BY: JODEE BROWN
Following a Dancehall Night that’s been hailed as the best ever by industry observers,Reggae Sumfest upped the ante with a wholly captivating International Night for the ages.
On Friday night, a great sense of anticipation filled the Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex as fans craved the return of American R&B sensation, Trey Songz to Jamaican soil as well as the homecoming of Dancehall legend, Shabba Ranks after an 11 year absence from the local scene. That anticipation turned to delight as fans in Montego Bay got to witness stellar performances from both artistes as well as a slew of other acts that graced the Sumfest stage in the early hours of Saturday morning.
International Night featured prominent young and veteran acts that made strong impressions on Reggae Sumfest. One such artiste wasDownsound Records artiste, Nature, who validated his rising status within Reggae music with a powerful and energetic set that included delivering his breakthrough hit, World Peace.
Prominent Reggae singer, Tessanne Chin had the crowd rocking throughout the night; securing their attention as she vocalized smash hits such as The Reason, Messengerand Hideaway while also taking time out to pay tribute toJamaica 50 by singing the rocksteady-themed track,Hanging On To Strings, which had the crowd dancing as they enjoyed the old-school vibes on offer.
Keeping with that theme, several Reggae veterans were honored as a Jamaica 50 tribute took music lovers down memory lane while highlighting the evolution of Reggae music during the island’s run as an independent nation. Reggae legends John Holt, Frankie Paul, Pinchers, U-Roy and Dancehall patriarch, Yellow Man were some of the many legends who gave fans chills and thrills with sounds reminiscent of decades past when both of Jamaica’s founding genres began to take shape.
Tarrus Riley was nothing short of entertaining during his set, with a plethora of throwback and current hits dispersed through the performance including She’s Royal, Shaka Zulu Pickney, amongst others.
However, the most awaited act of the night, at least for female fans, was Trey Songz, who performed for the second time ever on Jamaican soil. Before the Sex A’int Better Than Lovesinger even took the Catherine Hall stage, some female patrons applied make up to their faces in the VIP section just to look good for Trey Songz while near-deafening screams could be heard the crowd prior to the entertainer’s entrance.
When Trey Songz finally made it on, he wasted no time in trying to tease his female lovers as he performed several of his hits including Can’t Help But Wait, I Can’t Stop Missing You, Neighbors Know My Name and Dive In You before removing his black t-shirt; sparking a frenzy amongst the crowd as he showed off his six pack.
Meanwhile, as promised, Trey Songz did incorporate some Jamaican flavor to his set by performing a cover of Bob Marley’s classic, Turn Your Lights Down Low, much to the approval of his Jamaican adorers.
Last, but certainly not least, was the ‘Emperor,’ Shabba Ranks, who made his first appearance atReggae Sumfest since 1994. Shabba had the Montego Bay crowd eating out of his hands for over an hour; performing classics that with surely have fans singing long after Sumfest’s conclusion.
Delivering his typically energetic and eccentric performance style, Shabba dished out many efforts from his catalogue including Ting a Ling, Mr. Loverman, None a Dem and a slew of others. Additionally, he called on Reggae superstar, Cherine Anderson on stage as part of his act.
Following Shabba’s memorable performance was another iconic moment that fans can take away from Reggae Sumfest’s 20th edition as he copped an award in honor of his vast contributions to the Jamaican music industry. After Jamaica’s minister of Youth and Culture, Lisa Hanna presented him with the award, an emotional Shabba Ranks thanked Sumfest organizers before bringing his wife, Michelle on stage to share his glory.
Shabba also took time to acknowledge his sons, Rexton and Jahwon Jr., who joined the veteran entertainer and his wife on stage. Shabba even took time to highlight his sons’ achievements in school overseas.
“Rex Jr, political science and law at Boston University and Jahwon, 98% average in chemistry, physics and maths!”Shabba shouted with joy before explaining that his sons were the main reason for his long absence from Jamaican soil.
Shabba Ranks later took time to shout words of encouragement to fellow entertainers before making a statement that truly connected with the entire crowd.
“Not only gunshot can come out of the ghetto, I’m a natural proof of ghetto progress.”