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Tarrus Riley stands tall on Reggae Sumfest’s closing night

After Friday night’s performances at Reggae Sumfest, it was clear that the international elements of the night, namely R&B crooner, NeYo, had taken the lead. However, Saturday night’s Reggae acts Tarrus Riley, Etana and Damian ‘Junior Gong’ Marley put in the work and reaped the rewards, and at the end of the night it was Riley who stood tall atop the performance podium.

It was 10 minutes to midnight when the Dean Fraser aggregation struck up a dramatic overture to herald Riley’s entrance, and once he appeared on stage dressed in full white, it was clear that he was in a ‘no-hitching’ mood.

Riley delivered hit after hit and had particularly his female fans in his palms hanging on to every word and note he uttered. The set, which lasted for 50 minutes, was carefully constructed weaving works from Riley’s debut album, Parables, cover versions of some of his favoured tracks and introductions to the new material from his new album, Contagious, which incidentally was launched in Montego Bay the day before. The song list included Lion Paw, Contagious – the title track from the album, which is a good listen, Beware, and the anthems of female empowerment, Start Anew (Cut it Off) and She’s Royal which had Catherine Hall rocking. He closed his magnificent set with his current hit, Good Girl Gone Bad, amidst huge bursts of metallic confetti.

Riley is steadily growing as a performer and his natural ability to connect with his audience makes his job even easier. His little onstage dramatic head-to-head with sax man Dean Fraser always seems fresh, natural and unrehearsed even after seeing it ‘performed’ on numerous occasions.

Riley was preceded by The Strong One, Etana, who was, like Riley, dressed in full white, and seemed to have that ‘nah hitch, come fi work’ attitude about her performance. She burst into the venue with her hit song Roots, and ended 30 minutes later with the dramatic Caltabrita System, complete with dancers and drummers. Etana again displayed a maturity and sensibility onstage that every artiste yearns for, but that which some never attain.

There were patrons who questioned the inclusion of Junior Gong in the line-up considering the fact that he does not have a current hit. However, once his set commenced at 4:40 Sunday morning, it was clear that the hits from his previous release could more than justify his place on International Night 2. With his locks flowing down to his calves, the young Marley held the gaze and interest of the audience, many of whom had been inside the packed venue from early the previous evening.

The night was dubbed international night and so the overseas acts who came and performed, unlike the previous night, never seemed to make that connection. First up was the much-touted six-time Grammy Award-winning songstress, Toni Braxton, opening her set in dramatic fashion, wearing a silver, beaded burlesque costume, complete with fishnet stockings to her popular hit, You’re Making Me High. The pint-sized singer must have had word of Ne-Yo’s success when he injected local flava into his performance, so she drew for the King of the Dancehall Beenie Man, which earned wild screams.

However, the performance was much too short to have had any lasting impact, while a cameo with Etana also fell flat. The possibility of a great performance from Braxton was derailed by a technical gaff as persons in some sections of the venue were unable to hear. One patron shouted, “Toni, we love you, but we want to hear you.” After what seemed like a very long ‘what-do-we-do-now-moment’, the situation was resolved, but by then, the possibility of having a performance that would have been spoken about for days never materialized.

Nevertheless she gave a decent account of herself with How Many Ways, Another Sad Love Song, You Mean the World to Me, Breathe Again, closing with her runaway hit, Un-Break My Heart for which she changed into a flowing white gown reminiscent of what she wore in the song’s music video.

The international bar was lifted at 5:10 on Sunday morning when rapper Nas was introduced. He instantly made a connection and rode the vibe created by Junior Gong in whose set he was injected. The still thick crowd inside Catherine Hall sang along; with Hate Me Now, Shorty Whats Your Price, If I Ruled the World and other hits. The young Marley then returned for their collaboration, Road to Zion. Earlier in the morning, Michael Jackson’s brother, Tito, was on hand to receive tokens from Jamaicans and Sumfest organisers after Jackson and his band gave a performance of the Jackson 5 classics as well as music which featured Tito on guitars.

The other female act on the show, Toni Braxton, almost had her performance derail by sound challenges, but the professional of no mean order would not let up. Dressed as a seducer ready to capture her audience, she caressed those who could hear with her sultry, sexy voice and amazing body. Rhinestones dripping from her body hugging suit, black leotards and fish-net stockings complemented by matching heels, Braxton was not allowed to confirm whether or not an ‘Angel Broke her Heart’ as the Jamaican audience would have none of that.

When the six-time Grammy-Award winning artiste pulled for Seven Whole Days, she barely had to open her mouth to captivate the crowd. An encore brought her back to the hit Unbreak My Heart. Earlier top-notch performances were delivered by the Germany-based reggae group Rhaatid which gave a different feel of what the international community is experiencing from this rich and vibrant music that calls Jamaica home.

Hard Drive, Sophia Squire, Montego Bay’s Mackie Conscious, Digicel Rising Star, Romain Virgo, Da’Ville and the Inner Circle band completed the roster of artistes on International Night II. JamaicaGleaneronline &Jamaicaobserver.com

Dancehall Coming of Age – Reggae Sumfest

For the first time in a long time, I felt I was at a world-class festival.

By Dennis Howard

Dancehall Night at Reggae Sumfest was special in many ways; firstly it shows the strength of the young people in Jamaica who are still hungry for the popular sound. Secondly, there was hardly any hype about impending clashes or confrontations amongst the deejays and sing-jays who were billed for the event. Nor was there any expectation of any fire burning and gay bashing from any of the usual suspects. Yet despite the usual marketing gimmicks, the turnout was phenomenal. What was significant for me was the effort from the likes of Bounty Killer, Vybz Kartel, Movado, Kip Rich, Spice and others to create a show for presentation.

Bounty Killer Movado and Vybz Kartel in particular went out of their way to present an act, something that has been lacking in their presentation in the past. The fact that it worked to varying degree for the above-mentioned performers is insignificant. The real story is that dancehall artists are becoming real professionals on stage. It is really heartening to see the effort being made to entertain instead of looking for quick forwards and creating spurts of excitement, as we are used to in dancehall. There was no importation of whole communities armed with fireworks and the dangerous aerosol torches to manufacture crowd response. It seems the recession has caught up with our entertainers. For the first time in a long time, I felt I was at a world-class festival.

Congratulations to all the performers on Dancehall Night, they kept it reasonably clean did not resort to cheap tricks and delivered some great performances, some weak, some boring but all with a professional approach. This is a turning point in popular entertainment that must be recognized and encouraged. The fact that there were so many contenders for the top performer of the night is an indication of the significance of the change in approach by the artists.

Rihanna and Chris Spend Weekend in Same Hotel

Trump International Hotel & Tower won’t comment on pair skirting a court order to stay separate.

A week before Chris Brown is scheduled to be sentenced for beating Rihanna last February, there’s evidence that the two are unwisely disobeying court orders to stay separate from each other…in fact, they spent this weekend in shockingly close proximity.

Despite a judge’s orders for Chris to stay 50 yards away from Rihanna (10 yards at music industry events where other people are present), he was spotted Friday night checking into the Trump International Hotel & Tower on New York’s Central Park West – the same hotel where Rihanna reportedly already was staying. Lime life claims they spent the weekend stealthy coming and going from the hotel’s underground garage in decoy vehicles that drove multiple times around the hotel to ward off fans and paparazzi. While they were never caught on film in direct contact with each other, sources say neither one had an event in New York for which they needed to be present; plus, witnesses are wondering why they couldn’t have checked in to two different hotels. A Trump International Hotel & Tower spokesperson has declined to comment whether Rihanna and Chris were staying on the same floor. Source: yourtango

Radio stations, CVM sanctioned for on-air breaches

The Broadcasting Commission has sanctioned radio stations Irie, Zip, RJR, Roots and NewsTalk, and CVM television for on-air breaches, most of which involved expletives, based on the regulator’s annual report obtained by Splash.

The commission, which regulates radio, television and cable operations, received 21 breaches in the fiscal year ending March, which was a 51 per cent decline over the previous fiscal year. Interestingly, only three breaches directly relate to the daggering directives issued this February, aimed at curbing sexually explicit and violent songs. Twelve of the 21 breaches were for serious violations such as expletives which contravened the Children’s Code of Programming. The remedial action involved most media houses issuing on-air apologies and disciplining their disc-jockeys or presenters including: . CVM TV which aired on 23 March 2009 extracts of ‘daggering’ songs and Ramping Shop, and the commission instructed CVM to “reformat the programme to ensure suitability of content for the time of day it is scheduled to be transmitted”;. NewsTalk 93 FM which aired on 9 January 2009, “contemptuous coarse and insulting words by a programme host,” according to the commission;  . NewsTalk 93 FM which aired on 17 October 2008, “discussions (which) included content on whether the vagina was cleaner than the mouth and another conversation with a caller about penis size”; The fiscal year saw 128 complaints against broadcast and cable licensees, complaints do not necessarily result in a breach. “The total number of complaints investigated was a 36 per cent decrease over the number for the previous period,” said the commission.

Of the 128 complaints broadcast licensees received 67 with TVJ receiving the most at 13, Zip received the second highest at 11, then Fame at 10. Radio 92 and CVM were tied with seven.

Cable licensees received 61 complaints with Columbus Communications (Flow) receiving the highest at 26, mostly related to “poor audio-visual signal” and “poor customer service”; next was General Satelittle Network Company at four and all were for “poor audio signal”; Guthrie’s Communications, Jamaica Cablevision, Linscom Network, Logic One and Stars Cable were tied with three complaints, most for a “poor audio-visual signal”.

Radio personality Nikki Z left Zip 103 FM after being twice suspended in September and December for the broadcast of an expletive in her set-list, according to media reports.

Last January, the Broadcasting Commission had recommended that government suspend NewsTalk 93 FM licence. They reviewed excerpts of the programme Ragashanti Live, broadcast on January 2 and determined that host Dr Kingsley Stewart’s comments contravened the Broadcasting and Radio Re-Diffusion Act, the Television and Sound Regulations and the Children’s Code. The minister of culture, youth and sports Olivia Grange, (then minister of information) had decided not to suspend the broadcast licence of the radio station, based on commitments given by the station to carry out specified remedial actions. Stewart was sanctioned by the station.

The Broadcasting Commission in February issued an on-air ban of “explicitly sexual and violent” songs. These recordings, it said, violated the Television and Sound Broadcasting Regulations and the Children’s Code for Programming. It stated that licensees must not play music or videos that are even suggestive of ‘daggering’. The commission in its statement defined daggering as “a colloquial term used in dancehall culture as a reference to hardcore sex or what is popularly referred to as dry sex, or the activities of persons engaged in the public simulation of various sexual acts and positions”.

Under the commission’s February ‘daggering’ directive, music with lyrics that need to be bleeped-out or edited are not deemed fit for airplay. Media houses can have their licences suspended if they broadcast three songs in violation of the directive, RJR head Gary Allen told the Observer last month. “We would really like there to be a dialogue with the regulator,” he added.

The ban triggered fierce debate, earlier this year, with opponents accusing the regulator of bias against dancehall. The commission denied the accusation and eventually included soca music, a move that resulted in local TV stations abandoning their plans to provide live telecasts of the annual carnival parade through the streets of Kingston.

Reggae at the Ritz celebrates Independence, honours Beres

The second Reggae at the Ritz concert takes place at the New Jersey’s landmark Ritz Theatre. The annual event which pays homage to the drum and bass sounds of the islands paid tribute to Jamaica’s musical legacy by honoring two of with of the island’s international Reggae icons, Culture and Beres Hammond as it celebrated Jamaica’s 47th year of Independence celebrated on August 6.

This year’s staging also welcomes Roots Reggae singer/songwriters, Tarrus Riley, whose critically acclaimed album Parables in 2006 featured the smash hit She’s Royal, and Duane Stephenson, best known for his debut album August Town and writing the reggae anthem True Reflections for Reggae artist Jah Cure.

Reggae, a fusion hybrid traditional African and Caribbean music infused with strands of American R& B and Soul, developed in Jamaica in1970’s after Ska and Rock Steady, the music Independence in 1962.  In the early 1970s the bass-driven Reggae sound gained international attention through the music of early pioneers like producers Bunny Lee and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, singers like Toots and the Maytals, Bob Marley and the Wailers, and Jimmy Cliff.

American singer Johnny Nash 1968 hit Hold Me Tight, first placed Reggae on the American charts followed Jamaican Dave and Ansel Collins’ Double Barrel instrumental entered Billboard R&B charts and the hit Liquidator. The Beatles (UK) Reggae-tinged experiment Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da, Paul Simon Mother and Child Reunion, Jimmy Cliff’s Vietnam, ‘Marcia Griffith and Bob Andy’s Young Gifted and Black, (British Charts) and Desmond Decker’s, (American & British mega hit) ‘Poor Me Israelite’ brought worldwide attention to new sound. Eric Clapton’s 1974 #1 worldwide cover of Bob Marley’s I Shot the Sheriff solidified Reggae march into the mainstream pop-culture music.

Bob Marley and the Wailers international breakthrough with No Woman No Cry, from Rastaman Vibration, their 1976 album (4 weeks Top Ten charts in the US). In 1977 Culture’s seminal album Two Sevens Clash, dropped which, today, is hailed by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the “50 Coolest Records” ever made. Adapted Jamaica Observeronline

Tarrus Riley & Konshens Good Girl Gone Bad month at No.1

While Konshens is on tour in Europe with his older brother Delus his collaboration with Tarrus Riley Good Girl Gone Bad continues to maintain the deejay presence in Jamaica as the single raked up a fourth week at #1 on the Outaroad Weekly Top Ten Reggae Singles. In the meantime, Voicemail ft. Busy Signal still holding strong in the #2 position, while Delus’ True Love jumped one spot up the chart to claim its spot at #4.Another single to keep a close eye on his G Whizz’s fast rising hit single Life (Soon Sort Out) that is steadily making its way up the chart. OutARoad.com

Winehouse acquitted of assault

LONDON (AP): A judge acquitted Amy Winehouse yesterday of assaulting a fan who asked to take her picture. District Judge Timothy Workman found the 25-year-old singer not guilty of punching dancer Sherene Flash in the eye after the fan asked to take her picture following a charity ball in September.

Prosecutors claimed it was a deliberate assault. But Winehouse said she had felt intimidated by the drunken Flash and claimed she was too short to have hit the dancer in the face. The judge said that after hearing the evidence, he could not be sure the blow had been deliberate. “The charge is dismissed and the defendant discharged,” he said.

Winehouse, dressed in a knee-length black skirt, gray jacket and white shirt, shrugged as the verdict was announced. She remained in the dock until her lawyer spoke to her, apparently clarifying the verdict. “I’m relieved. I’m going home,” she said as she left court through a jostling pack of photographers and television cameras. In a statement read by a spokesman, the singer said she was “very happy to move on with her life and put the episode behind her”.

Toronto is set to ‘feel de vibe’ of Caribana

This year is the year that will set the pace for Scotia bank Caribana 2009, both in the event line-up and sponsorship for years to come. “We have been able to put on this year the most comprehensive programme in the history of Caribana. We have more things, more events, more credibility, and a lot more things going on than ever before, this year.” EXTRA N.A

Brooklyn salutes 40th anniversary of Woodstock

Seaside summer concert open

Last Thursday, the 31st annual Seaside Summer Concert Series at Asser Levy/Seaside Park, hosted by Brooklyn Borough president Marty Markowitz, and featured Brooklyn’s salute to the 40th anniversary of Woodstock with classic performances by Creedence Clearwater Revisited, Mountain and John Sebastian. It marked the opening of the popular, three-decade old Seaside Summer concert series.

“From Seaside’s superstar lineup of Daryl Hall & John Oates up Close & Personal Tour, Donna Summer, Blondie and Pat Benatar to MLK’s Keyshia Cole, Robin Thicke, Teena Marie, the O’Jays, Anita Baker and Sean Paul, stars who perform the world over are thrilled to take the stage in Brooklyn, USA,” Markowitz said.

The Seaside Summer Concert Series is held Thursday nights at 7:30 pm at Asser Levy/Seaside Park at West 5th Street and Surf Avenue opposite the New York Aquarium. Seating is limited so attendees are encouraged to bring their own chairs. A limited number of $5 rental chairs in a specially designated area are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Performers are subject to change without notice. Call the concert EXTRA N.A

Harbourfront to feature Island Soul weekend concert

Harbourfront Centre becomes a vibrant haven of Island Soul over the July 31 to August 3rd long weekend. A killer Calypso double-bill features world renowned artiste and former Calypso Monarch winner, The Mighty Shadow opening the festival Friday evening with the heat and flavour of the islands. Opening for Shadow is fellow legendary Calypsonians and alto-sax player Roy Cape and the Kaiso All Stars.

With a reggae career spanning over two decades and 10 albums, Tony Rebel commands the stage on Sunday. Rebel is also well-known for running the Rebel Salute festival in Jamaica. Hardcore Band featuring Anthony Davis aka global centric-poet Peculiar I and his friends open the concert. Jamaican-Canadian (and once Toronto resident) Leroy Sibbles, takes to the stage. Trombone-led Ska group The Arsenals begin the evening.

Dominica’s oldest and most accomplished band, Swinging Stars are in the weekend line-up celebrating their 50th anniversary. Other musical offerings over the weekend include the dulcet tones of the Pan Fantasy Steel band and the Silhouettes Steel Orchestra. Carib-Latin Jazzers Kalabash performs. DJ’s from SuperheavyREGGAE warm up an evening and CIUT’s dj Patrick Roots and CHRY’s DJ Natty B go head to head in a track-by-track showdown.

On Saturday, August 1, celebrate independence with the first officially recognized (by the province of Ontario) Emancipation Day with an Emancipation Jubilation event hosted by B. George Blake. He is assisted by the Kalalu Folklore Theatre and many special guests (in partnership with the Ontario Black History Society.) The island of St. Lucia also gets a freedom spotlight when they celebrate the 30th anniversary of their independence. Former MTV Live host and comedian Gilson Lubin hosts the musical celebration event.

Dance fans will enjoy the colourful Tche Kreyol dancers from Martinique and Aya Dance Collective performs their work, ‘Origins,’ merging African and Caribbean cultures. Formed to mark the Quao victory over the British in Jamaica, The Charles Town Maroons drum and dance their stories. Rated X for Xcitement entertains crowds in the round and the Caliente Drum and Danz light up the evening with an interactive glow stick dance performance. Those inspired to dance can join in with the Caribbean Dance Lesson with Anthony ‘Prime’ Guerra.

The Jerk Jamboree Competition promises to be an intense competition where chefs from restaurants all over Toronto compete for the Best Jerk in Toronto. The winner will be on hand on August 2 at Harbourfront Centre. EXTRA N.A

Sean Paul’s Imperial Blaze Will Still Be ‘Meaningful’

While the dancehall star’s new album has dance jams, it will still deal with some serious

It’s hard to expect a dark album from a guy who made a song called Gimme the Light. But last time Sean Paul spoke with MTV News in 2007, the dancehall star said his next project would deal with some serious topics, particularly the violence in his native Jamaica.

Well, his new album will still be “meaningful,” he said, but SP has been able to relax a bit more as he finished up Imperial Blaze.

The lead single So Fine has been buzzing on radio, and just last week Sean Paul was in Brooklyn, New York, filming a video for the next single, Press It Up.

He explained the latter track is “rent-a-tile” music.

“‘Rent-a-tile’ means when you go to a dance hall, some people take the middle of the dance floor and do their thing,” he explained to us on the clip’s set. “This is still dancing, but it’s more like you take your one tile in the ground [on the dance floor] and you and your lady are in that space. It’s kind of sensual. It’s dirty dancing without having to move the feet too much — it’s all in the waist. This is how me, as a Caribbean person, grew up. It’s how you get to know a lady up close.”

The clip was directed by long-time Sean Paul choreographer Tanisha Scott, who is helming her first video. Although So Fine and Press On are the summertime burners SP fans are accustomed to, with Imperial Blaze, due August 18, the international star is progressing from his past work. In addition to the heavier fare, Sean Paul has turned to production — he manned the boards for a track on his new album.

“I don’t want to do something unproductive with my time, so I decided to do something musical. So it felt good to say, ‘Yeah, I’m producing.’ It gave me a fresh vibe — inspiring in a different way.” Source: MTV.com

Youssou NDour, Senegalese superstar records first reggae album at Tuff Gong

Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour was named the African Artiste of the Century by the English publication, Roots, in 2000; he recorded his first reggae album in Jamaica at the famed Tuff Gong Recording Studio. The legendary West African musician could not escape the influence of Bob Marley; N’Dour admitted to feeling emotional because the project produced by former Wailers’ member now based in France,

“The world knows Tyrone Downie, he is the greatest keyboard player and arranger,” said N’Dour. “He is great, he is talented. He knows the sound, he knows Africa, he knows Jamaica, he knows the world, and he is the right person,” said N’Dour who promised that the album will be released here as he is looking forward to performing in Jamaica in the not too distant future.

Tyrone Downie, spoke highly of N’Dour his praise of N’Dour. “Since working with Bob [Marley], it’s the first time I’m working with an artiste on that international level,” said Downie, who has worked with a lot of international acts from France including Alpha Blondie. “He is a good songwriter, a good singer; he is one of the biggest artistes in Africa. Like Bob was big in the west, this man is big in the east. And for me it’s a pleasure.”
Senegalese’s ambassador, Dr Nafissatou Diagne, who is a fan of the reggae noted “As the ambassador of Senegal, I welcome one of our major artistes to Jamaica,” said Dr Diagne as she watched proceedings inside the studio. “This is something very important to me. He came here in order to remember Bob Marley as one of the greatest artistes in Jamaica who has pushed reggae worldwide, just as how Youssou N’ Dour is promoting the Senegalese music worldwide. From one legend to the other. I think it’s really important that Jamaica, as part of the Diaspora to be linked with Africa, is something very special and historic.”

The set, to be titled Remember, is about the “reggae-isation” of some of N’Dour’s previous recordings and will feature a track about Bob Marley with N’Dour in combination with dub poet Mutabaruka.

“This is my first time here in Jamaica in Kingston at Tuff Gong to record an album. It’s my first reggae album. It’s the first time I’m doing reggae music,” N’Dour explained to the Sunday Observer. “I am a big fan of reggae music,” added the performer, songwriter, composer, bandleader and producer. “I grew up with Bob Marley and his generation and I still don’t know why I didn’t do reggae when I began in music. But now something’s going to happen in Senegal called Fesman, it’s a big festival about the Diaspora and we think it’s a good occasion to celebrate Bob Marley and all this reggae music.”

Fesman, also billed as the Third Edition of the World Black Arts Festival (as well as Fesman 2009 or Fesman No 3), will be held in Dacca and other places in Senegal from December 1 to 14, featuring an international cast of musicians, poets, dancers, and movie personalities.

N’Dour said that Remember will be released before the festival. “Behind this reggae music I bring back my old songs, they are already well-known (especially in Africa) and doing them the reggae way is going to be really something exciting and new,” said N’Dour, who has made his mbalax brand of music famous throughout the world during nearly 30 years of recording and touring with his band, the Super Etoile.

“Two months before the festival, at every level in Senegal/Africa, people are going to listen to it, and when this festival happens we are going to do the concert,” added the famous Muslim entertainer. “It’s going to be really symbolic. That’s the plan. What I think is, this album and this style make me think about all my songs having a new life… it’s going to open a new life for all my old songs.” Jamaica Observeronline

Michael Jackson’s previously released albums sold more than 1.1 million copies within a week. Barbadian Grammy Award-winning superstar Rihanna new album will feature big stars in the business such as Kanye West, Jay Z, Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams and Soulja Boy. Sean Paul climb back in single chart after So Fine had fallen off the Billboard R&B/Hip Hop Singles chart a few weeks ago, but this week it re-enters at # 92, after peaking at number 90. Over on the Hot 100 singles chart, it fares better, moving from # 62 to 59.

Whitney Houston previews her new CD

Whitney Houston gears up for her comeback record.

“She was with me every step of the way: ‘Mom, you can do this.’ When I get discouraged and I get like, This is tiring, this is wearing me out, I’m just not at that point,’ she’d just go, ‘No, mom, you can do this, get up, get up,'” Houston said of 15-year-old Bobbi Kristina in an interview on Tuesday. “She encourages me and inspires me, when I look at her and I look at her eyes and I see myself, I go, OK, I can do this. I can do this.”

The 44-year-old superstar is releasing I Look to You on September 1. It’s her first album in years on Arista Records. She premiered several tracks before an industry audience that included her only child, mother Cissy Houston, Cousin Dionne Warwick, Alicia Keys and Diane Sawyer.

Houston is one of the world’s best-selling artistes of all time, but her career stalled for years and her pop princess image imploded as she battled drugs and endured a troubled (and now defunct) marriage to Bobby Brown. The singer did not allude to those problems as the reason for her layoff in her interview. Instead, she said she was more interested in raising her daughter than making another album.

“I kind of got comfortable with being left alone, just being a mom who would take her daughter off to school, and who would pick her up from school. I liked that vibe, I liked that feeling, because I never really had the opportunity,” said Houston. “I was always travelling with her all the time.” She credits her mentor, music mogul Clive Davis, who worked with her on the album, with pushing her to come back to the recording studio.

“He called me one day and he said, ‘It’s time.’ And I said, `Time for what?’ And he says, `Time for you to come back and sing for us again,'” she said. “It’s very special and I feel humbled to be asked to do it again and want to be heard.” Davis previewed nine tracks at the event, including one song co-written by Alicia Keys and two by R. Kelly. David Foster, Diane Warren and Akon are also on the disc as writers and collaborators.

While Houston is relishing her return to the music, she says she’s not quite ready to be back in the spotlight again. “I am not geared for it. It goes along with the territory. I’m still going to remain the very quiet, private person I’ve been for the last 10 years,” she said. “I just want to be recognised for my music and for what it does and how it inspires people and how it makes people feel as opposed to talking about Whitney all the time kind of thing. That’s all done, it’s passed and I would just like to be recognised for my music. Observer

Beenie hit the stage right after Kartel with the colours of dawn colouring the sky with his trademark ‘ dem get mi ma-ma-ma-ma-maddd’, before segueing neatly into Gunshots inna the Air. He then got a big forward for his new song, Stock and Pile.

He then did two Michael Jackson songs as a tribute to the late King of Pop, doing The Girl is Mine and Heal the World, he then did his own microwave version of Kartel’s Money of My Mind with the D’angel built-in punch line ‘not even D’Angel can talk say she own me’ which the crowd loved.

However, many fans were disgruntled that they did not receive a more comprehensive performance from the Doctor given that the performance took place on a day when he was honoured for contributing 30 years to the biz. Vybz Kartel also joined Beenie Man onstage during the performance doing a song called Gaza Mi Say on a hip hop sounding riddim. Beenie also solicited a big up from Kartel with regards to the award he had won earlier.

Bounty Killer delivered one of his best performances in recent history, showing his more humane side, cracking jokes and witty one-liners that entertained the huge audience. He told the audience that his “battle scars had taught him a lot of lessons’.

“Oonu deal wid me a way last year but is alright, mi is a good yute,” he intoned as he attempted to connect with the audience. He then criticised the recent taxes implemented on taxes and salt before doing Pop It off, and then a quick medley with dancehall classics such as Look Into My Eyes, Another Level, Eagle and Hawk and What Else Yu Waan Mi Do.

He checked himself once when he attempted to do Kill off Dem BC, cutting it off quickly with a terse ‘it makes no sense’ and then got a huge forward for Nutten Nuh Change. He alluded to his recent court cases and various criminal charges with a typical Bounty-ism: ‘I am in charge’. He also bussed the place with a statement to the effect that “ah me mek the gully and the Gaza, ah me own the bl—th plaza”.

Bounty Killer’s performance appeared to eclipse that of Mavado who started strongly with a barrage of his hits, but faded a little at the end before recovering well with Money Nuff for which he earned a huge roar from the crowd. During his set,

Elephant Man was simply brilliant with fire torches stabbing at the sky and fire rockets going off and when he did ‘Dancehall Nice Again’, it was more than a song; it was a statement of how well the show was going with both Bounty Killer and Mavado bigging up the Gaza fans.

Kiprich performed really well but Flippa Mafia, the king of flossing, seemed to take some of his buzz with a confident extravagant performance that included emptying three bottles of Ace of Spades champagne onto the stage. He also threw money in the crowd which had men and women diving onto the ground to grab US dollars.

Spice did well, closing strongly with Ramping Shop, D’Angel was super-sexy as she danced on a pole and pulled off the best choreographed set of the night while Lady Saw and Macka Diamond both earned their forwards. Dancehallreggaeweseh.com

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