Monday, August 15, 2016

Jamaica's JAMBASSADORS

IMC Group Inc., in conjunction with Upscale Productions Inc and the Sickle Cell Trust Inc., hosted the first so-called Jambassador Awards show at The Rochdale Community Center in Queens.  So named in recognition of those Jamaicans making a mark in their community; who in doing so, also honor their Jamaican heritage.

The venue was beautifully decorated in the easily recognizable Black Green & Gold, the national colors of Jamaica which not only recently celebrated her 54th year of independence, but who is also being represented at the 2016 Rio Olympics by the best and brightest athletes.
The Jambassador Awards was the hot ticket in town on Saturday August 6, the actual Jamaican Independence day and Jamaicans and supporters filled the grand ballroom to celebrate in style.  Tickets reasonably priced at $100 made it a much more viable option to celebrate Jamaica – especially being an all inclusive price!

As one awardee after another graced the stage to receive their Jambassador recognition, I could not help but reflect on all the good works that the Diaspora accomplishes which doesn’t seem to be recognized – thank goodness another organization has stepped in to fill that void.

Five  special community service awards were given to the new 2016 Jambassadors – Keyana Tennant (Manager Women in Engineering), Lorice Rodney (Medger Evers College Proparatory School), Mrs. Ambrozine Smith Dhu (Friends of Percy Jr. Hospitala, Jamaica), Beverly Nichols (President Push Start Foundataion), Dr. Norris Weir (Minister, fmr member of  the Jamaicans), with the Business award going to Andrew “Sam’s Caribbean” Morris, the Jambassador Award in Medicine was given to Marcia M. Edmond-Bucknor (Clinical Asst & Medical Director SI/NY Downstate Medical Center), MD, Bishop R.C. Hugh Nelson (Senior Pastor Church of God of East Flatbush) was given the Award for Religion, Andrew “Braata” Clarke (Founder/Principal Braata Productions Inc), got his Award for The Arts, the Health & Nutrition Award went to Gloria Bent (Associate Director NYC Health & Hospitals,  North Central Bronx) and the Education Jambassador Award was presented to Dr. Michael A. Wiltshire, (Principal of Medgar Evers Preparatory School and the Boys & Girls HS Brooklyn).

Long on speeches, particularly manifesting itself in the tag team MC efforts of brothers Patrick and Ian Buddington, feet were itching to get onto the dance floor, once key note speaker Congresswoman Yvette Clarke had wrapped up her greetings, congratulations and exhortation to vote in the upcoming Presidential elections. The Platinum One Band provided a wonderful diversion and gave revelers a chance to change positions and dance off their dinner selections.  Headed by front man Ray and accompanied by former 2015 Jamaican Rising Star winner Marcia, they definitely raised the temperature in the ballroom by several degrees singing contemporary music followed by songs from yesteryear before introducing one of the awardees – Mr. Norris Weir from the Jamaicans who sang the popular Festival Song “Baba Boom” and “Things You Say you Love” followed by Land of my Birth.  He certainly took those on the dance floor back to the heady days of Jamaican Rock Steady music.

Disco music was provided by Oxtail Jackson from Road International, who was just warming up when he was interrupted for more talk from the hosts who were announcing the raffle – that was it for me as I then decided it was time to beat a hasty retreat back to the Bronx.  Word of advice to the organizers – you have the makings of what could be an annual success story, but don’t go overboard on speeches – the people really want to jump up and dance to celebrate Jamaica’s Independence.


Friday, June 17, 2016

Make my Jerk to Go!

Heineting!
Marie Deeble-Walker engineered a ‘soft’ launch of her latest project ‘Jerk To Go’ on Thursday June 16 at 46 W 116th street, a pop up extension to the venue known as Mist Harlem.

Authentically designed to replicate a Jamaican backyard hang out chill spot – full marks were given for the simplicity of the visual installations by artist Michael Escoffery, which, when combined with the great selections of reggae music on continuous loop almost had patrons imagining that they were liming on a Caribbean island of their choice.

Welcome to Puu Nani Street
The menus were etched on blackboards  strategically hanging on the rustic brick wall and featured the world-famous jerk sauces combined with fish, chicken , corn,  veggies, nachos and beef sliders.  Sides on offer like festival and plantains, Marley Coffee and sweet cakes and puddings for desert all added to the Caribbean flavor. 

Although no ‘hard’ liquor is available, the amenable bar staff mix up delicious concoctions containing 20% alcohol that leave you wanting more and not missing that ‘hard’ liquor at all.  Sipping on a Heineken & Ting, this writer certainly remembered many Caribbean nights spent quenching incessant thirst with her unique creation.  


I’d strongly recommend the curious, the trendy and homesick and the weary to check out Jerk to Go on the Terrace of Mist Harlem.  Opening hours – Mondays to Fridays 4 pm to midnight, Saturdays noon to midnight and Sunday noon to 10 pm.  Brunch is served on the weekend.



Mein hostess - Marie Deeble-Walker

Monday, April 11, 2016

The First 2000 Days

I wonder how many people know the importance of the first 2000 days in a child's life?  Recent guests on the Conduit Show, mother and daughter team Daseta Gray and Reeshema Brightley have been advocates of early childhood development for some time and bemoan the fact that communities of color don't get the importance of the right investment in the lives of this underserved group.

The numbers and locations of new prisons are predicated by the reading test scores of children in the third grade!.  That statement is not anecdote, it's factual and should give serious cause for concern.

The information they provided in a short space of time moved me to add the video of our conversation on the Conduit Show to my blog.  The information needs to be shared with those who would benefit most - but it is information that we all need to hear, if only to ensure that we become conduits in sharing this vital information.  It really takes a village to raise a child and the Conduit listeners and readers of this blog can do their part in sharing this this information.

Click below for the video.

The Conduit Show - Sabree


Monday, March 7, 2016

House of D’Marsh : La Vie du Noir (The Life of the Black) - Pictures by Roland Hyde


Coco - Mat located in New York’s fashionable Soho area was a fitting if somewhat unusual setting for the staging of designer D’Marsh’s latest Haute Couture collection – La Vie du Noir (The Life of the Black); his contribution to New York’s fashion week; on February 18, 2016.  Glenroy Marsh, who has been working and living in NYC for the past ten years, unveiled his 2016 collection to an eclectic mix of fashionistas, entertainers, print and digital media specialists and investors who were treated to the latest offering from a trailblazing son of the Rock.  D’Marsh’s determination, drive and travels have broadened his horizons since his early foray into the heady world of fashion and his first store in Jamaica.  His vision - reflected in this latest collection - tells a story of sophistication.  From the parade of models all clad in garments built on a palette of black, accentuated with teal, uncluttered and bereft of excessive frippery, the immediate take-away was the smooth clean lines of both the women’s and men’s wear.   



Highlights of the collection included the perfectly constructed boned corset, the sophisticated and flirty cocktail evening dresses and a men’s line of exquisitely tailored-to-fit shirts and pants.  The choice of models, haughtily strutting their stuff complimented the look to perfection, the designs hugging the models, appropriately fitting and flaring on both male and female forms, the unifying detail – a delightful mosaic pattern in brilliant blues that conjured up images of far-away castles and kingdoms ruled by princes of old or the intricate jigsaw patterns of medieval stained glass windows.  The mosaic pattern was repeated in the sparse accessories carried by the women - small clutch bags or purses.
The inspiration for this collection comes; as Marsh tells it; from a stylish black Parisian couple migrating to New York and the challenges they face as immigrants, the assumptions formed about them and how they overcome and assimilate.  The inspiration for this collection mirrors reality and the current hot button issues of immigration, illegal immigration and the presidential debates that have given some a perfect bully platform from which to scapegoat the weakest in society and the opportunity to outline the measure that will be taken to prevent their quest for a peaceful existence and the ability to provide for their families. 


The House of D’Marsh has a symbiotic relationship with Caribbean, African, and European cultures and is an apt fit for sponsors Restless Native Media Group, Aflik TV and Black Speech  Media the success of the cross-culturalisation is evident and an exciting hint of things to come.  

Other sponsors included title sponsor Caribbean Food Delights, The Jamaican American International Caribbean Chamber of Commerce, iLAND Magazine, Sinners & Saints and CG & D New York.

La Vie du Noir - Moving forward from obstacle to assimilation and excellence.  

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Ties That Bind


There are some ties that are so strong, the passage of time cannot weaken or demolish the genetic bond between family members.  This fact hit home with poignant force when I was recently reunited with cousins that I grew up with in England.  Although the reunion was orchestrated because of a very sad occasion -  we converged 


on a home that served as a one-time lively hub, the residence of my Uncle Roy – Leroy A. McKenzie for a  celebration of his life.  Larger than life, in fact having lived several lives, definitely a ladies man, but also a loving and dedicated father who raised his children the best he knew how.  He mentored many young men and taught them a trade that would guarantee them a lucrative income as he imparted his impeccable work ethic.  He passed on his love of fishing and spent many hours in quiet contemplation or meaningful conversation with those who accompanied him.


So in the midst of tears, there was plenty of laughter as the crazy cousins got together again.  Sharing a zany code of humor; a throwback from the days of our youth; nostalgic ruminations, hugs and kisses and pure tomfoolery.  The ties that bind are still intact – I see them when I see the features of my beloved grandmother Miss Brenda in the faces and mannerisms of my cousins, the children of my mother’s oldest brother – Uncle Roy.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Very Merry Coachmus

A chance encounter at a Westchester hospital has achieved more than any multi-million dollar ad campaign could ever do in the lives of three locals; not to mention reinforcing the true meaning of the Christmas season; with an unselfish and totally unsolicited act by an executive from an American premier high-end legendary leather goods and accessories merchandiser.

One never knows who and where you will meet someone who leaves such an impact, that they color the rest of your day and sometimes even your life.  A totally serendipitous encounter when my mother and sister whose actions in independently deciding to sport their classic Coach bags (both over 25 years old I should add) led to a conversation opener with a highly placed Coach executive who also happened to be visiting a relative in hospital.  The interaction that followed was warm, funny and irreverent, business cards were exchanged as my mother and sister spoke of their enduring affection for the Coach brand, and a yearning for the classic bags of old.  My interjection that between them they probably owned 25 coach bags was only a slight exaggeration.

The executive who shall remain nameless was delighted to meet life-long supporters of the brand and gushed that she would definitely be rewarding all three with a gift.  Farewells were said and the group parted ways.  The encounter lifted spirits, but no more was thought about the promise of a gift, after all, like the real reason for Christmas, sometimes gifts take too much precedence, when in fact it is the interaction with family, friends and yes, sometimes even strangers, that hold more meaning and leave one with a greater feeling of satisfaction.

Bright and early the next morning, the icing on the cake came, when the executive arrived bearing gifts, a lovely body bag and two pairs of soft-as-kid gloves all bearing that famous logo.

To the suits at Coach, this interaction is priceless and has reinforced brand loyalty in more ways than you can imagine, it has restored a love for a great product, given ordinary shoppers a chance to interact with someone who has shown that she listens to loyal customers (hopefully Coach will soon return to those classic lines) and made a new believer in a coveted back in the day product, which definitely gave proud owners a certain je ne sais quoi.  Thanks Coach - have a wonderful Coachmus.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Gentleman - MTV Unplugged


Gentleman- MTV Unplugged is the German artist’s 10th album and a major departure from his normal output. For starters, the album is a compilation of previously released music with two new songs added from his collaborations with Shaggy “Warn Dem and “Solidarity” with Ky-Mani Marley. More collaborations with Tanya Stephens, Milky Chance, Tamika, Martin Jondo, Marlon Roudette, Capino and Christopher Martin are also included.
Those who have watched the MTV unplugged series; and there have been some memorable ones; know the premise is that the artist(s) perform without amplification of any kind – hence the ‘unplugged’ which qualifies itself by adding the words Unadorned, Unattached, Unguarded.
>VP, the largest independent reggae record label, international music distributors, and retail record store organized the event in tandem with Milk River Lounge and promoter Raul. The press event preceding the performance of selected songs from the new album was a low key and relaxed one hosted by Richard Lue, Director of Business Development at VP, who kicked off with questions to Gentleman before opening the floor to give the press corps ample time to pose their commentary and questions. Gentleman was indeed relaxed, affable and in a playful mood, who, when asked by this writer to describe his music, perhaps prompted by the options in the question, replied, his music is reggae, roots, world music! When asked what the experience was like recording unplugged in such an intimate setting, he said it was a cool experience, but no different to performing before tens of thousands of fans. After the questions, Gentleman gave an impromptu acapella performance of his DJ skills much to the delight of everyone around him.
An added treat for the evening was the MTV film of the making of Gentleman’s Unplugged, which set the scene quite nicely for what was to follow. The performance was perhaps recorded withs the largest group of performers on an Unplugged stage, comprising 8 band members, including virtuoso saxophonist Jamaican Dean Fraser, a strings section and other wind instruments together with back up singers, including Tamika his partner. In contrast, the Milk River stage supported Gentleman, his accompaniment of two back-up singers and two guitarists – unplugged indeed.
While there were no jaw-dropping revelations, Gentleman did announce that following his collaboration with Ky-Mani, the two will be producing an album together. He was natural, chiding his band members affectionately on a minor slip-up, one could sense the camaraderie the performers shared. He definitely connected with the audience, leaving the stage to serenade those who were singing along with him word for word and breaking down the barrier between them and the stage. All in all, a very pleasant evening spent in the company of a man who wants to spread his philosophy through his love of reggae music and Jamaican culture.
If you are a Gentleman fan, you’ll love the stripped down intimate feel of Unplugged, if you don’t know this artist – there’s something for every taste on this double CD - check him out – he’s really very good.