing in the Lancashire League in England, became an admired administrator and lethal bridge player, representing Barbados, and was knighted in 1995.

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