Alkaline, I-Octane to headline Dancehall Night at Reggae Sumfest 2014

Dancehall stars, Alkaline and I-Octane are two of the headline names set to perform at Reggae Sumfest 2014by Jodee Brown

Hailed as one of the most lyrical and controversial Dancehall artists in recent memory, emerging Jamaican deejay, Alkaline will be one of the headliners of this year’s edition of Reggae Sumfest, according to reports Wednesday.

The artist, known for hits such as Church Folks, Moving Mountains and Lonely, is making his second appearance at the highly-acclaimed show, debuting last year on Dancehall Night to relative approval.

Also billed for Reggae Sumfest 2014 is Dancehall/Reggae powerhouse, I-Octane, who closed Dancehall Night at last year’s edition of the popular stage show. Octane continues to dominate local charts this year with songs such as Trend Setta and Crausis while currently promoting his latest album, My Journey, which includes the hits Love You Like I Do and Lighters Up (feat. Alaine).

Other big names expected to grace the Reggae Sumfest stage include Mr. Vegas, who recently scored with his hit, Party Tun Up (feat. Sean Paul and Fatman Scoop) as well as fellow deejay Spice, who recently collaborated with hip-hop superstar, Busta Rhymes on the remix of her So Mi Like It single.

Popular deejays, Aidonia, QQ, Assassin and respected singjay, Bugle have also been confirmed for this year’s show.

Reggae Sumfest organizers say that they are in the process of recruiting bigger names for the show, but have not revealed who those names are.

Some big names outside of the Dancehall arena that have been confirmed for the show include season five winner of The Voice, Tessanne Chin, American hip-hop superstar, Wiz Khalifa as well as Reggae superstars, Chronixx, Jah Cure and Sanchez.

Reggae Sumfest 2014 will take place from July 13-19 at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex in Montego Bay. Early bird tickets are now available on Reggae Sumfest’s official website.

The show is being sponsored by The Gleaner Company Ltd., Jamaica Tourist Board, Digicel, Iberostar, Pepsi, Secrets and IRIE FM.

Film on Bob Marley and the Wailers in the works: Report

Legendary Reggae band, Bob Marley and The Wailers,will reportedly be chronicled in a movie about Bob Marley, said to be created by Manadaly Pictures.

Legendary Reggae band, Bob Marley and The Wailers,will reportedly be chronicled in a movie about Bob Marley, said to be created by Manadaly Pictures.

by Jodee Brown

A long-awaited film based on the true story of Reggae icon, Bob Marley and his band, Bob Marley and the Wailers could finally be coming to fruition after reports emerged Wednesday that American film company, Mandalay Pictures are working on putting one together.

The movie, titled after one of Marley’s most famous songs, Buffalo Soldiers, will chronicle the success and trials encountered by Marley and the Wailers throughout their highly successful run from the 1960s to the 80s. Oscar-winning writer, Barry Morrow, who wrote the popular 80s flick, Rain Man and producer, Cathy Schulman who was a part of another Oscar-winning movie, Crash are said to behind the project, according to

There is no word on the budget for the film or who will play Marley and co, nor is there word that the movie has been endorsed by members of the Marley family.

The last film about Bob Marley was the aptly titled Marley in 2012, which took a behind the scenes look at Marley and his rise to international superstardom. The documentary, filmed by Oscar-winning director, Kevin MacDonald, featured never-before-seen footage of Marley and his family as well as interviews with several of his family members, friends and business associates, from ex-wife, Rita Marley to former Wailers running mate, Bunny Wailer to ex-manager, Chris Blackwell and many others.

The movie was well-received in the United States, the United Kingdom and Jamaica, who each held special screenings to promote the film.

Bob Marley, along with Wailer and fellow Reggae legend, Peter Tosh formed The Wailers in the early 60s before Tosh and Wailer left the group in 1974 following disagreements with the group’s manager, Chris Blackwell. Marley would go on to form Bob Marley and The Wailers, which also included the I-Threes (Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt and Marcia Griffiths) and toured with the band until 1980, when his battle with cancer became more intense.

Jerome awards celebrate best of the community

Rudy croppedby Rosemary Moodie (Share)

As a working journalist, the Harry Jerome Awards rank among the most appealing assignments Rudy Blair has covered over the years.

Winning the prestigious honour that recognizes excellence in Canada’s Black community however surpasses that as far as the award-winning music reporter is concerned.

 Blair was among 16 recipients recognized last Saturday night at the 32nd annual awards administered by the Black Business & Professional Association (BBPA).

 “I can remember been at the side of the stage on many occasions just looking up in awe at the recipients accepting their awards and always imaging what it would be like to be in that position,” he said. “When I got the call that I was going to join the esteemed group, I was floored. This is your community honouring you and to know that my name is now associated with Harry Jerome who was a great Canadian is quite something else. Words cannot put it all together for me. I am so humbled and I hope to live up to this honour.”

 Born in England five decades ago to Guyanese immigrants, Blair arrived in Canada eight months after birth and attended Vaughan Road Academy.

 “That was probably the best high school I could have gone to,” recalled Blair who was among the first class of the school’s Hall of Fame inductees. “The teachers were fantastic and they provided me with the tools to help me get where I am today. Back then, I had a blast not just learning, but also making friends. Many of those relationships endure up to this day. Vaughan Road prepared me for the real world.”

 The Humber College radio program graduate has also been honoured by his alma mater. He was inducted into Humber’s Radio Hall of Fame in 2012 and last year he was bestowed with an honorary degree.

 One of four children, Blair dedicated the Harry Jerome Award to his parents – Arnold and Daphne – who attended the ceremony at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. He said they paved the way for him and his siblings – Colin, Debi and Abraham – to become successful citizens.

 “My parents worked their butts off,” he said. “They toiled night and day to ensure we had a roof over our heads, food in our stomachs and clothes on our backs. They made huge sacrifices to ensure we got the best Christmas and birthday presents. That inspired me to want to work hard because I wanted to live up to their standards. Every award or honour that I have received is really not about me. It’s about honouring my parents and my family.”

 A music lover, Blair has interviewed many celebrities in the business, including Michael Buble, Janet Jackson, Lionel Ritchie and Barry White who died in July 2003.

 “I interviewed Barry for about 30 minutes around Valentine’s Day by phone about two years before he died,” Blair said. “He’s my all-time favourite. When he passed away, I was the only one in Canada with a recent interview of him talking about his life and how he wanted to be remembered.”

 In addition to helping 680 News win 10 Best News/Talk/Sports awards, Blair has covered three Grammy Awards, won the 2008 Canadian Media Idol regional award and appeared in the acclaimed documentary, Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing, which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2006.

 Last Tuesday, On the Mic with Rudy Blair debuted on Rogers TV. The weekly half-hour program showcases major music acts and shines a light on local talent. The 13-episode show also includes guest interviews and video highlights.

 This year’s recipients include filmmaker Nicole Brooks who produced and directed A Linc in Time: The Lincoln Alexander Story.

 She enjoys telling stories, particularly those that reflect the achievements of Blacks in Canada.

 “It’s ingrained in me because even though I dabble in different disciplines in the arts, I tend to put it all under  one umbrella and just call myself a storyteller, said Brooks who is bilingual. “So it just depends on the medium through which I want to tell that story. I am so enthralled about our history and people who are doing exceptional things in our community and documenting that or telling it on stage. That’s what really gets me going.”

 Brooks, who was born and raised in Ottawa to Jamaican immigrant parents, is collaborating with the National Film Board of Canada to develop her first feature length documentary that will focus on Salome Bey who is considered Canada’s first lady of the blues.

 New Jersey-born Bey, who has lived in Ontario since 1966 and is a member of the Order of Canada, is in a nursing home with advanced dementia.

Toronto Star reporter Jim Rankin who in 2002 led a team of reporters, editors and researchers involved in a Michener Award-winning investigative series into race, policing and crime in the city, was presented with the award for public advocacy.

“This award means a lot and it’s really a nice surprise,” he said. “I think it speaks to the work that me and my colleagues have been doing and it sort of builds on academic work going back a decade. As members of the media, we are in a position where we are able to bring stories to a bigger audience. That’s the power of what we have done and it has created some healthy discussions. It was no surprise to the Black community what we were reporting. But, what we were able to do was bring solid data and foundation to everything and show, with numbers, this is what it looks like at the end of the day.”

Other award recipients were Justice Donald McLeod who received the President’s Award, Liberal Party of Quebec youth commission president Madwa Nika Phanord-Cadet who was honoured for leadership, master chef Selwyn Richards who was recognized for business excellence, Toye Ojo who was honoured for academic brilliance, Vancouver-based youth entrepreneur Brittany Palmer who started an organization to make scholarships accessible to students, Justice Greg Regis who was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award, Denise Jones who was the recipient of the Entertainment Award, basketball player Andrew Wiggins who has declared for this year’s National Basketball Association (NBA) draft, Noca Inc. president & chief executive officer Collin Haughton, Dalhousie University professor Dr. Kevin Hewitt who was recognized for professional excellence, CBC managing director Susan Marjetti who was the Diversity Award winner and YWCA Toronto president Dr. Rosemary Moodie who is a pediatrician and neonatologist at the Hospital for Sick Children.

BBPA president Pauline Christian congratulated the winners, thanked sponsors for their support and announced the organization, which recently received a City of Toronto grant to hire staff, will be moving into a new two-storey building later this year at 180 Elm St. The building, previously occupied by the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, is being converted into office space, conference rooms and a Centre of Excellence.

The awards honour the memory of Jerome, who set seven world track records and helped create Canada’s sports ministry. He was slated to be the keynote speaker at a celebration to mark the record performances of Canada’s athletes at the 1982 Commonwealth Games when he died suddenly a fortnight before the organizers contacted him. They decided to honour the athletes with awards named after Jerome.

Since the inception in 1983, a total of 370 Harry Jerome Awards have been presented to individuals and one organization – Eva’s Initiatives in 2005 – for excellence in myriad fields.

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Kartel calls for end to threats made following murder conviction

Dancehall star, Vybz Kartel says fans making threats against journalists and others following his recent murder conviction are only doing him more harm than good.

Dancehall star, Vybz Kartel says fans making threats against journalists and others following his recent murder conviction are only doing him more harm than good.

by Jodee Brown

Embattled Dancehall star, Vybz Kartel has called for fans and others top stop making threats against journalists and members of the public in the aftermath of his March murder conviction in the Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams trial.

Since the verdict and subsequent life sentence on April 3, several threats have been made against journalists due to their coverage of the trial, as well as telecommunications giant, Digicel following voice notes implicating Kartel in the lead up to when the murder allegedly took place. Nationwide News reporter, Abka Fitz-Henley received some of said threats after playing some of the voice notes obtained by the local radio station following the trial.

An editor at the Jamaica Observer faced similar treatment after it was alleged he was the author a story that broke Sunday citing an unnamed police source as saying Kartel had given them information on wanted men in his native Portmore in exchange for the possible dismissal of his murder charge, a claim the deejay’s lawyer later refuted.

In a statement released Tuesday morning, Kartel said persons making these threats should cease and desist, insisting they are not making his situation any easier.

“I appeal to any misguided individual or individuals who may think it appropriate to seek to threaten or intimidate anyone to stop it,” he said. “Such action is not helping me or my fellow appellants and is playing into the hands of the police and others who are seeking to discredit me and prejudice the fair hearing of my appeal.”

Speaking out for the second time since his conviction, Kartel also said he harbors no negativity towards those involved in his trial.

“During my sentencing hearing, my attorney, Tom Tavares-Finson, indicated to the court that I hold no ill-will to any of the persons involved in my trial, neither the police, prosecutors, executives from Digicel and certainly not any member of the media who covered my trial in a manner which exposed the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case for all the world to see,” he said.

“I reiterate the position, I hold no ill-will to anyone who was involved in my trial, and I put my faith in the judicial system and the appeal process on which we have now embarked. In the meantime I thank my family, friends and fans who continue to support and have faith in me.”

Meanwhile, Kartel’s family has spoken of their own fears following Sunday’s revelation about the deejay’s alleged offer to rat out criminals in exchange of freedom. The story, which also revealed Kartel’s alleged ties to the Klansman Gang, as well as more incriminating video evidence in the Williams murder trial, has the family concerned about possible retribution.

“This is endangering the lives of Adidja Palmer’s family, his siblings, and his girlfriend,” Maureen Nelson, Kartel’s eldest sister, told the Jamaica Observer. “When a news like this come on the radio and we don’t know if it is credible, we don’t know the source… and they don’t think about how it is affecting our lives.”

“Everybody is now crying. We thought that when he got sentenced to life in prison it would be over,” she continued. “We are locked up in the house right now. We have fears of reprisals and I don’t even know how John public will react to us.”

His mother, Teresa Palmer expressed her anger at the police’s revelations in the article and other news outlets, saying they had ulterior motives when divulging all this information long after the trial’s conclusion.

“When him a go come and a seh how much people Kartel kill and that never come out in the trial, him not doing him job,” she told the newspaper. “Why now when dem done tell lie seh him kill man and dem no find no body and police tamper with the evidence and give him life sentence dem a go seh all these things?” Palmer asked. “Why are all these things coming out now?”

Ninja Man murder trial set for November after attempt to throw out case rejected

Dancehall artist, Ninja Man has been given a November court date where he is set to stand trial in the Richard Johnson murder Jodee Brown

After Dancehall superstar, Vybz Kartel was convicted of murder and subsequently sentenced to life in prison, another legend of the genre will have to wait several more months before his long-awaited murder trial is finally set in motion.

On Monday, Desmond Ballentine, more popularly known as Ninja Man appeared in a Kingston courtwhere he was scheduled to kick off the trial. However, the deejay, through his attorney, K.D. Knight, issued an application to have the case thrown out.

Knight argued that the case against Ninja Man and two co-accused should be dismissed given a breach of the constitutional rights, considering the length of time the case has yet to be tried. That application was soon rejected by the presiding judge, who then issued a November 10 date for the commencement of the trial.

Monday’s court proceedings took place just over five years after the fatal shooting of Richard Johnson in March 2009. The deejay was charged with murder, conspiracy to murder, shooting with intent and illegal possession of a firearm in relation to the incident. Ninja Man’s son, Janiel Ballentine and another man, Dennis Clayton were jointly charged in the incident.

The trial has endured several delays since then, though Ninja Man has been on bail since March 2012 and has since revived his nearly three-decade-long career after joining forces with Downsound Records.

Vybz Kartel and Shawn Storm speak out after life sentence, maintain innocence

Dancehall superstar, Vybz Kartel and his former Portmore Empire running mate, Shawn Storm continue to maintain their innocence despite their March 13 conviction on murder charges in the Clive 'Lizard' Williams Jodee Brown

Incarcerated Dancehall superstar, Vybz Kartel and long-time protégé, Shawn Storm have spoken out for the first time since their convictions and subsequent life sentence on murder charges in the Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams murder charges.

The two, along with Kahira Jones and Andre ‘Mad Suss’ St. John were sentenced Thursday, with Kartel not eligible for parole for the first 35 years of his sentence, while Shawn Storm will not be eligible until 25 years into his sentence. On Friday, the pair issued short, handwritten statements thanking fans for their undying support while continuing to maintain their innocence in spite of the convictions.

Kartel’s note said, “I would first like to again reiterate that I never killed Clive Williams nor did I order his killing. To my family I want to say thank you for being there for me. Equally to my fans whose unremitting support matters to me! Bless, Kartel.”

Shawn Storm offered similar sentiments to his supporters.

“To the fans and fams I am an innocent man and I am just saying I am good and in great health and spirit,” he said. “So from me to the fans and ma fams and my mother, daughter and family I am confident that in the long run I will be vindicated.”

Meanwhile, voice notes used as evidence against Kartel and his co-accused were released to Jamaican media on Friday, telling a damning tale of the events leading up to August 2011 murder of Williams. In said voice notes, which can be heard in their entirety here, Kartel continuously references the disappearance of ‘shoes,’ a code word for guns, according to testimony from the Crown’s main witness, Lamar Chow. An agitated Kartel can be heard threatening that if Chow or Williams did not find said ‘shoes’ by nightfall, one or both could face fatal consequences.

Additionally, the Police High Command issued a statement lauding the work done by law enforcement in the case while revealing the challenges encountered during the trial, detailing accusations of witness tampering, death threats, obeah ritualism and attempts to pervert the course of justice. The full statement can be read here.

Kartel, along with two others, faces an Aug. 11 court date, facing two conspiracy charges in relation to the Williams case.


Vybz Kartel sentenced to life in prison for murder

Dancehall superstar, Vybz Kartel and three of his co-accused have been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Clive 'Lizard' Willaimsby Jodee Brown

Controversial Dancehall superstar, Adidja Palmer, more popularly known as Vybz Kartel has been sentenced to life in prison for the August 2011 murder of St. Catherine-based dancer, Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams following a hearing in the Home Circuit Court in Kingston on Thursday.

The deejay will not be eligible for parole for the first 35 years of his prison term, when he is 73 years old. His co-accused, Shawn ‘Shawn Storm’ Campbell, Kahira Jones and Andre ‘Mad Suss’ St. John were also sentenced to life in prison, with the men not eligible for parole until 25, 25 and 30 years into their respective sentences, handed down by Supreme Court justice, Lennox Campbell.

Kartel was decked out in a full white suit and white shirt as he appeared cool and calm upon waiting for the judge’s ruling. Similar to last week’s hearing, the deejay maintained his innocence before the court, saying, through his lawyers, that he would not beg for mercy and accept the punishment handed down.

Justice Campbell that made a summation, saying there was premeditation and planning about the murder, while saying there was much distress for the family of the deceased Williams. He then handed down the sentences shortly before 11:30 a.m. Jamaican time.

Kartel’s legal team has indicated they will appeal his murder conviction before the end of this year.

Part of downtown Kingston was blocked a group of his loyal supporters gathered outside the courthouse, expressing anger and dismay at the sentencing, with some expressing uncontrollable sadness.