Reggae Stars

Luxury villas readied at Paradise Beach Nevis

Tiny Nevis, the smaller half of the twin-sland federation of St. Kitts and Nevis in the eastern Caribbean, will debut the island's only villa option located on the beach when Paradise Beach Nevis opens its doors on Jan. 15.

All-ages fun at Coconut Bay resort

With its four restaurants, six bars, five pools and mile-long beachfront, it would be easy to spend your entire vacation at the St. Lucia resort without leaving the grounds.

Great showing at Ghetto Splash

THE Waterhouse Mini Stadium in Drewsland, St Andrew, was transformed into a musical kaleidoscope with the staging of the Shocking Vibes and Downsound Records' Ghetto Splash on Tuesday night.

The event, which was free to the public, drew an estimated 10,000 patrons whose musical thirst was quenched by a long list of performers.

Promoter Patrick Roberts of Shocking Vibes Productions was pleased with the staging of the event.

"We want to thank all the entertainers who performed and all the patrons who came out to support Ghetto Splash. Shaggy, who came on during Agent Sasco's performance, said 'he had never envisioned a professional show of this magnitude in the ghetto'. It just goes to show the level of work that went into the event," Roberts told the Jamaica Observer.

In the early segment, singjay Jahmiel set the pace with a stirring performance which was only eclipsed by the seasoned Beetle Bailey, who kept patrons in check with his stage performance and demeanor.

The musical flames, however, got intense once Konshens, Agent Sasco aka Assassin, Aidonia, Sizzla, Popcaan and Beenie Man hit the stage. They whipped the crowd into a frenzy delivering the hits that made them stars.

Mr G, Tinga Stewart, Chi Ching Ching, Major Mackerel, Bugle, Richie Spice, Ishawna, Ninja Man, and Kip Rich also put in good sets much to the delight of the crowd.

With no reports of violence, the show ended at 5:50 am on Wednesday.

Among those who came out to support Ghetto Splash were Kingston Mayor Angela Brown-Burke, Deputy Mayor Andrew Swaby, businessman Gary Matalon, businessman Josef Bagdanovich, and representatives of sponsor WISYNCO.

Boney M makes Christmas classic

This is the fifth of the Jamaica Observer's daily 12-part series, 12 Days of Chrismus. The series ends on Christmas Day.

A JAMAICAN Christmas is incomplete without the sounds of Boney M's Mary's Boy Child -- Oh My Lord.

The catchy interpretation of this holiday classic has resonated with local audiences since its release in 1978, perhaps because two original members of Boney M were born in Jamaica. Elizabeth Rebecca 'Liz' Mitchell hails from Clarendon, while Marcia Barrett is from St Catherine.

The two were based in the United Kingdom when the group was formed in 1976. Boney M was completed by Maizie Williams and Bobby Farrell. The group achieved popularity during the disco era of the late 1970s with songs including By The Rivers of Babylon and Brown Girl in the Ring.

Mary's Boy Child also has another Jamaican connection.

The track was first recorded by American entertainer Harry Belafonte back in 1956, having heard it being performed by a choir. Belafonte's mother is Jamaican; he was born in New York, but spent his early years on the island.

It was one of the singles on his album An Evening with Belafonte. The single reached number one on the UK Singles Chart in November 1957 and was the first single to sell over one million copies in the UK alone. To date, Belafonte's version has sold over 1.18 million copes.

Boney M's version is a medley with the song Oh My Lord. Reports indicate that the song was recorded in November of 1978 and rushed to meet the holiday season.

The song topped the UK Singles Chart for four weeks and spent eight weeks on the charts. It was the second single for the group in the UK's all-time best selling singles list. The song was later included on the group's Christmas album which was released in 1981.

-- Richard Johnson

Saving the best for last

THE Behind the Scenes series held at Usain Bolt's Tracks & Records on Constant Spring Road came to a thunderous end with a 'surgical' performance from the 'doctor' Beenie Man on Tuesday night.

The seasoned veteran closed his nearly two-hour set by sharing the stage with current friend and long-time rival Bounty Killer, bringing the house down, as both rallied through the hits that made their careers.

"I've been in this business over 22 years now. From dem a sell 45 right up to MP3s. These songs will never die," Beenie Man said to the happy audience.

His fans poured into Tracks & Records from 10:00 pm, with only eyes for him. This made it difficult for the opening acts to gain any traction. Not even 2014 Magnum Queen Candy K could break the ice as the audience showed their indifference. It took a quick set from Future Fambo to put any visible signs of life into the venue.

Two hours of waiting, at the stroke of midnight, all was forgiven as Beenie Man took to the stage to overwhelming applause. A quick medley of his popular hits had the crowd singing along in delight. Beenie Man's extensive back catalogue meant there was more than enough ammunition to keep the spotlight on himself, but he reached deep into the versatility his fans adore him for.

Mid-show, he provided his own retrospective on his back-and-forth with Bounty Killer, not only singing unforgettables like Memories, but doing Bounty Killer impersona-tions. This was only a hint of things to come. His singular energy was stopped for two only brief moments when he brought Chi Ching Ching for their collaboration Way Up Stay Up and Future Fambo to do I'm Drinking.

In the closing moments, the tease was over and Bounty Killer joined on Beenie Man on stage for Legendary. Claiming he wasn't going to do just one song, both men thrilled the fans to the last minute, providing a chronological rendition of the songs in a rivalry that defined a generation of dancehall.

Jo-Ann Richards keeping it local

GOSPEL singer Jo-Ann Richards launched her latest music video, Notn no De, at Calvary Gospel Assembly in St Andrew, earlier this week.

The single is taken from her 12-track album Kom Mek Wi Worship (2012). The set, done in Jamaican patois, is co-produced by Sheldon Bernard and Courick Clarke.

"I hope to encourage people to sing songs to God in our own language. I want Jamaicans to embrace their own identity in worship," Richards told the Jamaica Observer.

The singer, who is head of the Music and Media Department at Jamaica Theological College in St Andrew, said the inspiration for a dialect album came while serving as a missionary ethnomusicologist with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Africa.

"I was helping people from other countries to develop songs for worship in their native languages and I realised that we in Jamaica were not doing that," she said.

According to Richards, Kom Mek Wi Worship was synchronicised to be released during Reggae Month and Jamaica's 50th Independence celebrations.

"This new venture has been awe-inspiring and fulfilling, taking my ministry into a new sphere. I strongly believe that authentic worship must take place through culturally relevant expressions, so it is my desire that Jamaicans and those who love the Jamaican culture will be happy to add these songs to their worship repertoire," said Richards.

"I love my culture, and being able to share in song, and now videos, means that I can celebrate and connect with my fellow Jamaicans, share their stories, and help them to feel proud of who we are, and to connect with God on any level, with confidence."

Tour operators diversifying Cuba offerings

As interest in the people-to-people educational programs continues to grow, so, too, does the field of tour operators that are licensed and authorized to offer these specialized programs.

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