Wednesday, February 26, 2014

JAMAICA VISUAL BLOG - FEBRUARY 2014


The thought of doing a visual blog has been something I've toyed with for some time. Everyone knows of my affinity for Jamaica and its people, so I'm always traveling there for vacation or recovery and restoration. This time was no different – having just gotten over a very nasty bout of the 'flu – I had an urgent desire to go 'home'. I've never been to Jamaica with a young baby before, but this time I took my 20 month old grand-daughter and I can say the experience was one that was both priceless and very tiring. Kayleigh is a handful – no doubt about it – but I wouldn't trade the experience of introducing her to a part of her heritage. She loved it! From the foods to the sights, sounds, smells and close proximity to nature – she drank it all in, wanting to experience it all.

Traveling proved to be the biggest challenge, I was only able to hire a rental car for a short period of time (kudos to David Chen for his assistance in that department) and taking buses and taxis with the bag and pan associated with a baby was a bit daunting, but I've never been one to shy away from a challenge. In hindsight, the funniest experience by far was taking a taxi from Bath in St. Thomas to Morant Bay and to hear the driver exclaim that he had run out of gas! My aunt and I sat in the hot car while he traipsed off to the nearest gas station about 5 miles away. I gave him more sympathy he deserved – especially when I later discovered from friends in the area that this was somewhat of a regular occurrence for him. So much so, that his colleagues refuse to pick him up when he 'runs' out of gas!  I also had to 'blow up' the taxi driver in Morant Bay who thought he was slick when I went to the taxi park to get a taxi to Kingston.  He took one look at my clothes and the sweat dripping off my face and exclaimed "Lady ah charter you haffi charter me".  When I finished lambasting him in some raw chaw patois - he had nothing more to say - humpfff. lol.

One of the main purposes for my trip at this time is the event promoted by my cousin Iteen, proprietor of Iteen's in Bath – she hosts an annual Valentine's event. This year was special since another cousin from England made the effort to be there with us. Dor Ang – it was lovely seeing and spending time with her. If one thinks that what happens outside of Jamaica has no impact on those who remain – think again. It was obvious that there was a financial dearth impacting that semi-rural community – the people who would normally have attended the celebration were conspicuously absent; and it wasn't just Iteen's – another well publicized event in St. Thomas didn't do well either!

Fi Wi Sinting – the other reason I attend Jamaica in February was a bust. The reason? - no transportation! By this time I was beyond disappointed, but there was even more disappointment to come.

February is Reggae Month in Jamaica and I'm so proud of an organization called JARIA – Jamaica Reggae Industry Association. Their 2014 schedule of events was magnificent. From the Mona Chapel Ecumenical Thanksgiving Service to the last events at the end of February – the work that has gone into producing a series of stellar concerts, panel discussions, films and gatherings – not to mention tributes to Bob Marley, Dennis Brown AND Bunny Ruggs - is to be lauded, applauded and celebrated. I know they performed a herculean task, working with ludicrously limited funds – but they should definitely pat themselves on the back. Dem may be likkle – but bwoy dem TALLAWAH! 



Special thanks to my friend Steve for his patience - I promise to make it up to you and the organization next year.










Monday, February 24, 2014

Here Comes the King - A Daughter's Tribute

Marla Brown is the youngest daughter of legendary reggae singer Dennis “Crown Prince” Brown. Born in London to Dennis and wife Yvonne, she has four siblings who share their father's initials - 'D. Brown' – Dinah, Daniel, Deneice, Dennis– the latter uses his middle names Jason and herself Deborah known professional as Marla. Dennis spent a great deal of time in London, crafting some of his best works there and nurturing his young family.

Marla reminisces on growing up with Dennis, who she recalls as being a very loving and easy going father. “Mum was the disciplinarian in our household' she chuckled – 'dad was very easy going, loving, caring and sharing'. It is patently obvious that Marla has a very special bond with her father which lives on after his untimely passing when she was 12 years old. She tells the story of hearing the news of her father's death and recounts calling him the day before; he was not well and resting, she decided to call the next day, but never got to speak to him again. She wipes away tears and during our conversation, it is again reinforced that Marla is all about continuing her father's legacy, not just his music but his livity. She reveals that she and her siblings called themselves the Brown-Brady bunch; a reference to a 1970s popular American sitcom - The Brady Bunch! That this is a very tight-knit family is something else that is evident during the course of our chat on the grounds of the Bob Marley Museum at 56 Old Hope Road. It is fitting that we are having a conversation in that location, folks of my generation must now make way for the next and as we speak the Ghetto Youths Crew, the label spearheaded by Marley brothers Ziggy Stephen, Damion Jr. Gong and Julian (with label mates Wayne Wonder, Christopher Ellis and Black Am I), are rehearsing on the premises in preparation for another big February Reggae Month Celebration - Bob Marley's Birthday celebration on February 6.

D. Brown's legacy lives on and is strong in the Brown children, all of whom are musically inclined, Marla spent some years as a dancer before embarking on her fledgling singing career. She is in Jamaica to not only complete her own upcoming EP, but also to spearhead tributes to her father whose February 1 birthday is celebrated world-wide. Marla's passion is to ensure that the youth, particularly those in London where Dennis spent some time, get to know the man and his vast catalog of music.

Talking with Marla you definitely understand that her mission is more than the music, drawing on her family life with parents and siblings, the theme comes up again and again – it's all about LIVING IN LOVE. Something which Dennis Brown fans can definitely resonate with and draw a clear connection to many of his songs. Coming from an extremely tight knit family, one that has had to close ranks and absorb a huge void, has certainly rooted and grounded this young lady. With refreshing candor she is almost childlike in her fervent wish for the world to be one in which we all care about and love each other.

Poised on the verge of unimagined potential – there is already a buzz around Marla Brown who acquitted herself well at the Orange Street Tribute to her father held on Monday February 1 where a mic throw-down between Marla, General Trees and General Twitch was a definite crowd-pleaser. Debuting her original song “Here Comes the King” a tribute to her father. She tells the moving story of finding a rhythm in her music files and on listening and rewinding several times, she says she could swear that she heard her father's voice singing. She canceled all appointments and wrote the lyrics in record time, encompassing some of her father's song titles and other key phrases she remembers him using – what transpired is a love letter from daughter to father and is indeed a fitting tribute – not to a Crown Prince, but to a King - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qa8aBR4nxto

 © Sheron Hamilton-Pearson.  Article can be found at http://www.jamaicans.com/music/articles_reggae/daughtertribute.shtml


Read more: http://www.jamaicans.com/music/articles_reggae/daughtertribute.shtml#ixzz2uEbdjFuM