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Susan Boyle misses out on US number one of 2009

Singer Susan Boyle has narrowly missed out on topping the best seller list of 2009 but has spent a sixth week on top of the US album chart. The Scottish star sold 3.1m copies last year, but was beaten by teen artist Taylor Swift, who sold 3.21m records. But Boyle’s I Dreamed A Dream is the biggest-selling album to have been released in 2009 – country singer Swift’s album first came out in 2008. Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga came third and fourth in the year’s rundown.

Vinyl sales

The late singer’s Number Ones album sold 2.3m copies, followed by Lady Gaga’s The Fame with sales of 2.24m. Jackson scored four albums inside the top 20 over the past year, including his classic 1983 record Thriller. Only Boyle and Swift’s albums sold in excess of three million, the first time since 2006 when three records achieved the feat.

The vast majority of Boyle’s albums were sold in physical formats, with just 86,000 digital downloads accounting for its sales figures. The total number of albums sold in the US during 2009 amounted to 373.9 million, according to chart compilers Nielsen Soundscan.. They added that more vinyl records had been purchased than any other year since they began compiling music sales figures in 1991

Who sold the most records in 2009? Michael Jackson, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas and Susan Boyle, Nielsen Soundscan numbers are in! By Dahved Levy

Well, the final numbers have been crunched and the end result is something we pretty much suspected all along: 2009 was a very big year for Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and the late, great King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

On Wednesday (January 6), Nielsen SoundScan released their sales figures for 2009, and while some of the data is downright depressing — total album sales (including digital) dropped more than 12 percent — we prefer to focus on the positive: Swift, Gaga and Jackson (not to mention Susan Boyle, the Black Eyed Peas and the Kings of Leon) moved a whole lot of units over the past 12 months.

Swift’s Fearless was the year’s top-selling album, moving more than 3.2 million copies, holding off a late-year charge from Boyle, whose I Dreamed a Dream sold some 3.1 million copies to land at #2 (though Boyle had the best-selling album released in 2009, since Fearless actually came out in November 2008). Michael Jackson’s Number Ones was #3, selling more than 2.3 million copies, and Lady Gaga’s The Fame (2.23 million) and Andrea Bocelli’s My Christmas (2.2 million) round out the top five.

Jackson was 2009’s top-selling artist by a mile. He sold more than 8.2 million albums, doubling his nearest competitor, Swift, who sold 4.6 million. Some group called the Beatles landed at #3, selling more than 3.2 million albums, followed by Boyle (3.1 million) and Gaga (2.8 million).

Gaga was named the top-selling digital artist of the year — a category based on total digital track sales — as fans downloaded more than 15 million of her songs. The Black Eyed Peas were next, selling nearly 13 million digital tracks. Jackson stood at #3 (12.35 million), Swift came in at #4 (12.3 million) with Beyoncé at #5.

The Peas held the top two spots on the top-selling digital songs list with “Boom Boom Pow” (4.7 million downloads) and “I Gotta Feeling” (4.4 million), followed by Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” (4.3 million), Flo Rida’s “Right Round” (4.1 million) and Gaga’s “Just Dance” (3.2 million). The Nielsen SoundScan numbers were based on the 52-week period of January 5, 2009 — January 3, 2010.  Caribbean fever

Melanie Fiona on top with It Kills Me-Toronto born Melanie Fiona, whose parents are from Guyana, reggae track, Somebody Come Get Me, recently peaked at number 58 the Billboard chart, where it. The song can be found on VP Records’ Reggae Gold 2008 compilation series can be found on her latest CD The Bridge.

Sade back on active chart duty with Soldier of Love-Singer Sade sixth studio album Soldier of Love CD will drop on February 2010. The title track is on the Billboard’s R&B Hip Hop Singles chart and at # 15 on the R&B chart.

Beenie Man featured on rapper Hurricane Chris’ new album-Rapper Hurricane Chris dropped his new CD on December 21. Reggae/dancehall artiste, the Dr Beenie Man featured on He is No Worries. The track which was produced by Don Vito is one of the collaboration on the ten track disc. Hurricane Chris enlisted Superstarr, R&B singer Mario, rapper Plies, Bobby Valentino and girl group Cherish.

Locked out – Jamaican acts finding it more and more difficult to get into some countries

BY Howard Campbell 0 Comments

The lengthening rap sheets of some Jamaican artistes may prevent them from touring countries including the United States and most of Europe. Music industry analyst Clyde McKenzie, who helped fashion the careers of dancehall stars Beenie Man, Tanto Metro and Devonte, told a December 22 Editors’ Forum at The Gleaner’s North Street offices, that recent incidents involving dancehall acts in Europe and North America have hurt the genre’s image. Several Caribbean countries have also slammed their doors on Jamaican acts, including Vybz Kartel, Bounty Killa and Mavado.

Change in emphasis

“The business model for entertainment has changed dramatically and the emphasis is now on touring. That is the most lucrative segment on the value chain. “But more and more doors are closing on our artistes, and that is a significant problem,” McKenzie commented. Dancehall acts have run afoul of the law in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom in the past four years.

Protests by gay-rights groups against Beenie Man, Buju Banton and Sizzla resulted in the cancellation of some of their shows, but this has failed to satisfy the homosexual community, which wants a full ban on the artistes.

Banton’s run-ins with gay groups in the US this summer, and his arrest on cocaine charges in Miami on December 10, have complicated matters. “The doors are being closed as far as immigration is concerned, whether it is the perception about violence or homophobia. You find that some Caribbean territories are refusing to have artistes from Jamaica on their soil,” McKenzie said. With record sales taking a dive due to the growing digital market, touring has become invaluable for Jamaican performers.

Those prospects were dealt a big blow recently in the US, which remains the most lucrative live-show market for many dancehall and traditional reggae acts. In November, the United States citizens and immigration services announced stringent requirements for visa approval. The new policy calls for artistes to present the duration and itinerary in order to be granted an ‘O’ (for solo artiste) or ‘P’ (for group) visa to tour the US. Previously, performers applied for a work visa which, if granted, would cover the artiste for as long as three years. According to Billboard magazine, British rapper ‘Speech Debelle’ did not meet the requirements of the new regime and was refused a visa to perform in the US in November.

Stay clear of controversy

McKenzie is concerned that the Economic Partnership Agreement, signed by the European Union and Caribbean countries in April 2008, may have similar implications if dancehall artistes do not stay clear of controversy. Under the agreement, Cariforum states will have duty-free and quota-free access to all goods exported to the EU market, except for sugar, rice and bananas. It also opens 94 per cent of the EU’s services (including leisure) sector to the Caribbean.

“The Europeans are finding a number of reasons and setting up a number of different structures to prevent our artistes from going there,” McKenzie said. “So the days when a guy (artiste) had some immigration issues but a promoter had money to spend (to get them in the country), those days are gone because they (promoters) now have to be licensed.”    Jam Glean



Sunday, January 10, 2010

LATE last year Charles Campbell, after a trip to Europe, reported in the pages of this newspaper that he was quite worried that while the appeal of Reggae is on the rise, internationally, the appeal overseas for Jamaican acts is on the wane. What could account for this apparent paradox, one might ask? Well, foreigners have so internalized our music that they have now become proficient exponents of it. Matisyahu — an orthodox Jew living in the United States is currently one of the biggest selling Reggae acts.

Gentleman and a number of other European acts are able to draw crowds in their native territories which dwarf what most of our present Jamaican acts could ever imagine at home. I once pointed out that the decline in the status of teachers came with the spread of literacy. I jokingly noted that the success of teachers over the years led to a reduction in their status.

Those who know how teachers were venerated in those days when they would have to read letters for their mostly illiterate neighbors and sign documents for them will understand what I am talking about. Even though teachers were not then making big salaries, they enjoyed good standards of living as they could spend very little of what they earned as the community would provide for them. A similar fate is attending Jamaican Reggae acts. The success of Jamaican music internationally has spawned foreign acts who are now in direct competition with Jamaican entertainers. After all, what sense does it make for overseas promoters to hire Jamaican acts to perform when their own nationals can draw bigger crowds at lower rates? Arguably, the most successful sound system in the world is the Mighty Crown which hails from Japan. The biggest Reggae festivals are held outside our borders and if the trend continues there will be fewer Jamaican acts appearing at these events. What is more, is that many territories are being provided with excuses (some flimsy) for excluding Jamaican performers from their borders.

I pointed out in a recent article that on my regular visits to Trinidad I have been struck by the low visibility of Jamaican products on the supermarket shelves there. This, of course, is in sharp contrast to the preponderance of the Jamaican music culture on the Trinidadian airwaves. Kartel and Mavado seem to be doing something better than many of their compatriots engaged in manufacturing and related activities. Listening to some stations in Trinidad I could never tell that I was not in Jamaica. Ironically, looking on the supermarket shelves, one could also think that he is in Jamaica since so many of the products we consume in Jamaica find their way to us from Trinidad.

Clearly, Jamaican companies and corporations have not yet determined how to use our strong cultural presence for market penetration. Yet the problem with a number of our top Jamaican acts is that the door is closing on them in a number of Caribbean territories. A number of Caribbean nations have strong views about the antisocial behaviour which they deem to be associated with our music. Caricom countries don’t have visa requirements but they can stop people at the border. Already Jamaicans cannot enter territories such as the Cayman Islands without a visa. Jamaicans are now required to get a visa to enter Britain.

Of course, these developments cannot be blamed primarily on our artistes and our music. Much of this is attributable to the perception of our being a violent people, which is sometimes amplified and justified by our music. People like to stereotype; it is a fundamental feature of human nature.

It had great survival value at the dawn of civilization as it allowed us to make quick decisions (which might later prove wrong) but which would keep us away from danger. After all, a man confronted by a lion or a poisonous snake does not have the luxury of rumination. He has to act quickly or become dinner. However, in the highly nuanced environment in which we now find ourselves this trait can not only be contentious, it can be dangerous. How often do we hear about the indiscretions of an artiste being described as a poor reflection of the industry? I often argue that this is unfair, but I know the reality. The actions of a few are used to judge the behaviors of many, and this is unfortunate.

The sad fact is no one points to the performances and outputs, of artistes such as Tarrus Riley, Chino, Queen Ifrica and the numerous other acts making a positive contribution, as an indication of the current state of the music. Few will note that Mavado and Kartel have a body of positive works — we tend only to look at the negative side of their output.

Yet if there is any doubt about the power of entertainment and its capacity to galvanise people locally we need to look no further than the “I Dare You” concert put on by Shaggy and Friends. Last year the event raised $27 million for the Bustamante Hospital for Children which went towards purchasing much-needed equipment for the institution. By all indications, the figure earned this year will be higher than last year’s. At the rate at which Shaggy is going, in a few years time the hospital could well be the best-equipped medical facility in the region. This is something to salute and, although it is an endeavour for which Shaggy is largely responsible, it shows the positive power of our music.

Gay German MP campaigns against Jamaican music

Charles HE Campbell

I am glad my wise colleague Clyde McKenzie has publicly joined the discussion on declining appeal for Jamaican acts overseas. Only this week, we learnt of a panel discussion organized by Kesselhaus (a location where Sizzla’s performance was cancelled on November 26, 2009) to be held and broadcast on February 23, 2010 in Berlin, Germany with representatives from politics, gay lesbian associations, artiste managers, representatives from the Jamaican artiste fraternity (to be announced) and German promoters.

The topic of the discussion is ‘Sustainable Measures Against Homophobia in Art’, with the aim of developing lasting strategies for the handling of controversial artistes, between prohibition (or ban) and dialogue.

All this has not been put in the context of the continuation of a dialogue addressing a great need for new, concrete steps to ensure that artistes, who perform lyrics that are deemed in Germany to be homophobic, or that glory violence, are not allowed into the country, nor can the media promote their images, music or CDs. Some very influential people, led by Volker Beck MP, leader of the Alliance 90/Green Party in the German parliament, are attempting to step up the campaign by broadening this ban to include all Jamaican artistes by defining it all as Dancehall.

This is against the background of the Alliance 90/Green parliamentarians concluding that the Reggae Compassionate Act, signed in 2007 by several Reggae and Dancehall artistes, pledging not to make statements or perform songs that incite hatred or violence against anyone from any community, including homosexuals, has not worked.

On June 20, 2008, the Bundestag Printed Paper published a reply from the German Federal Government to the minor interpellation tabled by the members of the German Bundestag — Volker Beck (Cologne) and others in the Alliance 90/Green’s parliamentary group. It included the following false statements which amount to a smear campaign against Jamaica and all its musical forms.

“Gay people are in a critical situation in Jamaica”, “prison sentences of up to 15 years are imposed simply for holding hands”. The document implies that Brian Williamson (JFLAG) and Lenford Harvey were victims of homophobic violence and that there has been a steady increase in frequency of such murders over recent years. It states further that “homophobic lyrics feature in the repertoires of many of Jamaica’s Reggae and Dancehall stars, but clergymen, trade unions and the Jamaican Government, also stir up gay hate”. The reply goes on to state, “conditions in Jamaica have shown us the extent of the anti-gay violence that can be agitated by the hysterical and homophobic rantings of these crazy artistes. The messages coming from the stage work people up into a frenzy and provoke them to go and beat up and kill gays. As a result, it is a regular occurrence in Kingston, and elsewhere in the Caribbean, for men who are gay or perceived to be gay, to be hounded through the streets and subjected to savage attacks which often end in death”.

These are serious accusations which badly tarnish the image of Jamaica. We are being promoted as a nation of lynchers and killers. I have been reliably informed that there is an ad currently running on German radio urging people not to go to Jamaica, they slit your throat there. The question I wish to ask is, whether our diplomatic service is aware of these accusations and the campaign against our artistes and musicians. If so, then why have we not yet formally responded to set the

Record straight?

To quote from Clyde McKenzie, “how often do we hear about the indiscretions of an artiste being described as a poor reflection of the industry? I often argue that this is unfair, but I know the reality. The actions of a few are used to judge the behaviour of many and this is unfortunate”.

The King and the Crown Prince

BOB Marley and Dennis Brown, the King and Crown Prince of Reggae music shared birthdays in February. Brown’s is February 1st, and Marley’s is February 6th. Both are from the tribe of Joseph in their religion The 12 Tribes of Israel’

Bob Marley, in a famous interview in the 70s declared: “Dennis Brown is I ‘n’ I favorite singer!”

The extensive and astounding musical legacy of these two needs no recounting.

On Friday, February 5, 2010, at the beginning of Reggae Month, the Jamaica Association of Vintage Artistes & Affiliates (JAVAA) kicks off what is expected to be another year of entertainment events in The Gardens, Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, with its annual tribute to “Bob Marley & Dennis Brown, the King & Crown Prince of Reggae”.

A star-studded cast is being assembled, to include Leroy Sibblies, George Nooks, Tanya Stephens, Sugar Minott, Johnny Clarke, Carlene Davis, Jimmy Riley, Bunny Brown, Bagadito, Dwight Pinkney, Althea Hewitt, Tinga Stewart, Winsome Benjamin, Abijah, Lloyd Parkes, Bongo Herman, Roy Rayon, Angel, Michael Rutherford, Ras Manasseh and Michael Pinnock.

At midnight on the night of the show, there will be a special observance of Bob Marley’s birthday, as well as a prize draw of a fabulous weekend for two at Travellers Beach Resort.

Backing bands will be the incomparable Fab Five and Unique Vision. Tommy Cowan, Heather “Brown Sugar” Grant and GT Taylor will be the emcees, while, at intermission, the audience will be treated to the wiles of comedian Tubeless!

This year’s show has the ingredients for a truly “jamming” experience, marked by many “inseparable” moments.

Sade tops MySpace chart

SINGER Sade, the former Ocho Rios resident, has topped the online jazz charts with her single Soldier of Love, one day after its release.

The song topped MySpace’s jazz charts with over 55,000 plays a day after its January 12 release. The video is the title single of her upcoming album to be released on February 8.

Up to noon on Saturday, the growth in plays slowed and totaled 68,580. MySpace is a popular social networking site, and although the plays don’t number in the millions, the chart comparatively shows that interest in the Nigerian-born songstress remains.

Soldier of Love (Epic Records) will be her first studio album since 2000’s Lovers Rock but she also released a live album in 2002. All seven of Sade’s albums have peaked in the Top 10 on the Billboard Top 200. Since the release of her debut album, Diamond Life in 1984 her worldwide sales have surpassed 50 million albums. Soldier of Love was recorded in England and produced by her band and long-time collaborator Mike Pela.

The album has ten tracks including: The Moon And The Sky, Soldier Of Love, Morning Bird, Baby Father, Long Hard Road, Be That Easy, Bring Me Home, In Another Time, Skin, and The Safest Place.

In the 90s, Sade lived in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, where she lived with a Jamaican producer but fled the island after she failed to appear in court to face charges on dangerous driving.

Jamaica Music Museum – a sample of what can be

Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer


Herbie Miller stands near the middle of Jamaica’s musical chronology in words, images and artifacts along the side of a partition at the Institute of Jamaica, downtown Kingston, and said “I like to call this our 22 yards of Jamaican music history.”

That distance is, of course, the length of a cricket pitch, and the sport has its own rhythm. But the director of the Jamaica Music Museum is referring to another kind of rhythm, the music that is woven into the tapestry of Jamaican life.

The mini-exhibition went up on International Reggae Day, July 1, 2009, with the stated understanding that it is an indication of what can be – and maybe an implicit acknowledgment that what is mounted is not visually overwhelming. Under the headline “The Music of Jamaica: People, Voice, Song” the exhibition statement reads, in part, “the primary purpose of the mini-exhibition is to illustrate that – with adequate space, staff, budgetary support and minimal bureaucracy – the Jamaica Music Museum will fulfill its mandate to gather, disseminate, educate and entertain visitors from home and abroad.”

Technological changes

And Miller makes it clear that each section of the chronology, which tracked technological changes in instrument construction and music production, even as it showed changes in Jamaican music genres, could have its own gallery in a museum.

“It is about social history, technology and specifically about music history,” Miller said.

So the words and images are posted on the partition, with instruments below. Those instruments are a strong measure of the technological development, starting with a drum made from a hollowed tree stump at one end and a drum machine (donated by Sly Dunbar) at the other. Midway a walk through the exhibition, Miller chuckles as he noted the change in dressing, from not much clothing in the beginning to formal English dress for the jazz players and rock steady singers.

The journey began with the Tainos and under “One People. One Voice, One Song” is written “from earliest ties until today, music has been a source of inspiration that has allowed Jamaicans to endure, resist and dream. Music represents events from procreation to burial.”

Miller takes a hands-on approach to the instruments on display, taking up the drum. “This was high technology of the time. You fall a tree, hollow it out, kill an animal and use all the parts, decorate the drum with images about what it is to be used for,” he said. After he takes up a kalimba and uses his thumbs to play a few notes, he points to the active use he wishes to be made of the items on display.

Miller said they shouldn’t be “just relics sitting there dead and motionless”. He wants people to do “as I just did. To bring in the best qualified musicians to play on instruments, ancient and of modern times, for people to have a fuller understanding of how music was created.”

Throughout the walk-through, Miller reminded The Sunday Gleaner of the technological changes – another is using a cow horn to make a wind instrument, then the introduction of brass instruments and then, finally, the replication of the sound with a synthesizer.

Different ethnicities

There are different streams of ethnicities, as well, who came with their music, including the Jews and the English. Miller reminded that each time Columbus would sight land they would sing praise songs. At the same time, he says with a smile, the Tainos were singing praises to their Zemis.

For Plantation Life, where there is a gumbe and an abeng, Miller said that like other groups “the Africans brought their ways of performing music and reasons for performing music … You apply the African sensibility to the European technique and get a particular syncopation”. And music like jazz is created.

The mini-exhibition covers revival and kumina, and then goes into mento and jazz, a rhumba box and a banjo among the instruments. Miller pointed out Sugar Belly’s original bamboo saxophone and how similar it is in appearance to the African aighaita. Wilton ‘Bogey’ Gaynair figures prominently in the jazz section, his picture on the partition, copies of his CD in the display case and also the mouthpiece for his saxophone, donated by saxophonist Tony Greene.

There are also pictures of Bertie King, Johnny Moore and Sonny Bradshaw.

Especially striking is a saxophone beside drums decorated with red, green and gold, which illustrates the fusion of the wind instrumentalists and the Rastafarian drummer, which centered around Count Ossie and is, Miller said, “the tradition on which ska emerged”.

Prince Buster and Derrick Morgan are in the ska section, Don Drummond’s picture above the lover he killed, dancer Margarita. Vere Johns, who ran the “Opportunity Hour” which turned out many talents, has his place. Then there is rock steady, with Ken Boothe, Alton Ellis and Phyllis Dillon, among others. For the DJ it is written that the microphone was their instrument, Count Matchoukie, King Stitt and Big Youth among the creators and pioneers. Then there is reggae, with Dennis Brown, Marcia Griffiths, Third World, Burning Spear, Bob Marley and Culture. “It all came together in one pool,” Miller said, that pool encompassing lovers rock, the commercial side and roots reggae.

Dancehall section

Finally, there is dancehall, where Yellowman, Buju Banton, Shabba Ranks, Mavado, Sean Paul, Capleton. Lady Saw and Vybz Kartel have their place. The walk-through ends where the visitor can listen to a selection of music from the various forms of Jamaican music.

The process of collection is continuing, but when there will be a museum space of the capacity required to do the Jamaican music full justice is anyone’s guess.

“The whole aim, especially in this hard time, is to keep it going as we look for somewhere to house it, to get grants and funding

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