The greatest show on earth

The internationally acclaimed Sumfest happened last weekend, right here in lil ol’ Mobay. We had Trey ladies-keep-your-panties-on Songz and Damian sexiest-rasta-alive Marley headlining the two international nights, though I hear Shabba Ranks stole the show on Friday night. Not that I’m entirely certain who Shabba Ranks is. . .

Reggae Sumfest has origins way back before I was a twinkle in my mother’s eye when it started out as Reggae

I Need a Girl (Trey Songz song)

Sunsplash, an annual festival of Jamaican music that everyone in my parents’ generation likes to bring up as their version of “back when music was actually good”. But my point is that Sumfest has been around for a while, and judging by the consistently insane crowds it draws, it will probably be around for a while longer. Which is a good thing, because I have never been to Sumfest.

It’s kind of sad, really. It happens almost literally in my backyard every year, and every year it comes, I wave, and it passes on its merry, memorable way. It’s a quintessential Jamaican, nay, Montegonian experience that I have yet to acquire. That is a travesty. At first I was too young to go to Sumfest and then as I grew older, I grew less interested in the artistes that were actually showing up. I mean, you wouldn’t catch me dead at Dancehall Night (no offense, but there’s no way I’m paying almost $8000 just to bend over and back it up). And there was this whole phase where I swore off concerts unless a rock band was involved. I’m serious; I joined the Facebook group to prove it.

As Raw As Ever

So Sumfest continues to be marketed as the greatest show on earth, with that iconic symbol of a dancing Rasta (that may or may not be Robert Nesta) pushing its brand beyond local borders. It’s one in a long list of things that keep Jamaica being the leading Caribbean destination (sorry, other touristy islands) and keep Montego Bay being one seriously awesome second city. So what if I haven’t been to Sumfest once in the twenty years I’ve been alive? Maybe I’ll go the year they finally get Fall Out Boy as headliners.

Pax.

well read robyn

The internationally acclaimed Sumfest happened last weekend, right here in lil ol’ Mobay. We had Trey ladies-keep-your-panties-on Songz and Damian sexiest-rasta-alive Marley headlining the two international nights, though I hear Shabba Ranks stole the show on Friday night. Not that I’m entirely certain who Shabba Ranks is. . .

Reggae Sumfest has origins way back before I was a twinkle in my mother’s eye when it started out as Reggae Sunsplash, an annual festival of Jamaican music that everyone in my parents’ generation likes to bring up as their version of “back when music was actually good”. But my point is that Sumfest has been around for a while, and judging by the consistently insane crowds it draws, it will probably be around for a while longer. Which is a good thing, because I have never been to Sumfest.

It’s kind of sad, really. It happens almost literally in…

View original post 213 more words

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the skatalites

The History and Influence of Jamaican Music

This is an old but interesting article from 2012 on the trajectory of Jamaican music, starting with mento and ska, then the reggae greats, and finally their influence on modern rhythms, such as dancehall, reggaeton, trip-hop, and dubstep.

[It is] impossible to quantify the remarkable impact the island has had on global culture, thanks in large part to a legacy of musical innovation stretching back over 50 years. Without Jamaica, the world would never have known the sounds of ska, reggae or even hip-hop, all of which were born on this tiny island in the West Indies.

THE ROOTS: Though most people associate the island with the laid-back rhythms of reggae, Jamaica’s first major musical movement was the more uptempo sound of ska. Combining elements of Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz and rhythm & blues, ska arose in the wake of American soldiers stationed in Jamaica during and after World War II, and its celebratory sound coincided with Jamaica’s independence from the UK in 1962. Early acts such as The Skatalites and The Wailers remain legends today, influencing ‘80s acts such as Madness, The Specials and English Beat and ‘90s icons such as Sublime, No Doubt and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. But by the late ‘60s, as American soul music was becoming slower and smoother, ska began to evolve into reggae, whose central themes of peace, love, justice and equality mirrored the ideals of the American counter-cultural movement of the same era.

THE HEART: The dawn of reggae found Jamaican music spreading throughout the world, with Bob Marley & the Wailers leading the charge. With lyrics that balanced sociopolitical discourse, religious themes and messages of love and positivity, songs such as “Get Up, Stand Up” and “I Shot the Sheriff” made them international superstars (particularly after the latter was covered by Eric Clapton in 1974). But they weren’t the only Jamaican artists to break out: Acts such as ex-Wailer Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff, Burning Spear, Black Uhuru and Culture all emerged as stars on the global stage. Wailers producer Lee “Scratch” Perry was chosen to work with British punk legends The Clash, while British bands such as The Police and Steel Pulse proved reggae’s influence was spreading far beyond Jamaica’s borders. In 1985, the Grammy Awards introduced a Best Reggae Album category, signaling the Jamaican sound’s firm place in the mainstream….

THE BRANCHES: While the influence of ska and reggae cannot be overstated, it was another Jamaican music sub-genre that ultimately changed the world. Popularized by production wizards such as Lee “Scratch” Perry and Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff, Burning Spear, Black Uhuru and Culture is a largely instrumental version of reggae originally used to test sound systems. To hype the crowds at the parties and nightclubs where the DJs performed, they would get on the microphone and “toast” in hip rhyming patterns. When Kingston native Clive “DJ Kool Herc” Campbell moved to the Bronx, his legendary parties gave birth to the sound now known as hip-hop, influencing practically every DJ and MC that followed. In recent years a bevy of popular musical forms have evolved out of Jamaican styles, including dancehall, reggaeton and trip-hop. Whether it’s Bob’s son Ziggy Marley singing the theme song to the children’s TV show Arthur, pop star Sean Kingston or the techno hybrid known as dubstep, these days Jamaican music is everywhere, ensuring the little island will continue to be a big influence for many years to come.

Read more at The History and Influence of Jamaican Music

Repeating Islands

theskatalites

This is an old but interesting article from 2012 on the trajectory of Jamaican music, starting with mento and ska, then the reggae greats, and finally their influence on modern rhythms, such as dancehall, reggaeton, trip-hop, and dubstep. Here are excerpts from Bret Love’s assessment of the influence of Jamaican music.

[It is] impossible to quantify the remarkable impact the island has had on global culture, thanks in large part to a legacy of musical innovation stretching back over 50 years. Without Jamaica, the world would never have known the sounds of ska, reggae or even hip-hop, all of which were born on this tiny island in the West Indies.

THE ROOTS: Though most people associate the island with the laid-back rhythms of reggae, Jamaica’s first major musical movement was the more uptempo sound of ska. Combining elements of Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz and rhythm & blues, ska arose in the wake…

View original post 537 more words

Jamaican Reggae Music: An Ode to Bob Marley (List of all Bob Marley’s Albums)

By: Denise N. Fyffe. Copyright © 2012, Poetess Defy, Denise Fyffe The name Jamaica is synonymous with Bob Marley, and vice versa. Jamaican Reggae Music is at the stage it is today because of this man and his efforts. Even today his album's are successful and new compilations are released by the Marley family, regularly. … Continue reading Jamaican Reggae Music: An Ode to Bob Marley (List of all Bob Marley’s Albums)

A Death by Skin Cancer? The Bob Marley Story

Dr Cleland Gooding MD., F.A.A.D., a physician with a specialty in Skin Diseases employed by the Bahamas Government, has penned this intriguing article about Bob Marley’s failed treatment for skin cancer, which eventually progressed to the brain cancer responsible for his death at 36.

Here are excerpts, with a link to the original article below.

Bob Marley the charismatic beloved Jamaican singer, who introduced Reggae infused with Rastafarian themes died from a cancerous brain Tumor on May 11, 1981, in Miami. Florida.

He was only 36 years old.

It’s been 30 years since his death, and there have many rumors and speculation about the cause of death.

Did he really die from a brain tumor? Or other nefarious causes? Like the CIA? Poison in his boots etc?

Bob Marley’s medical records were never made public.

However, from several sources, I managed to piece together the story of his illness and death from Metastatic Skin cancer (Melanoma). This account I hope is fair, balanced and enlightening.

Bob Marley remains the most widely known and revered performer of reggae music and is credited with spreading Jamaican and the Rastafarian movement worldwide.

When was the first indication that something was amiss with Bob Marley’s health?

According to sources this first happened in the summer of 1977.

He injured his right great toe during a Soccer game on tour in Paris, France. The toe nail became partially detached and painful. He admitted to his manager that the toe had been injured before and a wound was “on and off” for years!

If that was true, could a malignant melanoma (skin cancer) been growing there earlier?

A wound or sore that refuses to heal is a classic sign of skin cancer.

The hotel doctor was consulted and the right great toe nail was removed and the toe bandaged.

No biopsy was done.

The European tour continued and the Right great toe appeared to heal. However, later that summer he hurt the toe again playing soccer. It was painful and a new wound opened up and refused to heal.

As Bob Marley went to London for a meeting, late that summer (1977), his manager advised him to see a doctor.

According to reports the appearance of his toe shocked the Doctor. It was said to be “eating away”. A skin biopsy was done (removal of skin tissue for examination under the microscope).

The shocking diagnosis of malignant melanoma (Skin cancer) was given to Bob Marley.

He was advised that treatment would be to amputate the toe, to stop the cancer from spreading.

In Miami still in the summer 1977, the British diagnosis of malignant melanoma was confirmed to Bob Marley again. He was advised to get the toe amputated and possibly the right foot.

Again he refused.

Why didn’t Bob Marley have the amputation?

He cited religious beliefs about “not cutting the flesh”.

However, he allowed the famous orthopedic surgeon Dr. William Bacon to do a surgical excision to “cut away” cancerous tissue on the toe and do a skin graft at Cedar’s of Lebanon Hospital (now University of Miami Hospital). He remained in Hospital one week and spent about three months recuperating in Miami.

The procedure was deemed “a success”. But sadly it was not. Cancer in its virulent form began to spread through his body (metastasized).

This brings the question, why would Bob Marley get skin cancer on his toe?

First, we must remember that Bob was diagnosed with an Acral Melanoma.

This type accounts for 70 percent of melanoma in darkly pigmented individual or Asians. It typically occurs on non-sun exposed areas as the palm, the sole and mucosa and under the nails. It is characterised by a dark mole or spot that can turn cancerous.

This can happen by repeated trauma to the area or for no reason at all.

Studies have shown that darker skin people are more likely to present with advanced disease stage III -IV than whites who typically appear with stage I. This is exactly what happened in Mr. Marley’s case.

He presented with a skin cancer stage 3-4 on his toe.

He also was fair-skinned of a white father. Being fair-skinned is a risk factor for skin cancer. Melanoma can take years to spread. Most likely he had a pigmented dark mole under his right great toe nail, the continued playing of soccer traumatized the dark mole, which turned cancerous then into a sore.

When his cancer was discovered (summer of 1977) the recommendation to amputate his toe would most certainly have saved his life. The surgical excision done and the skin graft (July 1977) was ineffective or simply too late.

As the years went by, his health was deteriorating. He continued to be immersed in his music. In 1976 there was an attempt on his life in Jamaica, Mr. Marley narrowly escaped death, He, his wife and manager Don Taylor were shot.

Among the Doctors attending, them was a prominent Bahamian doctor Dr. Philip Thompson who was attending U.W.I. at the time.

In 1979, Bob Marley visited Nassau, The trip was opposed by some religious ministers.

It does not appear that he followed up on his doctor’s visits.

All appeared well until 1980. He released his last album “Uprising” and the band, the Wailers were planning an American tour with Stevie Wonder for the winter of 1980.

However, by the summer of 1980, the cancer was metastasizing through his body. According to sources, he did not feel well and saw a doctor who gives him clearance to go on tour!

The tour started in Boston followed by New York in September 1980.

During the show in New York in Madison Square Gardens Bob looked sick and almost fainted.

The very next morning September 21 while jogging through Central Park Bob Marley collapsed and was brought to a hospital. Tests showed a brain tumor, which most likely had spread from primary cancer on his right great toe.

The cancer was now spreading to his vital organs.

How does a malignant melanoma spread?

It is generally agreed that melanoma cells spread via the lymphatic, the bloodstream or both. Then it can affect the liver, the lungs, the brain or the bones.

A neurologist gave him one month to live. Rita Marley is said to have wanted the remaining tour canceled, but Bob wanted to continue. He played his last show in Pittsburgh but was too ill to continue and the tour was finally canceled.

That show proved to be his last.

Convinced at last to seek medical treatment, Bob was admitted to Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan NY.

This center is one of the world’s leading cancer treatment center.

Tests then revealed the malignant melanoma cancer had spread to his lungs and liver. He received a few radiation treatments but checked out when some New York papers let on that he was seriously ill.

He went to Miami, then back to Sloan-Kettering, then Jamaica.

Why the back and forth? Some said he hadn’t much faith in “Western Medicine”.

He was advised to seek further help in Germany.

Bob and his entourage then traveled to Germany to the Bavarian Clinic of Dr. Josef Issels.

He was a specialist in Holistics, or Toxic cancer treatment. Why leave a world-renowned cancer treatment center like Sloan-Kettering to go to a holistic center?

That is a mystery to me.

While in Germany Bob Marley celebrated his 36th and final birthday. While at the center in Germany Bob Marley received such treatments as exercise, ozone injections, vitamins and trace elements.

However, as the months went by, he realized that these treatments were not working and his cancer was terminal.

 

Repeating Islands

Dr Cleland Gooding MD., F.A.A.D., a physician with a specialty in Skin Diseases employed by the Bahamas Government, has penned this intriguing article about Bob Marley’s failed treatment for skin cancer, which eventually progressed to the brain cancer responsible for his death at 36. Here are excerpts, with a link to the original article below.

Bob Marley the charismatic beloved Jamaican singer, who introduced reggae infused with Rastafarian themes died from a cancerous brain Tumor on May 11, 1981 in Miami. Florida. He was only 36 years old.

It’s been 30 years since his death; and there have many rumours and speculation about the cause of death. Did he really die from a brain tumor? Or other nefarious causes? Like the CIA? Poison in his boots etc? Bob Marley’s medical records were never made public. However from several sources I managed to piece together the story of his illness and…

View original post 1,422 more words

What Miss Jamaica, Kaci Fennel Missed

Reblogged from http://underthesaltireflag.com/

This is an introspective piece posted by Kei Miller

And so it happened, the extraordinarily beautiful and humble Kaci Fennell, Jamaica’s contestant in Donald Trump’s intergalactic pageant, was not, in the end, crowned Miss Universe. She came fifth. The crowd in Miami booed. To tell the truth, they went ape-shit! ‘Ms Jamaica’ trended across America’s twittosphere for hours – and at #1 at that – oh the irony! At home, Jamaicans cried ‘racism’; they cried ‘block de road!’; they cried, ‘give me one of those Bain placards we not using anymore, cross out de name ‘Bain’, and put ‘Kaci’ instead! We want Justice!’ It was high drama. Even the other contestants flocked around the Caribbean beauty, commiserating her 5th place, instead of flocking around the unpopular winner, Ms Colombia, to offer due congratulations.

My own misgivings about beauty pageants have been made public before. They remain the same. Pageants help to establish very dangerous standards of beauty for girls,  and in Jamaica it is all the more dangerous and soul destroying as those standards are racialized.  It is no secret that most Ms. Jamaica contestants and, ergo, Ms Jamaica winners, have been light-skinned with relatively straight hair.  Some people insist it is a celebration of our motto, but if Ms. Jamaica is a celebration of  ‘Out of Many’ it is at the expense of celebrating, more simply, the ‘Many’. Still, I have friends who participate in one way or another in the whole shebang and even on this very blog, former contestants have defended Ms. Jamaica competitions – the grooming, coaching, and various lessons they received – testifying how it helped to transform them into ‘ladies’. I haven’t had the heart to say – and that’s exactly my problem! For many people the word ‘lady’ is a neutral one; for me it is too obviously embedded in ideas of British aristocracy. Lords and Ladies.  To be happily transformed into a lady suggests that one was a beast or a savage before or at the very least, one was an insufficient version of some kind of female humanoid that desperately needed to be exalted into Lady-ness.

GeorgieI’ve never liked the word – ‘Lady’ – whether used as a compliment or a reprimand or even neutrally. It has always felt repulsively classist to my ear. I secretly cringe whenever it is used. In Jamaica, I occasionally hear teachers reprimanding a class of girls with a sharp, ‘LADIES!’ and this word, said like that, wielded as sharp as a whip, is supposed to call the young women towards some appropriate version of themselves, something better that is expected of them. Beauty pageants extend the problematics of this word as contestants first try to prove themselves to be ‘ladies’ and then, having done that, to climb further up the aristocratic ladder and become princesses or queens.

But I am, if nothing else, a bandwagonist, and social media’s enthusiasm over the prospects of Kaci Fennell made me, despite all my misgivings, tune in. Having seen the pictures and videos, how could  one deny it? The young woman really was stunning. By a clear mile (following certain problematic standards, of course) she was the most beautiful of the top ten. It was little wonder that so many wanted her to win.

As I watched the competition in the wee hours of Monday morning (British time) I couldn’t help but think of Lisa lisahannaHanna competing in the Miss World competition of 1993. This was, of course, a time before social media. In fact, there was hardly any internet to speak of…except the kind you dialled up and waited and waited for it to connect. There was no huge media buzz about Lisa Hanna’s prospects; there certainly was no facebook fan page, no instagram, no nothing. We tuned in to watch, because – well – you never know…

We whooped with surprise and delight when Lisa was actually called in the top 10; we whooped even more when they announced she was in the top 5. And then magic happened – the interview section. Jamaicans knew what was coming all along and we could hardly believe our luck. We knew Lisa Hanna from the CTPC  programme ’Rapping’. She was a bright, young woman, eloquent, sharp and with a voice like silk. She could handle this.

Our hearts fluttered a little when Ms Philippines and then Ms South Africa answered their own questions with great sophistication and fluency – Ms South Africa in particular was playing to a home crowd. Oh God! This was going to be tight.  Lisa Hanna picked ‘Grace Jones’ out of the hat. Was this a good  omen? She had picked a fellow Jamaican. But Grace Jones proceeded to ask the most rambling and incoherent question of the night. Oh shit. She had sold out Lisa!

GraceJones

But bless Lisa Hanna – for as it is written in the book of Isaiah, [s]he will make a way where there seems to be no way, and Hanna went on to make sense where there had only been nonsense. She answered the question with ease, conviction, good humour and humility. The South African audience was in shock and in Jamaica our collective mouths dropped, for we realized even then that she had just won the whole thing.

LisaHanna1

The exact opposite happened on Sunday night. We whooped when Kaci was called into the top ten; whooped when she was called into the top 5.

And then came the questions. We were secretly delighted as contestant after contestant fuddled their answers. Dunce vagueness after dunce vagueness. Yes Kaci, we thought. You have this one! Then she answered her questions and our collective hearts dropped as we realized she had just lost the whole thing. Miss Jamaica had missed a trick.

KaciFentop5We talk about the politics of race in Jamaican beauty pageants but maybe we need to talk about the politics of class, the politics of accent – this strange idea we have that anyone who speaks with an upper St Andrew ease is of course bright and eloquent. Kaci Fennell doesn’t appear to be a fool by a long stretch, but she was no Lisa Hanna, and no Yendi Phillips either (who placed second in Miss Universe).  Is it any wonder that our beauty queens who have done well have also been television personalities who have a certain ease and manner in front of an audience, who know how to be sharp in answering questions, and who aren’t frightened so easily?

On Twitter many rushed to Kaci’s defense: Oh god man, she did nervous! Poor ting! You wouldn’t  nervous too? 

Others cried ‘racism’! This, to my mind, was Kaci’s greatest achievement, that though she hardly looked different to the other contestants, and though in Jamaica she would never have been described as black, in the moment of her loss she slipped out of the ‘out of many’ and became one of the ‘many’ and we took umbrage on her behalf. Strange, how loss can alter someone’s race.

For the Jamaicans actually able to admit disappointment — not in the system but in Kaci herself, sweet as she was — they would say they were more disappointed by her second answer. The question had come: ‘What would you say is your country’s greatest contribution to the world?’ And Kaci answered Bob Marley and Usain Bolt! And then she grinned and all but ran back to her fifth place. Jamaicans have protested the lack of originality or insight in this answer. They also insist, but we’ve contributed so much more! What about Marcus Garvey? What about the Maroons who helped to win us our freedom? (Yes..someone on facebook really said that. Some people desperately need more thorough history lessons, but that is not for now).

bobmarley-marriot

Myself, I thought her answer was actually ok for the occasion. I mean seriously, no one was looking for a thesis or a grand history lesson. Still, she might have taken a breath and expanded on it just a little. She might have said something like, ‘You know…it’s the way Usain Bolt and Bob Marley have become more than Jamaicans. They’ve given all of us across the world this sense of joy and of ‘One Love’. And that’s what I want to do as Miss Universe, to be more than just Miss Jamaica but an ambassador of joy and one love for everyone. Thank you.’ Yes, I think something like that might have gotten her closer to the crown.

But maybe the damage by then was done already by her first answer. This was the one that disappointed me more. A judge asked about the terrible statistics of domestic abuse against women and what could  be done to stop the trend. Kaci didn’t even answer the question. She said something rather vague about violence being a problem everywhere and we need to curb it. But maybe if she had heard and understood and processed the actual question she might have answered something like this:

‘Across the world our boys are given really limiting models of the kinds of men they are allowed to be.  We teach our boys to be tough and aggressive but we need to give them other models, we need to teach them that there are many ways to be a man, and you definitely don’t  have to hit a woman or be violent to anyone in order to be masculine.’

And if she still had time in the mere 30 seconds, she might have even been more reflective and added, ‘Even here, even now, as beauty queens, I think we have a great responsibility to teach our girls that this isn’t the only way to be a woman in the world. If this is the best that a woman can be, then I’m afraid we live in a wide universe that is far too limited.’

Under the Saltire Flag

KaciFen2

And so it happened, the extraordinarily beautiful and humble Kaci Fennell, Jamaica’s contestant in Donald Trump’s intergalactic pageant, was not, in the end, crowned Miss Universe. She came fifth. The crowd in Miami booed. To tell the truth, they went ape-shit! ‘Ms Jamaica’ trended across America’s twittosphere for hours – and at #1 at that – oh the irony! At home, Jamaicans cried ‘racism’; they cried ‘block de road!’; they cried, ‘give me one of those Bain placards we not using anymore, cross out de name ‘Bain’, and put ‘Kaci’ instead! We want Justice!’  It was high drama. Even the other contestants flocked around the Caribbean beauty, commiserating her 5th place, instead of flocking around the unpopular winner, Ms Colombia, to offer due congratulations.

KaciFen1

My own misgivings about beauty pageants have been made public before. They remain the same. Pageants help to establish very dangerous standards of beauty for…

View original post 1,481 more words

Jamaican Reggae Music: An Ode to Bob Marley (List of all Bob Marley’s Songs)

By: Denise N. Fyffe. Copyright © 2012, Poetess Defy, Denise Fyffe The legend, Bob Marley, is universally recognised of the greatest ambassador of Jamaican Reggae Music. His life, was so lived, to captain the ship called Reggae. Bob Marley did songs and released music before he became a rastafarian. He and several others, which included … Continue reading Jamaican Reggae Music: An Ode to Bob Marley (List of all Bob Marley’s Songs)