May 2018


Reggae Sumfest Awaits Tommy Lee Sparta

Published:Wednesday | May 30, 2018 | Christopher Thomas/ Gleaner Writer

Tommy Lee


With his release from police custody without charge yesterday, the way has now been paved for dancehall artiste Tommy Lee Sparta to appear as one of the headline acts at the 2018 staging of Reggae Sumfest.

In an interview with The Gleaner yesterday, shortly after St James Senior Parish Judge Sandria Wong-Small ordered Tommy Lee’s release, Joe Bogdanovich, CEO of Reggae Sumfest, said that he welcomed the news and is looking forward to a stellar performance by the artiste.

“Tommy Lee was booked for Sumfest two months ago, so, naturally, we are happy that he is now free to perform,” said Bogdanovich.

When quizzed as to what advice he would give Tommy Lee, who has been having regular run-ins with the police for the past three years, Bogdanovich, who also heads Downsound Records, had one, simple word of advice.


“I would tell him to focus on his music, and leave the side issues alone,” said Bogdanovich, who intimated that if artistes paid more attention to developing their craft and their brands as entertainers, there would be less room for the issues that sometimes land them in trouble.

Tommy Lee, whose given name is Leroy Russell, is originally from Flanker in St James but has been based in Kingston over the past four years. He was arrested on Sunday, May 20, shortly after he had performed at the culmination show for the 2018 Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall showcase in Kingston.

Last Tuesday, Judge Sandria Wong-Small ordered the police to either charge the entertainer or release him by yesterday. With no charges laid against him, the judge order the artiste’s immediate release from the Freeport Police Station, where he was being held.

“With all due respect, I do not agree that he [Tommy Lee] has been properly taken into custody under the SOE (state of public emergency) in these particular circumstances. I do not find that he is properly detained, and he needs to be released,” said Wong-Small.


Talent show winner heads to Sumfest

Kimberley Small

May 29, 2018
Contributed Red Stripe Big Buss Kingston winner Morvin Pennant accepts a gift basket from a promotional girl.

Morvin Pennant, now better known by his stage name, Hikaliba, was named the Kingston winner of the Red Stripe Big Buss Talent Search, held at Gee Wee Restaurant last Thursday night.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a miracle. Maybe it was meant for me,” Pennant told THE STAR.

Red Stripe, the title sponsor for Reggae Sumfest 2018, has been looking for the island’s next big stars, who will get their chance to perform at the biggest music festival in the country in July.

Interested parties were invited to participate in an audition, where they recorded a one-minute video of themselves performing an original song and emailed the video for consideration for the competition. Pennant received a message about the competition from his friend.

“I did have a video, so I asked my team to send it in. It was ironic because they tried to send it and it didn’t load,” he said.

“One of my friends say, ‘How come you in the Big Buss thing?’ I thought, ‘What are you talking about?’ When I check it out, ‘surprised’ is not even the word. It was like, ‘How is this possible?’ It was a week after we supposedly sent it in. It did work when my friend thought it didn’t. It did!”


“Then, I got an email that said I was drafted into the finals, so I should be prepared,” the aspiring artiste continued.

Pennant describes the experience so far as a good one, and his expectations for Sumfest are high. “I’ve always wanted to grace this stage. It’s funny how I’m getting to do it. But it doesn’t matter how I get there, I did it!”

He entered the competition not knowing what to expect, having entered the Tastee Talent Competition years ago. “It was so many years ago, I don’t even remember, so I never remembered how it felt. It was cool!”

Along with performing on the festival stage, Pennant will receive a cash prize of $100,000 and mentorship from legendary producer Mikey Bennett.

Pennant is most looking forward to the mentorship aspect of his winning package. “All this stuff added to it, I need this. Because I’m self-taught. Nobody taught me, so talking to people who know, it will be good for me,” he told THE STAR.

“It was a good experience for me. I give Red Stripe a tick for giving me the opportunity to do this. It’s something that got me on a huge stage. I needed this at the moment, so I’m grateful. It teaches me that all I need to do is turn up.”

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The North-American-based JetBlue Airways is confirmed as one of the premium sponsors of Reggae Sumfest 2018. Joe Bogdanovich, DownSound Entertainment (DSE) CEO, who acquired
the Sumfest Brand in 2016 welcomes the addition of JetBlue to the raft of sponsors. “The fact that JetBlue, an overseas based company, recognizes the value of the Reggae Sumfest Brand on the global scene clearly demonstrates its growth in influence and importance over its history.
Jamaican music, since the 1960s, with the emergence of icons such as Bob Marley, Toots
Hibbert, and Jimmy Cliff, has not only captured the imagination of numerous people across the
globe but has been integral to the mushrooming of Brand Jamaica. Reggae Sumfest is, perhaps,
the most influential vehicle to leverage and sustain Brand Jamaica and further promote the
island and its music”, Mr. Bogdanovich said.
Mr Sepp Donahower, Director Global Marketing for DSE, shared that, “Jet Blue is the official
and exclusive Airline Partner for Reggae Sumfest 2018, and will be the presenting sponsor for
the Live Stream of Reggae Sumfest 2018 on all DSE platforms. Since acquisition of Reggae
Sumfest in 2016, DSE has been engaged in bringing world class high production Live Streaming
and Video content of Reggae Sumfest to the world with ever expanding reach, on multiple
streaming and broadcast platforms. In 2017 during festival week, Reggae Sumfest had over
1,250,000 views watching the Live Stream and uploaded videos.” Reggae Sumfest for 2018 is
expected to continue this explosive streaming and viewing growth, which brought Jet Blue in as
a presenting partner for the stream. Fans will be able to access the Live Stream for 2018
through the Live Streaming page on the website.” But, as Bogdanovich
points out, “there is nothing that can replace the energy and excitement of being at Catherine
Hall live”.
Past festivals and videos can be viewed on the YouTube channel & Reggae Sumfest Live
Streaming &  Video.
JetBlue, on the other hand, is elated to take part in Reggae Sumfest and will be working with
Reggae Sumfest and the Jamaica Tourist Board to give away hotel and air ticket inclusive 2 packages for two lucky winners to come to the festival from the United States. Additionally, plans are in place for a joint promotion locally to give away tickets to the festival.
“As the official airline partner of Reggae Sumfest, we are thrilled to be a part of this
extraordinary event that promotes Jamaican culture and brings people together through their
love of music. Reggae Sumfest is a great opportunity to showcase Jamaica as the relevant
destination that it is, while also benefitting its tourism industry and local economy”, stated
Giselle Cortes, Director of International Airports and Commercial. “JetBlue strives to support
the communities we serve by providing our customers, business partners and crew members
with outstanding experiences such as this one”, she added.
JetBlue is New York s Hometown Airline®, and a leading carrier in Boston, Fort Lauderdale-
Hollywood, Los Angeles (Long Beach), Orlando, and San Juan. JetBlue carries more than 40
million customers a year to 102 cities in the US,Caribbean, and Latin America with an average of
1,000 daily flights. For more information please visit
“We are very proud of what we have been able to achieve in the past two years. We built on
the firm foundation laid by the Summerfest Team and it is our intention to grow the festival
further. In keeping with that objective, we are offering patrons more and more each year”, Mr
Bogdanovich said.

Montego Bay, JA Sumfest Blitz Pre-Event is a Sizzling Addition to the Week-Long Reggae Sumfest Festivities in Paradise

Have you heard about the Reggae Sumfest Blitz All-Black Edition? The Blitz will take place on Wednesday, July 18th at 8 pm. at a new venue for Reggae Sumfest the swanky Hard Rock Café in Montego Bay. Get ready to slip into your sexiest black outfit, be wined and dined, and enjoy the upscale Jamaican party experience.

The event’s performers both come from Jamaican families: The UK’s sexy dancehall rapper Stefflon Don and Safaree from VH1’s Love & Hip Hop. They will perform incredible sets, with music juggling from the popular DJs: Creep from Chromatic, Rolexx, Noah Powah & Team Shella.

It’s going to be a high-energy event with special mixed drinks and gourmet cuisine all included in admission price.

Start making your travel arrangements now as this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take in all of the pre-events and authentic Jamaican reggae festivities all within one week in gorgeous Montego Bay.

Get your advance tickets now for sale here


Must be 18 or over to Drink- Drink Responsibly

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Tourists Flock Jamaica For Sumfest, Says White

Published:Saturday | May 19, 2018 | 

Director of Tourism Donovan White (left) in a jovial mood as he chats with Robert Russell of Summerfest Productions at the launch of Reggae Sumfest 2018 at the Iberostar Suites in Montego Bay, St James, yesterday.

Calling Reggae Sumfest the epitome of Brand Jamaica, Director of Tourism Donovon White says the annual music festival is now one of the main pull factors bringing visitors to Jamaica.

Addressing a roomful of industry players and media personalities at the Iberostar Suites, Montego Bay, leg of the launch of Reggae Sumfest yesterday, White said the event can now easily be compared to “anything we have out there on the world stage”.

“The gains we have seen from staging an event of this magnitude have been phenomenal,” White said.

“Reggae Sumfest is now more than just your traditional show. It represents Jamaica and the Jamaican brand. It is a grand showcase of our music, our great tradition, our people and some of the greatest set of musicians in the world today.”

White, however, said that despite the growth of Sumfest, more has to be done to get Jamaica to enjoy more of the benefits of reggae, “which is on full display in venues across the world”.

“My feeling is that when you see a show in, say, places like Germany that pulls in 50,000-plus patrons for four consecutive nights … to watch a reggae festival without one single Jamaican act on it … it makes you ask the question … where is our music.”

White said that while there is no ready answer to address the concern, “we have to start the conversation as to who is managing our music … . How do we get some benefits from what is our own authentic music?”

“There is a serious ownership structure in the music that belongs to Jamaica,” he further explained. “We have seen reggae evolve from mento, from ska, into rocksteady, into dancehall. This is our music and our legacy. We have to be more involved on the business side.

“If that music is being reproduced in other parts of the world, what is our economic benefit? How do Jamaica and our musicians benefit from that?”

White said that while it’s flattering that reggae is being embraced globally “like never before”, Jamaican artistes have to better position themselves to get into the mainstream where they can be an integral part of the “lucrative market that is out there”.

“We are now past the flattery aspect of things,” he added. “We are now into trying to figure out how we can benefit from what is authentically ours.”

White also said that the Jamaican artistes have a very important role to play when they go on shows overseas, adding that “they are also an important part of brand Jamaica”.

“Our musicians are our ambassadors … . We must never forget that,” he added. “When they go out there on the world stage, they are representing Jamaica. They should also understand that music is a very powerful forum that they can use to spread a positive message … something that Sumfest has been doing for the past 25 years.”

The festival, which will be staged in the tourism capital from July 15 to 22, will see performances on the main nights from the likes of Beres Hammond, Damion ‘Junior Gong’ Marley, Capleton, Baby Cham, Spice, Popcaan and Tommy Lee.

The reggae festival kicks off with a beach party tagged Colourfest at Tropical Bliss. The event culminates at Catherine Hall Complex on Friday, July 20, and Saturday July 21st, climaxing with the Sumfest Morning Medz Tailgate at the Dump Up Beach.

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AG assures support for Sumfest amid security measures in Montego Bay

Attorney General and MP for West Central St James, Marlene Malahoo Forte with Sumfest organisers Robert Russell (left) and Joe Bogdanovich.Attorney General and MP for West Central St James, Marlene Malahoo Forte with Sumfest organisers Robert Russell (left) and Joe Bogdanovich.

Attorney General and Member of Parliament for West Central St James, Marlene Malahoo Forte has assured organisers of the annual Reggae Sumfest event in Montego Bay that she stands ready to make representations on their behalf to ensure that the enhanced security measures that have been rolled out in the parish do not adversely impact this year’s staging of the music festival.

Reggae Sumfest 2018 will take place at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Centre in Montego Bay, St James from July 15 to 22, 2018.  The festival is dubbed “the world’s greatest music festival”.

Following a recent meeting with Reggae Sumfest organisers Joe Bogdanovich and Robert Russell, Malahoo Forte said that she was pleased to hear from the businessmen, who declared their support of the extension of the state of public emergency, while candidly sharing their concerns about any logistic issue that may impact the staging of the music festival.

Malahoo Forte, in a news release, said “We had a very candid and cordial meeting.  The main issue discussed was the likely impact of the extension of the State of Public Emergency on Reggae Sumfest 2018.  Given the importance of the festival to the economy and the fact that my St James West Central Constituency is the home of the event, I assured the businessmen that I stand ready to make representation on their behalf to ensure that the enhanced safety and security objectives of the State are realised in ways that do not negatively impact the organizers, goods and service providers, patrons and everyone involved in the staging of the festival.”

Malahoo Forte said she will be keeping a close watch and she stands ready to have necessary dialogue with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that the event which has proven over the years to be a main bread-earner for citizens of St James is properly managed and implemented in the context of a state of public emergency.

“Music is regarded as one of the world’s most potent unifying forces and Reggae Sumfest brings people from all walks of life together.  In addition, the event provides much needed seasonal employment for our local citizens, a number of whom are from my St James West Central Constituency,” she said.

“Over the years, Reggae Sumfest has been a main bread-earner for the people.  It has also played a major role in attracting visitors to our second city,” she continued. “This has a  huge financial impact on our country’s economy.”

Meanwhile, CEO of Downsound Music, Joe Bogdonovich is excited about this year’s show which kicks off on Sunday July 15 with a Colourfest Beach Party which will be followed by a street dance along Montego Bay’s hip strip on July 16, an all-white party at Pier One on June 17 before the much anticipated World Sound Clash, also at Pier One, on July 19 and the two mega nights at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Centre on July 20 and 21.

Included also is Blitz at Hard Rock Café on July 18 and a Reggae Industry Symposium at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on July 20 and the Morning Medz at Dump Up Beach on the morning of July 22.

According to Bogdonovich, “We are in high spirits as we look forward to the 26th staging of Reggae Sumfest. We have added a few new events this year which we know will be well supported.  We love Montego Bay and we always seek to give the people what they want. The line-up for the two nights at Catherine Hall is the best. We have the boss, Beres Hammond, Grammy winning Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley and the Fireman Capleton as well as Maxi Priest who is well loved by all. In addition the crowd’s favourites are there and we should have a great show”.




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