Grammy nominated Recording Artist Etana recently kicked off her US summer Tour in promotion of her latest album, “Reggae Forever“. From April 13 to August 3, Etana brings the hits to stops including Texas, New York, Florida, and California. Over the Memorial Day Weekend (May 26), she made a stop in Massachusetts at the Surfside Salisbury Beach. Opening for the Reggae Artist was upcoming Recording Artist, Rhiya Luna!
With her set lasting an hour, Rhiya Luna treated the audience to some classic Reggae and R&B hits, and a few of her original compostions showcasing her diversity. With DJ Garfield’s assistance, Rhiya kicked things off with Bob Marley’s “Is This Love“, and included the Sam Cooke classic “Bring It On Home To Me” before closing with her tracks “Really Like You“, and the soon to be released “Me & I“. She was well received by those in attendance as some danced and assisted in performing with her on stage.
Jamaicans islandwide were treated to a “Wakanda-style” celebration for the Charles Chocolates Dancin’ Dynamites Competition finale last Sunday. Roars of screams and applause filled the venue as crowd favourites Street Team were announced as the Season 13 winners to roars of screams and applause.
The show hosts, judges, and audience members donned their finest dashikis and asa okes during the live show, as the winning team – which had also entered the competition last year but placed fourth – thrilled audience members and beat four other competing dance crews with their quick footwork and eye-dazzling afro moves.
Roxanne Brown, Brand Manager for Charles Chocolates, said she was pleased with the outcome of the grand finale. “This ‘Clash 13’ season was extremely challenging but the dancers stuck to it and we’re glad that they performed well,” she said. “The weekly challenges were demanding, however, Street Team was determined. They covered the craft lessons they had learned from the previous competition and I’m really happy that they won. They deserve it.”
The team, which comprises Kemar Boyd, Adrian Jonas and Andre Henry, received the public’s top vote and cash prizes of over J$1 million from Jenny Jenny Productions, title sponsor Charles Chocolates, and associate sponsors. Anchovy High, the only team from a secondary school, placed second; New Era placed third; and Unruly Skankaz placed fourth; taking home J$400,000 from Jenny Jenny Productions and Burger King, J$200,000.00 and J$50,000.00, respectively, along with other prizes in kind.
The finale’s “Wakanda” theme paid homage to this year’s huge box office Disney-Marvel action hit Black Panther, which boasted a predominately black cast and crew as it became the top grossing solo superhero movie of all-time. In keeping with the theme, the dance routines from the clashing teams resembled popular African dances such as the ‘gwara gwara’ from South Africa and the Ghanian ‘azonto’.
Street Team’s Kemar Boyd said, “This year, we come back fi it mad! We don’t settle as losers. We always aim high and we aim for first place.” Also admitting that they had to employ a much different approach to gain the edge, he said, “Everything weh we do last year, we do it twice as hard this year and think outside of the box. We get up early inna di morning and campaign.”
The show’s Jamaica College Auditorium venue was graced with the presence of Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport the Honourable Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, who also joined in on the action on stage with Chi Ching Ching during his performance debuting his new song and dance move ‘Rice and Peas’. Dancehall duo and Charles Chocolates Ambassadors Voicemail and gospel artiste Kevin Downswell also provided musical entertainment.
The Charles Chocolates Dancin’ Dynamites Competition feted audiences with the sweet sounds of Soca last Sunday as six teams faced off showcasing their best ‘Wine and wuk-up’ moves at the carnival-themed semi-final staging.
The evening’s proceedings took off with the competition’s own festival of high-energy after the announcement that dance crew Street Team was the crowd favourite with the most votes from the public since their dance routine the week prior.
The night’s Soca theme, highlighting just one of the many other musical genres of the Caribbean, is timely and comes just after this year’s record-breaking turnout for Jamaica Carnival, which saw more than fifty thousandtourists visiting the island to participate in what stakeholders called ‘The biggest carnival in Jamaica’s history’.
The performances utilized popular elements of the annual carnival festivities, including bright colours, wave rags, gems and glitter, as judges Orville Hall, Kerry-Ann Henry and Charles Chocolates brand ambassador Kevyn of Dancehall duo Voicemail commended their overall “solid movements”, “good energy” and “nice vibe”. The clear favourite for the evening – Street Team – danced to roars of applause and screams from the crowd with Hall stating in his review that they are “the ones that can potentially win the competition”.
The weekly ‘Clash 13’ showdown ended with a street battle between Overload Skankas and Unruly Squad after a random draw selection and saw Unruly losing out to the rival dance group, which won the J$20,000 on-the-spot prize, after last week’s one-minute face-off in the Nannyville community.
Roxanne Brown, Brand Manager, Charles Chocolates, said she’s expecting high energy synonymous with the rousing launch to be the clincher for the Season 13 ‘Clash 13, Cut and Clean’ finale. “There’s a lot of excitement as we approach the much-anticipated finals this Sunday, and we want the teams to bring it! From vibes, to synergy to energy – every team has to put on their best show to secure the top honours after the dust has settled.”
The Charles Chocolates Dancin’ Dynamite grand finale is set to take place on Sunday, May 20, at the Jamaica College Auditorium. After the impending elimination, five teams will go head-to-head for the winning title, bragging rights and over J$3 million in cash and prizes from competition organiser Jenny Jenny Productions, and title sponsors Charles Chocolates.
The Release Television Programme will be hosting their Community College Tour geared towards encouraging young Innovators. The Tour will feature “The Release Innovation Challenge (TRIC)” which is a challenge for students and staff to showcase and be awarded for their innovation in Technology, Music, Food and Fashion.
The Tour is expected to educate and promote the benefits of inventing; encourage Entrepreneurship among students and to promote sportsmanship among peers through in-school Innovation challenges. Executive Producer and Host for The Release, Talisa Taylor said, “Last year we did a Social ME-dia: Release Responsibly Tour that spoke to the use of Social Media among High School students so this year we decided to promote a different message through encouraging creativity and further awarding it”.
The Tour is set to begin in October and will visit schools such as College of Agriculture Science and Education (C.A.S.E.), Excelsior Community College, Knox Community College, Moneague Community College, Montego Bay Community College, Bethlehem Moravian College, Brown’s Town Community College, and Portmore Community College. Joseph Moore, another Executive Producer of The Release said, “We believe in promoting positivity so The Release will continue to share social messages that can influence our target audience”.
The Tour is sponsored by JUTC and Alternative Music will include a Celebrity judging panel, seminars from different groups on improving Inventions, capitalizing on them and a concert featuring student performers and guest Artists. Students or staff interested in the Tour can follow The Release on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more Information (@TheReleaseja), or call 833-5444.
Lauren Le Franc, a Jamaican Entrepreneur residing in
the United Kingdom, has won a Graduate Award from City University of London to expand her already established Coffee Business, J.A. Island Roasters. As part of her award package, Le Franc also secured a location for her business at the University’s Cass Business School, and is looking at commencing operations in the upcoming weeks.
Le Franc, a qualified Barrister of England and Wales who first set up the company in Jamaica in 2011 while completing her legal education, has been focused on selling roasted Coffee through J.A. Island Roasters under the brand, True Blue 100% Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee. With this award she is looking forward to importing organic and non-organic Jamaican green beans to the U.K. from the world-famous Blue Mountains.
She said the award package also covers operational costs, and comes with mentorship and support from the University. “I’m elated to have such an amazing opportunity to expand my business and to take brand Jamaica a step further into the spotlight,” shared Le Franc. “I already have a Distributor who has been contracted to take all my organic Coffee, I look forward to continuing the work with the Coffee Industry Board on this venture and I am heading into business with an optimistic mindset and a winning attitude.”
In 2014, J.A. Island Roasters received approval from the Certification of Environmental Standards (CERES) – an International organization which offers certification for organic farming and food processing, to maintain good practices in the Food Industry. Then, she received approval from the Coffee Industry Board to export organic certified Jamaican Blue Mountain green bean Coffee. Although she found favour for her roasted Coffee in the Asian market, she was in search of additional opportunities for development when she came across the City University of London’s Entrepreneur Graduate Scheme Competition in 2016, and her big break came when she decided to participate.
Fans have been adjusting to a smoother side of QQ with the recent release of “I Like It“. The single, produced by College Boiz Productions and QQ Music, is different from QQ’s more upbeat singles such as “One Drop“, “Jack Hammer” and “Kushi Wine” to name a few.
The Artist who has been absent from the Jamaican Dancehall scene for a while, has been performing on several major stages in the United States and Europe. “I want to show a different side to my music but whether i’m singing or deejaying, I am all about pleasing my female fans” shared QQ. The single is featured on the “Precious Seeds Riddim”, and has been receiving a favourable response from fans worldwide. The “One Drop” star is set to perform in Guyana in October, and Barcelona, Spain in November.
QQ has several new projects in the works, and is back in Jamaica to shoot music videos related to them. He added, “My last video was for “Kushi Wine”, but people still talk about my video for “Tweety Bird” directed by Strugu Films that was shot overseas”. “I Like It” is available for purchase on several digital platforms. QQ can be followed on Facebook.com/qquniverse, Instagram, and Twitter at @qqworld.