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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sumfest highlights the economic value of events
Wednesday, July 31, 2019
A section of the crowd at Reggae Sumfest
People engaged in the travel industry will admit that events hold the potential to drive huge visitor traffic to a destination.
For example, Summerfest, the 50-year-old music festival staged on the shore of Lake Michigan in the United States is reported to attract audiences in the range of 800,000 to 900,000 annually.
Probably the fact that Summerfest, staged in late June and early July, features more than 700 artistes performing on 11 different stages over 11 days is what influenced its ranking by the Guinness Book of Records in 1999 as ‘The world’s largest music festival’.
However, Summerfest’s audience numbers pale when compared to the approximately 2.65 million that are said to attend the Mawazine Festival staged in Rabat, Morocco, each year in May and which features huge American and African acts.
As is to be expected, shops, local markets, transportation, restaurants, hotels, and many more businesses benefit from the Mawazine Festival. In fact, data from the festival’s website indicate that the event is a major source of business for Morocco. Retail, catering, and the transportation sectors are reported to experience growth in sales by an average of 30 per cent, we are told. In addition, hotels have reported increases in sales by an average of 22 per cent.
While we have not yet received official data from Jamaica’s tourism authorities, word is that an estimated 10,000 visitors came here during the staging of this year’s Reggae Sumfest.
In fact, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has indicated that $1 billion was generated at the music festival held July 14-20 in Montego Bay, the city regarded as Jamaica’s tourism capital.
But even without the official data, no one can challenge the benefit of Reggae Sumfest to the Jamaican economy, as the event, titled ‘The greatest reggae festival on Earth’, has immense international appeal, driven by our music and reputation as one of the world’s leading visitor destinations.
From all reports, this year’s staging of Sumfest was successful, and the organisers are describing it as the “biggest and best ever” in the festival’s history.
“It went very, very well,” Mr Robert Russell, a co-founder of the festival, told this newspaper. “Everybody has done very well. The vendors are happy; the massive crowd is happy; the musicians, the security forces… everything has gone very well this year.”
Based on that success, and armed with the knowledge that events do attract large numbers of visitors to tourist destinations, the organisers of Reggae Sumfest are mulling the staging of a jazz and blues music festival.
That type of event is not foreign to Jamaica, as in previous years the country successfully hosted the Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, featuring mega stars such as Celine Dion, Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, George Benson, Al Jarreau, Patti LaBelle, Diana Ross, Lionel Ritchie, Kenny Rogers, Air Supply, Maroon 5, Mariah Carey, The Pointer Sisters, and Babyface, to name a few.
These types of events can be extremely expensive to stage, but the team of investors involved in Reggae Sumfest have the requisite skill and experience to do well. As such, they should be encouraged to seriously take on the staging of a jazz and blues festival, as that will give a further boost to the economy and, of course, our tourism industry.
Sumfest gets high marks
BY MARK CUMMINGS
Tuesday, July 23, 2019 1 comment
Organisers of the 27th Reggae Sumfest have hailed it as the “biggest and best ever” in its history. They pointed to the massive crowds and excellent delivery by artistes, during its live performance nights last Friday and Saturday at Catherine Hall Entertainment Centre in Montego Bay.
“This is just awesome in every way. Spiritually-wise, no violence … and that is what Reggae Sumfest is all about. Last night (Friday) was very, very big, the biggest ever until tonight (Saturday). The good thing is that everybody was all working together, the fire department, the police, the health department,” Sumfest boss Josef Bogdanovich told the Jamaica Observer shortly before the show ended Sunday morning.
Reggae Sumfest co-founder Robert Russell expressed similar sentiments.
“It is the biggest Sumfest ever, no question about that,” he stressed. “It went very, very well, everybody has done very well. The vendors are happy, the massive crowd is happy, the musicians, the security forces … everything has gone very, well this year.”
Russell said the strong line-up of artistes was the main reason for the tremendous support from patrons.
“The line-up is one of the key ingredients for the success of any show, and we had a great line-up, and that manifested itself in the crowd support.”
Timeless Beres Hammond The King Of Lovers Rock Thrills Reggae Sumfest
by J.D. Smith July 22, 2019
The king of lovers rock did not disappoint those on hand at Reggae Sumfest last night. He reeled off countless hits which have transcended generations, which was evident when taking the crowd reaction into consideration.
Young and old were captivated by Uncle Beres’ raspy vocals and melodies. Some were even surprised to see the energy the veteran left on the stage. For me, this performance easily ranks among the top 3 performances at the entire festival, legendary to say the least.
He ran through his hits like “Rock Away,” “No Disturb Sign,” “Step Aside Now” to a sing-along choir of thousands of patrons. Beres had the ladies in the venue in a frenzy. One patron said, “I would never allow Beres to sing to my girl,” and who would blame him.
The “Sweet Life” singer proved last night that he is the best ever to do it ( lovers rock ). I mean, Beres had one of the most genuine receptions I have ever seen, the relationship between Jamaica and this entertainer is unmovable and unbreakable.
All the stars were out enjoying the performance with the master. Jesse Royal and the likes of Agent Sasco looked to the stage attentively as if God descended, hardcore deejay Govana was caught on screen lip sinking the lyrics of “Sweet Life.” Beres it seems is a favorite even among the superstars in the industry.
After experiencing dancehall night, a great spectacle, last night was actually an improvement. Veterans like Beres Hammond proved that they were on another level performance-wise, vocally as well, just top class.
Stars Shine Brightly On Reggae Sumfest Night 2
Published:Monday | July 22, 2019 | 12:16 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
Protoje performs with two of his friends, Lila Ike and Agent Sasco.
Awake from their slumber last Saturday night, the audience that stood in anticipation of the performance from former musical protégé Protoje acknowledged that he has since mastered the craft.
With the fullest versatility on display, the Grammy-nominated lyricist, a Lion King in his own right, questioned Who is a Scar to a Simba, the collab with Jessie Royal on Royal’s Lion Order.
Whether it was with Like This or Rasta Man , featuring Ky-Mani Marley, Protoje built the energy of the audience, which had only previously been stirred by X-Factor/Digicel Rising stars Dalton Harris.
Introducing newcomer Lila Ike to his set led to a resounding ovation, which doubled when Agent Sasco made a surprise entrance. Singer/DJ Chronixx joined Protoje on stage, with the internationally acclaimed Who Knows receiving the loudest ovation of the night to that point.
Buju Banton had not yet hit the stage, neither had two of the Digicel Rising Stars trio. Romain Virgo and Christopher Martin, who made history by being on the same internationally acclaimed stage performing for the same audience in one night.
Opening with a rendition of Sam Smith’s Stay With Me, Virgo stepped on stage donned in a fashionable three-pieced suit. As he inquired if the crowd believed in love,In This Together and Wanna Go Home showed that he definitely did, whereas Love Doctor and Don’t You Remember showed his vocal prowess. The audience itself was just as Rich in Love as Virgo was, feeling the power of his robust set. The loudest ovation was for 10-year-old Tashae Silvera, who chastised the “dutty men” and the “waste men” alike, with the background showing the statistics of missing children.
You can never go wrong with ending your set with the country’s national anthem, and Virgo did so flawlessly.
The consummate professional, beckoned by his given name, Hugh Beresford Hammond, showed that few things are as consistent as the excellence of a Beres Hammond performance. Come Back Home did not disappoint Step Aside Now and Standing in the Way both pleaded for a lesser man to move up. In making the crowd Feel Good, Hammond expressed the same sentiment.
Even though every song is a classic, Double Trouble and Putting Up Resistancespoke to timeless hits the cultured Catherine Hall crowd could appreciate. “I wonder if you remember this song yah.” Seriously, Hammond? Catherine Hall, Reggae Sumfest, Montego Bay remember every word to every song you have ever done.
The penultimate act at Reggae Sumfest 2019 was indeed a Big Deal, not a meal deal. Year in and year out, Christopher Martin has used the Sumfest stage to show his growth as an artiste and a performer, and Saturday night was his best to date.
Totally in his element, Can’t Love Me Now and Cheaters Anthem struck a resounding ovation as Martin refused to extol misogyny in an era of women empowerment.
Leave People Business Alone was followed by Martin imploring the audience to love the country’s women, with the rash of violence prevalent in today’s Jamaica.
The Strong One, Etana, came out in a black and gold dress to a Better Tomorrow. With a vocal presence that was impossible to ignore, Etana entertained with Warrior Love and I Rise, which got the audience to sing along. Years later, Wrong Addressstill has the same effect, which speaks to how relatable her words are in song.
The 27th Reggae Sumfest also saw performances from a conscious and captivating Jah9, whose message had the audience in action mode.
Performances from Kamar Highcon, Montego Bay’s Jovex, Kingston’s Alpha Boy’s Band, Florida’s Tesselated, Avante, and Dre Zee all added to the wholesomeness of the final night of Reggae Sumfest 2019.
Reggae Sumfest Street Dance Loud – Foota Hype ‘Shell It’
Published:Wednesday | July 17, 2019 | 12:11 AMAdrian Frater/News Editor
Selector Sky Juice proudly displays his trademark ‘big belly’ to the crowd.
Veteran selector Oneil ‘Foota Hype’ Thomas ended his protracted hiatus from the local dancehall space in fine style when he combined his selecting skills and his social media bravado, churning out non-stop excitement as he ‘shelled’ Monday night’s Reggae Sumfest’s annual free street dance in Montego Bay.
“People warn me seh me nuh come because the 6ixes wi kill me, but dat couldn’t stop me,” said Foot Hype, as he strolled to centre stage in the jam-packed Old Hospital Park on Jimmy Cliff Boulevard against a backdrop of deafening screams. “Big up the 6ixes, dem a gwaan good … me waan big up de other MoBay artistes dem … unoo a gwaan good to,” Foota stated.
In his usual uncompromising style, Foota Hype quickly raced into top gear, unleashing some of the hottest dancehall hits, which he mixed with his social-media-style rants. He took potshots at some of his former Downsound Record colleagues, especially producer Skatta Burrell, his ex-lover Ishawna, and the outfit’s boss, Reggae Sumfest’s CEO, Joe Bogdanovich.
Before unleashing his lyrical assault on the Downsound crew, Foota Hype jokingly issued the proviso, “I hope nobody don’t tek it too serious.” Amid much laughter from the patrons, he detailed explicitly how he lost his “ex” (Ishawna), first to Skatta, and later to Bogdanovich.
However, Foota Hype said that his Downsound experience has made him bigger, better and richer. “A now me hot. You nuh se seh, although me and Downsound a nuh friend, dem haffi send fe me … a me hot right yah now.”
With the crowd urging him to “talk up the tings, Foota,” the selector remarked, “I would like to ask Joe (Bogdanovich) why him a buy de girl with expensive Benz?”
Much to the delight of the fans, Bogdanovich, who was standing backstage, strolled to centre stage and, after striking a boss-man pose, told the selector, “Foota, you are hype,” as they both burst out laughing.
“A de first time inna six years me talk to anybody from Downsound,” said Foota Hype, as Bogdanovich walked from the stage. “Joe a good man, a big money dem pay me fe de yah tonight.”
SKY JUICE DAZZLED
Prior to Foota Hype’s high-energy stint, the large crowd, easily one of the biggest ever seen at the seaside venue, also got a sparkling display from another veteran selector, the lovable Sky Juice. He dazzled them for one hour without a single expletive or any derogatory utterances.
Sky Juice, who was elegantly clad in red and white, which was reduced to only his red pants during his performance, had the fans in stitches as he made his big-belly dance to several popular hits. In addition to giving love to many of Jamaica’s top dancehall artistes with his classy selections, he also invited Japanese dancer Nami Crissy and her crew to centre stage, where they showed off their dancing skills.
Team Shella and C Note had set a riveting early pace with a string of hit songs, which had the crowd in a dancing frenzy. Visitors to the island, who were out in generous numbers, got a taste of the ‘money pull-up’ phenomenon as fans threw money on stage to have the selector ‘pull up’ their favourite songs.
“I am just loving this … nothing pleases me more than to see the people enjoying themselves,” said Bogdanovich, who was treated like royalty by the patrons, many of whom requested photographs with him.
Reggae Sumfest 2019 featuring performances by Buju Banton, Beres Hammond, Protoje, Romain Virgo, Etana, Dalton Harris, Chris Martin, Tessellated, Jah 9, Avante, Jovexx, Dre Zee, Faice and Hemar Highcon held at Catherine Hall, Montego Bay on Saturday July 20, 2019. SPONSORED BY QUANTUM CONCEPTS
Photographed by Kenyon Hemans and Ashley Anguin
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. July 22, 2019: Dubbed as the ‘world’s greatest reggae show,’ Jamaica’s Reggae Sumfest concluded early Sunday morning in Montego Bay, Jamaica. It was marked by stellar performances by the island’s top reggae and dancehall artists. Here are our Top 10 Performances from Sumfest 2019: