Tag: Caribbean

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The tropical island of Jamaica, also known as the “land of wood and water,” got its name from the Indigenous Taino people who migrated to the island 2,500 years ago. Its unique history and African heritage heavily influence Jamaican culture. Initially inhabited by the Taino Indians from 1,000 BC., through the early 16th century, their culture thrived until the arrival of Spanish settlers. Due to disease, malnutrition, and slavery, the Taino civilization quickly became extinct. Christopher Columbus and Spanish settlers came in search of Gold and other natural resources, and Great Britain subsequently overthrew the Spanish in 1655.

Facts About Jamaican Festivals

IMG SOURCE: REDBULL.COM

Jamaica hosts vibrant, exciting festivals throughout the year. Some of the most popular festivals celebrated in Jamaica are Carnival and Reggae Sumfest. Carnival is typically observed in March before Easter and features music, dance, food, drinking, parties, and overall a fun party atmosphere. Reggae Sumfest is the largest music festival in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

Sumfest is held every year in July in Montego Bay. Reggae’s popularity brings thousands of people to Jamaica each year.

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From Archrivals to Legendary Dancehall Idols, Bounty Killer and Beenie Man Traded Amicable Lyrical Barbs at Reggae Sumfest 2019

In was at the 1993 stage show at Jamworld in Portmore, Jamaica known as ‘Sting’, which used be held annually on December 26th—commonly referred to as Boxing Day—where the entire country was seemingly overwhelmed by pandemonium as, dancehall entertainer, Beenie Man was in the midst of his performance when it was rudely interrupted by a menacing chant ‘People Dead’….‘People Deadd’….‘Deaaddd!!’  A startled Beenie Man quickly realized what was afoot.  That is, the figurative yet sorrowful exclamation which was heard throughout the Jamworld venue was echoing from the microphone of his fierce archrival, Bounty Killer, who had barged on stage as if he was a gladiator to challenge Beenie Man to a lyrical clash live, direct and unannounced at what has become known simply as ‘Sting 1993’.   Well, at Reggae Sumfest 2019 these same two dancehall icons met again on stage, only thing is that this time they were on much friendlier terms—to the delight of the massive audience that was on hand.

Bounty Killer on stage at Reggae Sumfest 2019 – Montego Bay, Jamaica

Born under the name of Rodney Pryce, Bounty Killer, was raised in the gritty inner-city West Kingston community of Seaview Gardens—which lies in the often violence torn area of Riverton City.   Not too far from there is Waterhouse—yet another hard scrabble neighborhood in West Kingston, Jamaica.  Moses Davis, who is popularly known as Beenie Man in Jamaica’s vibrant dancehall scene, hailed from Waterhouse.  Going beyond music and entertainment, it is also noteworthy that Shelly Ann-Fraser-Pryce, Jamaica’s world renowned sprinter and Olympic Champion (as well as World Champion) in the sport of track and field is also from that community.   In switching back to the musical genealogy of Waterhouse, King Jammy, who was a magician where producing reggae and dancehall music is concerned, also has his recording studio based in Waterhouse.  It was King Jammy’s brother, Uncle T, who first noticed a youngster who would always be hanging around outside Jammy’s studio and putting his talents on display for all to see—oftentimes challenging and putting down his competition in quick order.   The young lad who was creating such an impression outside Jammy’s studio went by the name of ‘Bounty Hunter’ at that time.  An audition platform in many ways, there was also an area within Seaview called ‘Superstar Corner’, which was where ‘Bounty Hunter’ had been honing his microphone skills for purposes of deejaying his lyrics in the dancehalls of Jamaica.   In those days, Seaview was no stranger  to spawning big time dancehall acts.  After all, dancehalls first bonafide international superstar, Shabba Ranks, came from Seaview.  And so as a result of Shabba’s rise to fame, ‘Superstar Corner’ was where Bounty Hunter and other dancehall deejays were afforded the chance to prove their worth to producers in the Jamaican music industry.  It became apparent that Uncle T ceded his control over Bounty Hunter to the studio’s owner, King Jammy, once Jammy was impressed and inquired about Rodney Pryce. At some point in that shuffle, ‘Bounty Hunter’ changed his name to ‘Bounty Killer’ in that his competition in the dancehall were not simply going to be hunted, but actually lyrically eliminated.  As it happened, Bounty Killer’s first major studio gem to hit the airwaves was titled, ‘Coppershot’ which was released in 1993 on King Jammy’s 5 Star General Riddim.  Fittingly, as a result Bounty donned the moniker, ‘5 Star General’—among many others that he’d pick up over the course of his much storied career. From then onwards, Bounty Killer’s hit parade then just rolled on and on with songs like:  ‘Down in the Ghetto’, ‘Poor People Fed Up’‘Suspense’, Eagle and Di Hawk’‘Living Dangerously’(recorded with Barrington Levy), ‘Sufferer’‘Benz and Bimma’‘Can’t Believe Mi Eyes’, and ‘Hey Baby’ (recorded with the international pop group, No Doubt).

Meanwhile, another young star in dancehall was on the rise in the Waterhouse community just the same.  Born under the name of Moses Davis, Beenie Man was a musical prodigy in that at the tender age of nine years old he recorded with the famous Bunny Lee.  And so then, Beenie Man and Bounty Killer proceeded to release hit after hit from the studios.  But according to Bounty Killer, it was King Jammy alone who he used as a vehicle to propel his career to the top of the heap of dancehall deejays in not only Kingston, but the world over.  Where Beenie was concerned, arguably his biggest crossover-style hit on the international scene was the infectious ‘Who Am I ?’ (Sim Simma…Who Got the Keys to Mi Bimma?).  That song seemingly took the world by storm.  But before Beenie had risen to those heights, Bounty Killer was convinced that Beenie had imitated his style in many ways—without any acknowledgement.  Well, while that is certainly up for debate it is arguable that Bounty’s belief in Beenie’s thievery of his style and pattern, consequently touched off a multi-decade lyrical war between him and Beenie Man.  All the while, Beenie Man just kept piling up the hits in his own right:   ‘Romie’‘Slam’‘Rum & Redbull’‘Ole Dog’‘Girls Dem Sugar’‘World Dance’‘Memories’‘Dengue Fever’‘King of the Dancehall’, and so many more.

Beenie Man on stage at Reggae Sumfest 2019 – Montego Bay, Jamaica

As an aside, it is worthy of note that Bounty Killer also has an eye for spotting talent and nurturing up-and-coming artists on their way to stardom.  In this respect, it was Bounty Killer who brought up Elephant Man, Mavado, and Vybz Kartel—all of whom had reached mega stardom in Jamaica and beyond courtesy of Bounty’s assistance and tutelage.  And along the way, Bounty Killer also has been referred to as ‘Di Poor Peoples’ Governor’ after the release of his politically laced recordings such as:  ‘Down in the Ghetto’ and ‘Poor People Fed Up’ where Bounty lashed out at the Jamaican government for what he viewed as transgressions against poor people and ‘ghetto yutes’ throughout the Kingston inner-city landscape.  What’s more, Bounty has always been steadfast in giving back to Kingston’s inner-city community by distributing school supplies to the underprivileged as well as lending a hand in painting over the Kingston Public Hospital (which treated him for a gunshot wound he suffered as a 16 year old youngster).  And for that reason, Bounty Killer says he’s forever indebted to the hospital.

Bounty Killer – Reggae Sumfest 2019 – Montego Bay, Jamaica

Against this backdrop, these two dancehall icons, Bounty Killer and Beenie Man, treated the masses that gathered to revel in Festival Night I (a.k.a. Dancehall Night) at Reggae Sumfest 2019 in Montego Bay to a performance segment for the ages as both legends strutted their stuff and traded lyrics to many of their songs live and direct against each other—which ignited the Sumfest crowd since the segment was reminiscent of ‘Sting 1993’.  However, this time around Bounty exclaimed during their set that this was not about Beenie vs. Bounty, but rather it was about Moses and Rodney.   And during their joint performance, Beenie Man humorously quipped, “mi a war wid Bounty Killer for over 25 years.”  And so it was, the Bounty and Beenie saga captured in one sentence, but yet their dominance in dancehall endured for over two decades while each artist shall surely forever remain in the annuls of Jamaica’s musical history and folklore in recognition of their sheer dominance.  In the eyes of many, the musical feud between Bounty Killer and Beenie Man served to nourish both of their remarkable careers—which many artists in the industry nowadays can only envy—in terms of the consistency and creativity that they both were able to sustain for so long.  Not to say that it’s not possible, but it is doubtful that Jamaica will ever see such a dynamic duo that went at each other’s throats, and yet became so magnificent after the dust from their many skirmishes has finally settled.   In a recent interview, Bounty Killer stated that it was never personal where the feud between him and Beenie was concerned.  Rather, it was a constant competition and quest that they both undertook in order to show Jamaica and the world at large which one of them was ‘di baddest’!  Now folks, that is another debate, in and of itself, that can easily go on for another two decades.

Bounty Killer and Beenie Man together on stage at Reggae Sumfest 2019 – Montego Bay, Jamaica

Photography by Nick Ford, who lives and works in South Florida.

 

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Live streaming garnered millions of impressions from as far as Australia, Dubai, Nigeria, Russia and Denmark

Forbes explained that the return on their investment is largely predicated on serving clients outside of Jamaica, as well as meeting the needs of discerning local clients who target international distribution. The technology was launched at the recent staging of Reggae Sumfest.

As the host broadcaster for Reggae Sumfest, Phase 3 provided its multi-camera 4K coverage of the concert to approved content distributors. Live streaming garnered millions of impressions from as far as Australia, Dubai, Nigeria, Russia and Denmark.

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PM Hails Successful Reggae Sumfest
ENTERTAINMENT
JULY 23, 2019
Story Highlights
  • Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says the successful staging of Reggae Sumfest 2019 is a powerful endorsement of Jamaica’s rich musical history.
  • Speaking to JIS News at the show’s final night on Saturday (July 20), Mr. Holness said he was very impressed with the huge turnout of both local and international patrons.
  • “This is the biggest Sumfest ever. Just looking back at Reggae Sumfest [shows] that I have attended… even dating back to Reggae Sunsplash… I have never seen this level of crowd… and the atmosphere is also great…,” he said.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says the successful staging of Reggae Sumfest 2019 is a powerful endorsement of Jamaica’s rich musical history.
Speaking to JIS News at the show’s final night on Saturday (July 20), Mr. Holness said he was very impressed with the huge turnout of both local and international patrons.
“This is the biggest Sumfest ever. Just looking back at Reggae Sumfest [shows] that I have attended… even dating back to Reggae Sunsplash… I have never seen this level of crowd… and the atmosphere is also great…,” he said.
“And when you are getting the views and the statistics from what is being live-streamed and broadcast on other media it is clear that this music festival, celebrating reggae, has been taken to another level,” he added.
Mr. Holness praised the event’s promoter, Businessman Joe Bogdanovich, noting that he “has taken the time to understand the product… to invest in the product… to be patient with the product” and is now reaping the benefits.
“His investment… has paid off. I think from here on it can only get bigger,” he said.
He noted that the performers used the platform given to them “to send a very powerful message about Jamaica’s art and culture”, noting that not a single international act was used to boost the appeal of the event.
The Prime Minister said that the success of Reggae Sumfest reinforces the fact that music continues to be an important value-added component of the tourism sector.
“When people come to our country they travel to gain an experience, and it is the interaction of the natural environment… the built environment… and the culture that gives that distinct experience. If the experience is good, they will want to come back again and again, and that is what we want to create. This festival is a very good example of the experience of our culture,” he pointed out.
For his part, Director of Tourism, Donovan White, said Reggae Sumfest 2019 has exceeded all expectations and painted Jamaica “in a very good light”.
“It has been an amazing experience, the performances, the production, the execution, the quality, the ability to pull Jamaicans out to enjoy Jamaican performers has been just unbelievable,” he beamed.
“I don’t believe we have ever had a Sumfest of this magnitude as it relates to patrons…,” he told JIS News.
Mr. White said the event’s success has now positioned Jamaica to build on the narrative of being the entertainment destination of the Caribbean, adding that it also provides an opportunity for “us to put on 21 days of constant and consistent events that cannot be found anywhere else in the region”.
“We believe, from early estimates, that the impact of Sumfest this year is no less than a billion dollars in Montego Bay’s economy,” Mr. White said.
“We have seen about 10,000 visitors coming in [over] just a week for Reggae Sumfest,” he added.
Reggae Sumfest was held from July 14 to 20 in Montego Bay, and was highlighted by a two-night stage show on July 19 and 20 at the Catherine Hall complex.
The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) was a major sponsor of the event.
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Reggae Sumfest Generates $1 Billion Jamaican Dollars for the Montego Bay Area & Country!
Jul 25, 2019  Latest Reggae News

The Team at Downsound Entertainment achieved their goals with making Reggae Sumfest a hugely attended international event! Anyone who wasn’t taking Reggae music & musicians seriously before – take note – the entire island has financially benefited from the Caribbean’s largest Reggae Festival that took place July 14-20, 2019. Several news channels has reported this figure, which was originally projected to be around $12 Million USD, it’s now closer to $75 Million USD. The hotels, restaurants, taxi drivers and businesses around Mobay were lively with an enthusiastic crowd and the 5 Pre-Events before Festival Nights 1 & 2 helped keep everyone in an irie mood for the entire week.

As evident from the overhead drone shots, the festival was packed with locals and the 10,000+ that flew in specifically for Sumfest 2019. Downsound Entertainment also provided free live-streaming on their Youtube Channel and DSE TV for the entire shows on Friday & Saturday night. The Livestreams were also highly attended with over 10K international viewers all joining in on the good vibes and stellar performances.

If you missed it or want to watch again all of the performances are on their channel HERE https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHWqekyGOTkdu8IlcapvJSw/videos

For more news on Reggae Sumfest visit: https://reggaesumfest.com/

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Reggae Sumfest Generates $1 Billion Jamaican Dollars for the Montego Bay Area & Country!

The Team at Downsound Entertainment have definitely achieved their goals with making Reggae Sumfest a hugely attended international event! Anyone who wasn’t taking Reggae music & musicians seriously before – take note – the entire island has financially benefited from the Caribbean’s largest Reggae Festival that took place July 14-20, 2019.

Several news channels have reported this figure, which was originally projected to be around $12 Million USD, it’s now closer to $75 Million USD. The hotels, restaurants, taxi drivers and businesses around Mobay were lively with an enthusiastic crowd and the 5 Pre-Events before Festival Nights 1 & 2 helped keep everyone in an irie mood for the entire week.

As evident from the overhead drone shots, the festival was packed with locals and the 10,000+ that flew in specifically for Sumfest 2019.

Downsound Entertainment also provided free live-streaming on their Youtube Channel and DSE TV for the entire shows on Friday & Saturday night.

The Livestreams were also highly attended with over 10K international viewers all joining in on the good vibes and stellar performances.

If you missed it or want to watch again all of the performances are on their channel HERE https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHWqekyGOTkdu8IlcapvJSw/videos

For more news on Reggae Sumfest visit: https://reggaesumfest.com/
Original Article from Reggae Festival Guide

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Our Music, Our Festival
Saturday, July 27, 2019

Since its inception, Reggae Sumfest has proven itself to be the greatest reggae show on earth. This year, an estimated 10,000 visitors came to The Rock to see some of the best local talent. So much so, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has indicated that J$1 billion was generated at the just-concluded music festival.

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Caribbean Airlines’ Maiden Sumfest
Saturday, July 27, 2019

On its maiden flight as title sponsor of Reggae Sumfest, Caribbean Airlines hosted a gaggle of guests with interests ranging from government and business to style and academia, making its VIP Lounge the hotspot destination at Catherine Hall.

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Yes, Jamaica is a real place. That’s a question that commonly pops up on social media because some of the things you see about Jamaica…you can only see in Jamaica. And only understand it in a Jamaican context. I am biased by birth, but I truly feel that the island of Jamaica is magnificent for so many reasons.

A place with beautiful weather, delicious food, the most charismatic people you’ll ever meet, gorgeous landscapes, a tourism industry like no other, a unique style of music that has transcended borders and inspired a multitude of sub-genres within the genre, and an abundance of talent performing, managing, and maintaining the industry that makes this island experience one that millions continue to return to. Reggae Sumfest is one night of the year where Jamaica has the opportunity to put this talent on full display and remind the world just how powerful and influential reggae music is.

Downsound Entertainment, in association with sponsors including Grace Foods, Pepsi Jamaica, Jamaica Tourism, Mastercard, Caribbean Airlines Wray & Nephew, and many other top brands and businesses presented the annual Reggae Sumfest music festival in Montego Bay, Jamaica this weekend, after a week of pre-show festivities. A symposium, social media awards, a sound clash, and themed parties helped to get visitors and locals in a reggae frame of mind before the two nights of performances began.

My experience with Reggae Sumfest has been top notch, and I continue to be impressed by how this machine runs. From the accreditation process, to the online updates, an impeccable social media campaign, and outstanding live coverage during the festival…this weekend has proven to be a master class in event production and entertainment, and I am using this opportunity to take notes on how a large-scale event should run. Somehow, that is what seduced me most about this year’s presentation: how seamless it was.

Surely, Sumfest is not without its issues. Like any event planner knows, what happens on the outside and what happens in real-time with check lists and day-to-day execution is probably quite different. That being said, knowing how complex an event of this size and nature must be, I truly believe that Reggae Sumfest continues to be an essential part of the many highlights of Brand Jamaica that circulate around the globe spreading good vibes and positive messaging about our wonderful country.

I feel proud. Truly. Despite the awesome performances, and the new additions to the Jamaican entertainment story (Friday night with no Squash, and Buju’s return to the festival), I feel proud to be of Jamaican descent. Proud to see the all-Jamaican lineup of artists, and the supporting cast around them like the marketers, the reporters, and the various ambassadors. It felt like success. It felt like a home run. It felt like the perfect packaging of a culture and environment that so many of us love dearly. It felt like Jamaican excellence.

I learned a lot about Sumfest this year. Although it has existed for over two decades, with Sunsplash preceding it: this is no new occurrence. In fact, festivals like Sumfest, and Rebel Salute, and other special events have been drawing specialty crowds to Jamaica for years. This particular year, however, I learned a lot of great facts about the Sumfest brand and what is has become in 2019.

For example, I listened to a Jamaican PR Strategist discuss the changes made to Sumfest so that now Jamaican artists are highlighted, without relying on American/foreign stars to headline the show. I learned about the restructuring of the event to reduce the festival to two nights, yet still providing a full week of warm-up activities to accommodate those who want to enjoy a few days of celebration before the show.

I was able to hear what the Sumfest administrators thought about elements of Jamaican culture like the sound clash, and how reggae lovers from outside of the Caribbean are studying and indulging in the culture, and mastering aspects of it in their own unique ways. As someone that was born and raised in Canada, I enjoy learning about how Jamaican residents perceive their cultural impact, and am also proud to see Jamaican-Canadians like King Turbo Sound, Chelsea Stewart, and others have prominent roles in the weekend’s proceedings.

Hearing Joe Bogdanovich speak about the importance of supporting generational changes in music, and seeing it reflected in some of the performances was interesting, as was listening to his assistant and event administrator Karla Jankee discuss her multiple roles, and how they take her across the world sharing the good news of reggae. From the interviews and pre-show with Kamilah McDonald and Nikki Z, and the engaging social media narrative, Sumfest was off to a good start before it even began.

via @cstewartsings
The show opened with Toronto’s very own Chelsea Stewart backed by the Warrior Love Band, and continued to feature new acts like Mr. Chumps, Celebrity, and Ricky Tee’s. Watching them in interview and on stage, I was reminded of Rygin King and his role in last year’s Sumfest. As mentioned, “you never known who will be the next big thing.” It was interesting to see the news faces and speculate about where they may or may not be by Sumfest 2020. It’s a reminder of the constant creativity in music and the culture, and how quickly legacies are built, or in some unfortunate cases…forgotten.

Harry Toddla provided many great flashbacks, injecting a new energy to the evening from before midnight. DJ’s Liquid and Noah Powa were most definitely entertaining, bringing an element of laughter and parody, and a few impersonations. Also funny: the evening’s host.

Admittedly, I’m late to the Shauna Chin narrative, but after that performance of hers, I think I’m going to go back into blog history and see just how significant her redemption statement really was and why. I believe this may also involve pursuing the Instagram timeline of Foota Hype…and I’m 100% sure the story will be shocking, as were her outfits and her defiant lyrics.

During Shauna Controlla’s performance, my attention lingered on the Jamaican audience and their amazing method of paying extreme attention to every detail on stage, while still appearing to be quite disinterested. I remembered this from my visit to Rebel Salute earlier this year where despite witnessing some of THE most exciting performance of the night, the audience was still hesitant to exhibit extreme enjoyment.

This is one of the elements of the Jamaican spirit that I most appreciate: the ridiculously high entertainment standards, and an acute attention to detail, wardrobe, movements, and nuance. The Jamaican musical audience is probably one of the most aware–and critical–of listeners internationally. Not easily impressed, they truly make the performers work for accolades and earn their forwards.

via @bojtv
Even Munga, performing so many classics that I had to remind myself to give them another listen this weekend. The height of Munga’s career was also the height of my young party life. In a 2007 clip of Munga’s first concert in Toronto (in a mediocre video with abusively terrible audio quality that I should be embarrassed to link back to), I was quite excited to hear “Earthquake” and his other string of hits. I’m glad he has come back to the stage and resurrected his career with style.

via @loopjamaica
Also exciting for a woman of my age: seeing Spragga Benz back on stage, looking as good as ever. Full of charm. A youthful glow. Possessing that same distinguished voice that we all loved some 25 years ago. And whether he was performing “Machine Gun Kelly” (straight from the basement parties of 1995), or his latest hit “Differ”…it was a joy. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one also patiently waiting for him to remove the outer layer of clothing and remind us of how many hours he’s been putting in at the gym. He look proper.

Just before Elephant Man returned to the Sumfest stage, a switch of hosts for the evening presented the lovely Miss Kitty draped in red excitement, and a perfect match for the increase in energy that Ele brought to the venue. My artists! The ones that bring the nostalgia, the dance moves, and the good feelings that go along with each memory attached to their popular songs.

via My Jamaica Today
Elephant Man was fabulous, and everything we needed him to be. He ran. He climbed. He took off pieces of his costume armour, and he reminded us of exactly who he be. A legend of dancehall, and someone that we can always hold in high regard and look at fondly whether he’s performing a new album, or simply making us move with his original classics. We owe Elephant Man a lot. He brought us all so much joy, laughter, and, well…”energy” over the years. He is a treasure, for sure.

Agent Sasco, was excellent as per usual. He is a legend in the making, and that voice of his always reminds me that he is one of a kind. Spice: a consummate performer, with so many outfits and stage moments worth remembering. She truly is on top of her game right now, and it’s nice to see.

Beenie Man and Bounty Killer, Koffee and Chronixx. It almost goes without saying. These are artists that have all proven themselves, in various ways, to be irreplaceable icons in the reggae music industry. So much greatness, and so many great songs to accompany their existence.

With a backdrop of morning sunshine in Montego Bay, Dexta Daps, Govana, Aidonia, and a few other new artists like Shane E, Fully Bad, and Jahvillani closed out the show. As for the 6ixx Squad and Squash…unfortunately his big moment is a thing of hypothetical planning only. According to reports, the police did not approve of the profanity used by other artists, and the fact that the show was running over its permitted time…so they locked it off.

Festival Night 2 brought in a few early acts, before the highly anticipated performance from Dalton Harris took place. One thing is for sure: the man can SING. Like really, really sing. He was definitely a showman. He was for sure a little bit defensive. Dalton had a lot to prove and a lot to say, and in the end…I have to give it up for his talent, which is undeniable. He is a force.

Any appearance from Jah9 and Etana are good appearances, as far as I’m concerned. Those two woman embody grace and intelligence, and I do believe they are an amazing and necessarily element to the music scene. From the Shauna Controlla and Spice sexiness, to the conscious lyrics and messaging of Jah9 and Etana, Jamaican women were presented from all angles.

The women continued to inspire me when Protoje brought out Lila Ike and Sevana as a part of his set. In addition to featuring Jesse Royal and Sasco during his segment, he truly did shine a light on Lila and Sevana in the best ways. Solid. As they sang, as they moved, and as they shared their lyrics, I was so inspired by what they represented, again in another contrast to the previous female performers. It presented such a thorough look at womanhood, and female expression. It felt like big things were about to happen for women in the reggae, and I’m all here for it.

I fully expect Lila Ike to have a role in next year’s Sumfest. Of all the artists, she really left an impression on me as someone who truly deserves an increased in profile.

Uncle Beres. No words. The quiet Jamaican audience from the early hours immediately transformed into a most humbled collective of music lovers and fans. Hit after hit, folks sang along with Beres, cheered to Beres, and praised their artist with the utmost respect and appreciation. A living legend and someone a true reggae fan can never, ever tire of. Beres Hammond was a complete pleasure to watch, as always.

Romain Virgo had another poignant moment of the night, when the young and beautiful Teshae Silvera joined him on stage to sing her cover of Romain’s song calling out child abuse. “You dutty man! You dutty man! Leave the people pickney dem alone!” she sang, to one of the biggest forwards of the night. This angel left an impression on many, and when I first glimpsed her Instagram page she only had 60 followers. I most definitely expect this to be a different situation by tomorrow, now that her handle @Teshae_Silvera is being circulated.

Christopher Martin was excellent. He is always excellent, and in the second-most anticipated appearance of Buju Banton in nearly a decade…he returned to the Sumfest stage to an equally warm reception as his first post-incarceration show. What’s not to love about Buju? He is embedded in our hearts, and it is still great to live in a world where we can see him on road. Also a treat: his new song Steppa was also released this week.

Jamaica has my heart. The island, the people, the food, the culture, the language, the antics, the brilliance, the everything. Most importantly, the music that plays while we live life, while we travel, and while we grow. Reggae music allows an innate appreciation for the culture, just by rhythm alone. The drums and basslines, the horns and background vocalists–from the Warrior Love Band to the Harmony House Band and Singers…it’s all just a spectacular music to take in. Especially on a large scale.

Reggae Sumfest has proven, yet again, to be the biggest reggae show on earth with a great structure, and an even greater pool of talent to select from. Big up to the team involved in executing this year’s event so wonderfully, and for making the experience for a reggae lover living out here in the diaspora, to feel a little bit of home every time I take part in a viewing event like this. From the production value, to the praise for young Teshae, Sumfest was entertaining from beginning to end. It was Jamaican excellence, personified. Next year won’t miss me.

Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing’s “Urban Toronto Tales” blog.

 

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