Friday, January 29, 2010


Groundbreaking rocksteady guitarist Lynn Taitt -- who played on influential records by the Skatalites, Derrick Morgan and Desmond Dekker passed away last Wednesday, according to the Jamaica Gleaner. Taitt, who was 75 and a Montreal resident, succumbed to cancer.

Born Nerlyn Taitt in San Fernando, Trinidad, he picked up guitar in the early 1960s -- when he was well into his 20s -- first heading to Jamaica in August 1963 to perform at a gig arranged by the legendary Byron Lee and designed to celebrate the country's first year of Independence from England. Taitt stayed in Jamaica, where he played with the aforementioned ska pioneers, plus the Sheiks, Comets and the Cavaliers.

By 1966, Taitt's band, the Jets, helped launch the rocksteady movement by crafting the bassline for 'Take It Easy' by Hopeton Lewis, which many cite as genre's first song. Establishing the Federal Studios sound, Taitt went on to help craft Alton Ellis' staple 'Girl I've Got a Date.'

Taitt worked often with Leslie Kong -- the Chinese-Jamaican producer who first recorded Bob Marley -- lending his memorable riffs to Dekker's '007 (Shantytown).' In 1968, Taitt moved to Canada, living in Toronto in the 1970s before ultimately settling in Montreal. There he wrote for local reggae, jazz and calypso groups and played and recorded with the Kingpins, a local ska outfit.


Cristy Barber, the VP of marketing and promotions at VP Records, was tired of seeing some of the best acts in reggae continuously overlooked every time Grammy season rolled around. Now, as Billboard reports, she's taken it upon herself to lead a campaign to educate reggae artists and producers about the market-based benefits that the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences can offer.

Barber's already organized a January 21-25 conference in Jamaica, where she will meet with industry execs to discuss the Grammy nomination process. Her corporate gaze, though, extends well beyond Jamaica's borders, as she's looking to recruit 100 or more Recording Academy members from the global reggae industry to vote for the 2011 nominations. Currently, Jamaica has only one Recording Academy member, a shockingly low statistic that highlights how much reggae has been under (or mis) represented in recent Grammy nominations. There are some institutional barriers that hinder Jamaican involvement, though, most notably the requirement that all nominations be postmarked 2 weeks before they arrive in Los Angeles, an impossibly short time frame that has discouraged eligible Caribbean voters from joining the Academy.

Barber, who was once nominated for a Grammy herself back in 2005, and who presided over the Marley family's Tuff Gong/Ghetto Youths labels, has been lobbying for a rule change for years, and this year, she finally succeeded; in 2011, Jamaican members will be able to vote online via PDF ballots, which should help turnout. Still, though, Barber and others recognize the need to raise awareness from the ground up. She's pretty confident she can be successful, too. As she says, "Winning a reggae Grammy offers a level of recognition that impacts sales, radio play and concert demands, essential elements in establishing a new generation of reggae stars. I wouldn't be doing the genre, the artists or Jamaica justice if I didn't embark on this campaign."


The REGGAE FILM FESTIVAL2010 @ HILTON KINGSTON will open February25 at the HILTON KINGSTON Ballroom with a Red Carpet Gala Reception and premiere of the Reggae documentary RUFFN' TUFF – FOUNDERS OF THE IMMORTAL RIDDIM by Japanese film maker Shizuo Ishi, featuring a galaxy of reggae stars including Leroy Sibbles, Bob Andy, Gregory Isaacs and John Holt all of whom are among the VIP reggae celebrities invited as Special Guests. Other films include premieres of 3 new Jamaican feature films and a rare documentary on Lee 'Scratch' Perry.

The HILTON KINGSTON Ballroom will be transformed into a Cinema for nightly screenings, while the Jonkanoo Lounge will host Lunchtime screenings, a Seminar and a special Children's programme. The HILTON KINGSTON offers a Reggae Film Festival accommodation package at reduced rates and will also offer Lunchtime Specials for midday cinema-goers.

Films already entered include features, documentaries and music videos by Jamaican and international directors, including entries from Hawaii, Italy, Japan, UK and Brazil. Awards will be presented by a panel of Judges in 9 categories including Best Film, Best Documentary and Best Music Video, and audiences will be invited to selected their favourites.

Several international film celebrities have been invited to attend, including noted director SPIKE LEE, rapper/actress EVE and ROGER GUENEVERE SMITH, star of Jamaican feature 'Betta Mus' Come' and 8 Spike Lee films, as well as the blockbuster “American Gangster” starring Denzel Washington. The noted actor will present a lecture with film clips as part of the REGGAE FILM FESTIVAL programme. Jamaican film celebrity guests include former heavyweight champ LENNOX LEWIS, star of 'Johnny Was” and star of two Jamaican feature films currently in production. In addition to Title Sponsor HILTON KINGSTON, sponsors include IRIE-FM, PHASE THREE and STANLEY MOTTA RENTALS.

The REGGAE FILM FESTIVAL 2010 @ HILTON KINGSTON is an activity of the Jamaica Film Academy established in 2008. This year's event is produced by a Planning Committee led by film maker and film festival organizer Barbara Blake Hannah. She said that since the first Reggae Film Festival in 2008, there have been many spinoffs, with festival films being invited to international events and winning awards. Film Festivals and people around the world, including Jamaica, have begun including reggae films in their programmes or presenting look-alike events, but these all have served to achieve the main objective of the Jamaica Film Academy, which is to promote Jamaican film culture and increase the opportunities for Jamaican film makers.

Blake-Hannah, who presented Jamaica's first film festival in 1974 and has produced several more since, has been a guest of international film festivals in Venice, Cuba, Iraq and Cannes. She is also producer/director of several films and worked on film productions including “The Harder They Come”, “A High Wind in Jamaica” and “Kla$h”. She and British film archivist Peter Gittins of Reggae Films UK conceptualized the first Reggae Film Festival in 2007 as a special event with private sector support. Mrs. Hannah continued developing the idea while working as Consultant to the Minister of Information, Culture, Youth & Sports on various projects including the planning and procedures for the first Reggae Month in 2008, into which the Reggae Film Festival was eventually incorporated with some government support.

The Jamaica Film Academy's aim is to see the Reggae Film Festival become an annual date in Jamaica’s events calendar that will provide Jamaican films with the needed international exposure that they deserve. Four different films have been made as a direct result of its first event in 2008 and two films premiered at the Reggae Film Festival 2009 have won international awards, evidence of just how important this event is.

The Jamaica Film Academy invites members of the Jamaican film industry and local businesses to help the Reggae Film Festival grow bigger and better. Further information on the REGGAE FILM FESTIVAL 2010 @ HILTON KINGSTON can be had at the official Reggae Film Festival website at


In light of the announcement that artist Kim Hamilton--formerly known as Gaza Kim, now known as Kym--has chosen to exit the Portmore Empire and Adidjahiem Records, Empire leader and record company CEO Adidja "Vybz Kartel" Palmer issues the following statement:

The Portmore Empire invested a substantial amount of money in the career of singer Kim Hamilton--filming music videos, printing promotional posters and clocking several hours in the studio honing her talent. We're disappointed that she felt the need to issue a press release to the media announcing her departure from the record label, Adidjaheim Records, without first notifying the company. This is particularly disturbing given the fact that she is still under contract and the record company has fulfilled its end of the agreement.

Nevertheless, we understand and respect her decision to leave even if we don't agree. We are prepared to negotiate the terms of her contract, to grant her creative freedom, while minimizing the impact on the company, as is customary in matters of business.

The Portmore Empire will continue to support and seek out young artistes in Dancehall. We believe that Jamaica has a never-ending reservoir of talent and the Empire will continue to develop and market young acts.

-Adidja Palmer-

This latest statement comes on the heels of a week-long firestorm of controversy surrounding an alleged attack on Kym at the hands of four men she claims to be affiliated with the Portmore Empire. Early this week, Vybz Kartel released a statement condemning the alleged attack on the 17-year old singer.

Source - Ms. Raine Inc

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Night life in Kingston is on the verge of witnessing a weekly performance show that will stimulate the minds of the sophisticated listener and one that is poised to generate a buzz and inject new life in live performance shows in and around Kingston.

This bolt of energy will be created by Christar Jazz-It-Up. This weekly event is set to transform Wednesday nights starting on February 3, 2010. Some of Jamaica's finest talents in voice, instruments and others will come together week after week to put together an entertainment package that will satisfy the craving for good live performances. With the backdrop being provided by the Hope mountains and the cool atmosphere that is constantly evident in the evenings on Hope Road, Christar Villa's Hotel is an ideal location for an event that can only be deemed as ... 'Too cool for an average venue'.

The first week will see performances by Maurice Gordon, Mark Joseph, Leontre Roberts, Kai Wakeling and Jhamiela Smith. The later a budding Neo/soul artiste whose style her merging Reggae with Jazz into soulful pieces which leave even the unappreciative listener of Reggae music in awe.

Christar Jazz Nights is certainly the ‘coolest’ place to be on Wednesday nights.