876ICONS MUSIC & ACTING – PETER LLOYD

peter4As I began to write this post i was thinking of appropriate words to begin this interview and the one that jumps to me within a heartbeat is the quote by Martin Luther King Jr.  Here’s the quote:

‘If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted…or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, “here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well..” Martin Luther King.

Peter Lloyd is no street sweeper. He is no philosopher, neither is he a politician or even a great scholar. Peter is only a soft spoken singer, actor, director and producer who has allowed his work to do all the shouting and from the mountain top they shout, shouting out to the world  echoing the words of Martin Luther…

“here lives a great singer, actor, director and producer who is doing his job well, very very well”.

Peter LloydTo say that Peter has talent is probably the greatest understatement to be written. From an early age Peter took the gifts granted to him by his creator and exposed it to the world and the world was pleased. Peter has remained true to his gift, honing and nurturing his talent , always listening and learning. Bundled in this immense treasure cove of talent is the one trait that so many artists similar to him fail to master and fail the ultimate test and that is humility. Humility is the engine that drives success and Peter owns this. He is supremely humble and that is the secret to his success.

…”the act of kindness does not have to be extravagant, but can be something like helping a blind man cross the road. “It’s simple, nothing elaborate … getting us back to the Jamaica that still exists at the core. I want to genuinely contribute to my country. I thought this would be a way to inspire people. I want to do this every birthday,” Peter Lloyd.

A prophet is never accepted in his homeland, a phrase used so often it is a fervent trusim. Bob Marley is proof of this and in a way so too is Peter. Peter like Bob has a good share of local fans but say the word Peter Lloyd anywhere in Europe and their face lights up like a candle. Say the same two words to a group of youngsters in Jamaica and they give you that look of who or what are you talking about? His recent single ‘Blood on your Hands”  has over 1 million views on YouTube  and has attained the number one spot in JAMAICA, NEW YORK, ATLANTA, GERMANY, FRANCE, CANADA and RUSSIA.

Peter’s acting talent makes him the best live performer in the music industry, bar none. He is so good with a live audience he is often brought back for encores repeatedly and incessantly.

peter2

He remains true to his culture. He writes and performs Jamaican culture and his live performances are a lesson on Jamaican heritage and history of reggae music, often giving his audience facts and information that leaves them in awe. Tourists are unusual creatures believing that reggae started and ended with Bob Marley. Peter Lloyd’s showcase proves that fallacy unfounded and unsound. He gives his audience a lesson of reggae musicality and origins they scream for more. How do I know this? I was there. I am always at his shows, especially when he performs on the North coast hotel circuit. He finds his greatest happiness when he is on stage, not just pleasing the listening ear with his melodies, but engaging and creating the idyllic scene of his homeland Jamaica where he is from and where his music is king. He is a brand, Brand Jamaica.

,….”I am a positivist. I believe that an artiste should make people feel better. That’s what I believe, my personality. I strive to improve the world in any way I can to make people feel a little better.” Peter Lloyd on his performance.

A positivist he is.  With his knowledge and music he leaves his audience, locally and internationally with information derived from musical  treatments, creating a deep sensory experience, one that drives them to want more, learn more, feel more, do more and hopefully visit the land of reggae. What more can you ask of an artiste? What more can you ask of a Jamaican living his existence through his music and expressing it with love?

On his blog I want to share a quote he said on love…

“…knowing you are loved and giving love for me creates a state of emotional security that is needed by all of us to attain our true greatness. Love is the key ingredient in achieving success….success must be multidimensional in its scope if success is to be both attained and enjoyed..” Peter Lloyd.

peter3

 

 

Love is the fertiliser of all possibilities. Peter has found it and he is living it. His music, through love, fertilises all of his life’s work amounting to untethered success, a success that not only shines as glittering gold, but one that screams on the mountain top “…Here is a good and faithful servant of Jamaica. Listen to him when he speaks.”  This is Peter Lloyd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The interview:

1. Model, actor, dancer, singer, artist , chef, television personality.  Is there anything I have left off? 

Yes you neglected the most important things to me. These are Father ; Positivist ; Vegan ; Lover and respecter of ALL life ; Humanitarian ; Proud Jamaican & Rastafarian. Those other titles are important but they are informed by my core personality. The above titles are who I am. They are what defines me as  person.

2. You have done every artistic discipline, worked with major actors and singers and yet you are as humble as they come. Why is that?

The truth is I don’t believe I am humble enough. I think the ego can destroy us if we feed it. I am obsessed with wisdom. Wisdom informs us of our limitations. It teaches us that we never stop learning so humility I think is a natural byproduct  of this pursuit. Also you quickly learn what both my mother and father taught me “no man is an island, no man stands alone”. Success in any pursuit cannot be obtained without the kindness and assistance of others.

3. Many people in the business do not have the resume you possess and you are still writing it as we speak. When do you stop?

I have too much left to learn and hopefully so much knowledge to share that I don’t think you stop. If that happens it is when Jah Jah calls me home. I don’t believe I have achieved very much. I am humbled by the accomplishments I have attained but I have a need to challenge myself to push the boundaries and at times to break the rules. I have this amazing team of persons around me who keeps pushing me onward and upward, and I also must demonstrate to others that you must never be afraid of striving for your dreams regardless of your situation or the opinions of others. So I will never stop.

4. You have referred to yourself as the ‘love messenger’ exactly what does that mean?

Well first of all I never referred to myself as such. A writer in Germany, Karsten Frehe, doing a piece on me for Riddim Magazine was the first to use the phrase to describe me, my fans across the world very quickly adopted the phrase hence the origins of the phrase. Love Messenger simply means my purpose is to improve the human condition, to make us happier, to reinforce our self esteem with a microphone in my hand. When you hear my music, read my blogs or attend my shows you must feel better for doing so. Life has enough challenges. My aim is to make people happy.

5. Do you consider yourself a Reggae Artiste first or an Actor turned reggae performer?

I am an artist, multidimensional with the drive and work ethic to be the best I can be. I love the freedom of writing my own material as a songwriter ( I have even written for others including the late Gregory The Cool Ruler Isaac song title Mr Sweetness ). As a recording artist you have greater autonomy, much more artistic freedom. Actors are mouthpieces, limited freedom but I love both forms of expression equally. For me, actors must be employed, recording artist create their own employment.

6. You are very good at everything you do. What’s your secret?

That’s a great thought, but I really am NOT very good at everything. My goal is earn that mantra some day. I think the secret is the willingness to work both hard and smart, to be relentless in your pursuits, to ignore and avoid the negative as well as negative persons, inform yourself of the industry you are in, have a clearly defined idea of your path, never forget the importance of acknowledging  the help of others in your journey to your personal greatness, avoid your own ego and above all else LOVE WHAT YOU DO. Also embrace your weaknesses in your craft and work at self improvement.

7. You have 2 daughters are they like you in any way? 

I avoid discussing them primarily because they need the space to evolve freely and without interference. So next question please.

8. Fair enough. You are dedicated to the  culture of Jamaica in that when you perform its Jamaica you sell, its music and culture. It makes your performance different and appreciated. Was this a personal choice just to be different in the crowd?

Not really a personal choice. It is really simply who I am. I am VERY different as a man, and as a artist. You are at your best when you know who you are, when you embrace that person and allow your art form to be informed by your core personality. Look, I LOVE BEING JAMAICAN,  I love sharing this rich resilient culture and people with the world. Being Jamaican has assisted in the creation of who I am plus it’s cool as ” r..s” lol. Brand Jamaica is NOT being exploited in a really way. Our brand can make us a truly wealthy nation. I am merely a man unable to affect the decisions of our illustrious industry leaders and politicians, so I elevate our amazing brand proudly in the hope that it makes a positive difference.

9. You have faced challenges in the  industry, which one has had a lasting impression on you so far?

Both my Mom and Dad told me growing up, ” opinions are like assholes, everyone has one”, so the challenges I faced only served to inform me, others were either, misinformed about me, intimidated by me, had my best interest at heart and that I definitely was on the right path to success and happiness. I believe in our freedom of self expression but have never much cared about the opinions of others particularly if those opinions were uninformed and if my gut told me that person or those persons did not wish me well. Like any muscle resistance makes you stronger. My journey has been awesome. I do not believe any particular challenge was enough to leave a lasting impression.

10. Did you see yourself where you are today 20 years ago?

Yes, I literally did. Our mind has the ability to create the “self fulfilling prophecy”. What we think and say we give it life. In essence we are the sum total of our thoughts. My parents, teachers and mentors all taught me this from my formative years. I have and continue to visualize my accomplishments daily and when in doubt , I turn to the many positive remarkable persons in my support group.

11. You are from a generation where making a living in the entertainment industry was far from a reality especially someone from Jamaica. What happened to you to make it possible?

I took the time and patience to learn not just my craft but the “business” of the industry. Also I listened to the advice of the veterans and icons. I read voraciously and try to be practical in my approach. Less “hype” and more information. Less talking and more action. Also I live BELOW  my means.

12. Where do you get the  inspiration from to write your music?

I try to tell stories. I tell my own stories or those of the persons I interact with. Occasionally I just get a hook and then construct the entire song from that.

13. What movie you did that changed your life the most?

Walt Disney’s Return To Treasure Island which was a Twenty ( 20 ) part mini series in which I starred as a lead character Abel. It was my very first film role. It introduced me to the world of film making and gave me my first real taste of international stardom. It also informed me that I could earn a living from the arts. Finally it catapulted me into the spotlight as an actor and led to many major film roles.

14. Actors sometimes speak about how tough it is to leave certain roles behind after they’ve played them. How do you experience jumping from character to character?

Yes I have heard that but honestly never experienced it. Very early on my mentor Leonie Forbes taught me how to become immersed into the character but she also taught me how to emerge from the character without losing my essence. Every character you play however must be infused with aspects of who you are as a person and therefore each character remains with you for always, creating a internal library to draw on for future parts.

15. What do you look for in a role to accept it ?

If I can’t empathize with the character on a personal level then it makes little or no sense to play him.

16. Is it fair to say you are more popular in Europe than in Jamaica and if yes why is that?

It’s not. My fans are everywhere including Jamaica.

17. People change. You have changed. How do you affect change in other people?

You inform and allow them the opportunity to choose that change. Truth is, as living beings we have no choice but to evolve. What is relevant is affecting POSITIVE change. But positive change needs patience love and understanding. The many layers to this starts with information, expanding that persons view to that of a world view. Knowledge is one of the fundamental pillars for affecting lasting positive change in any person nation or company.

18. Will it be your music or your acting that you think will have the most impact on your fans?

My music.

19. If you could leave a parting word, phrase or sentence to be used on your headstone what would it be?

Never let anyone tell you that you are not special. Never let anyone tell you that your dreams can never be achieved.

© 876icons 2014.

876icons Fashion – ALTHEA LAING

althea-laing

Althea Laing Jamaica’s first Super Model

“Race problems are not only on the international circuit but also here at home”…Althea Laing

In 1985 the modelling industry was not as diversified as it is today. The standard of beauty was defined as blonde or brunette, chiseled cheekbones and the classic European look. Of the ten listed supermodels of the 80’s era, 8 were white, 2 were of darker hue, Iman and Karen Alexander. The odds were not in favor of  darker skins and add to that someone from an unknown corner of the globe, the Caribbean, it was even more remote.

Althea Laing, tall, elegant and intelligent had three things against her: her skin color, her location and her age. She was 28 at the time, an age no fashion house would even consider for a go see. She was from Jamaica, an island only associated with fun in the sun and an exotic location for fashion shoots and most importantly she was dark, and not just dark,  but too dark for industry standards.  It was precisely those reasons that she embarked on her journey into the fashion industry.

With friends and mentor  Weston Haughton, she entered the Miss Jamaica Fashion model contest and won. Now placing herself on the industry runway, she had no time for fears or what ifs.  She was in the spotlight , and she had to perform despite the glaring lights of subtle racism and unwanted favors that were associated in the industry. It was not easy.

Laing on the cover of Essence

Laing on the cover of Essence

She had many of those callous and cold favors thrown in her face, but her strong belief in her abilities and her  undaunted strength said NO. That one word propelled her not only for her natural talent but for what she believed in and stood for. She would be hired for her ability or not at all. In the end she won.  In 1985 when Jamaica woke up to the Gleaner headlines that one of our girls was the face of Essence Magazine, it was equal to Usain Bolt at the 2008 Olympics, it was nation moving, it was euphoric. Never had anyone, certainly not from Jamaica ,had earned such a feat. The nation felt proud, young girls saw hope and a local industry was launched.

That was the impact of Laing to the  fashion industry. She went on to grace many other covers, Essence  in 1990, Ebony, Chic, Black Elegance and Caribbean Lifestyle. Althea’s sheer determination to re-write the standards of beauty and fashion has placed her amongst the icons of the industry. It is  for this reason she is our first female icon. It is for this reason why we chose her to speak in her own words.

The Interview:

Ms. Laing, I read that your first love is teaching. Why did you go into modeling when at the time teaching was a more acceptable profession? 

I needed to fulfill my childhood dream as my father nick named me star girl. In essence I grew up in the shadows of my brothers and sisters and wanted to have my own identity.

Many parents in the 80s would have modeling as the furthest goal on the totem pole. Do you think this stigma has changed over the years?

The stigma has changed as parents regard it as an avenue for the education of their child. It does in fact provide a great income in recent times.

Do you think you have played a change in this perception?

I do believe that persons have realized that modelling is a social responsibility and a platform for one to expand their horizons. As a teacher extraordinaire persons do understand that there is life after modelling.

It has been over 2 decades since you stood of the top of Mount Everest in the modeling industry and a new generation now look towards the industry for their livelihood what can you tell them?

Get an education as all that glitters is not gold.

Modeling is not for everybody or is it?

No it is not,modelling is an industry that focuses on perseverance and high self esteem. If an individual looks great and fails to understand who they are they will be crushed by the personalities within the industry.

Kate Moss was quoted  saying..” nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”  do you agree with her?

I do believe all types should be represented on the runway hence any size works.

I love being skinny lol This is the body God has given me . Ultimately it is your problem should you describe me as “gaunt” as has been done previously. I will not call any names  Thank God I do not have to worry about dress sizes as I  still wear what I wore as a teenager so there lol . They are probably  jealous lol

What is your personal style ? 

My personal style has changed over the years but I have been regarded and referred to as sophisticated and elegant, I have maintained a conservative approach even now as I am a role model for my students and grand daughters.

Your style is so impeccably presented when compared to the millennial generation it can be described as aloof or even conservative. Do you think the present  choice of the millennial  generation to show skin is style or even fashion?

There is no need to be an exhibitionist and I do believe that this is a vulgar display. I have no need to exhibit my wares for the public and I do believe no woman should this borders on insecurity.

So what is fashion to you ?

Fashion is making a statement subtly.

 How do you think race problems should be handled in the industry and have you ever had personal experiences?

Race problems are not only on the international circuit but also here at home. Interestingly I was never casted for a commercial here and when I was by Lennie Little White for the Seabreeze commercial ., the response was it will be difficult to light here. My Essence cover was also three lighter and I was startled however my look could only be appreciated three shades lighter.

 WoW….It’s that bad ? How did you get over the stigma?

I have always been someone with great self confidence and I in turn have the ability to turn my negatives into positive. I have been embraced by the Italians as I dated one for at least 18 months. I was treated like a queen despite his claustrophobic nature. Let us just say I was smothered lol…

Who in your belief  is a fashion icon?

A fashion icon is someone who has launched an industry….. and I have lol..

 Lol no complaint about that….you have done a lot , not just modeling but numerous charitable work especially for children. What gives you the motivation to go on doing this work of charity?

I believe in charity my mother is charity in action. I have learnt that giving back refines your spirit and adds a new dimension to your purpose and the will that God has for your life. I will continue to do this as long as I continue breathing.

How do you want to  be remembered?

I want to be remembered as a free spirit who spends time molding the lives of the youth. I want to be remembered as the sound of laughter and tears.I want to be remembered for the life I have lived turning sadness into joy and embracing self through it all.

Do you consider your accomplishments in fashion as your springboard for what you are presently doing?

Modelling has provided the avenue for talent visibility and has aided in the avenue of corporate training in which I am involved.

Any regrets?

My greatest regret is being married so young if not I do believe that my career may have been longer in the field. However, our life is ordered by the Lord so where I have been and what I have done was for that moment in time. I am moving towards self actualization and loving it.Thanks to Jamaica for the positive and negative comments which have molded me into the superwoman of grandmother, mother, teacher, motivator and friend.

Althea made Jamaica proud. Grace Jones , another Jamaican who graced the fashion pages can be regarded as technically the first Jamaican to break the glass ceiling . But Grace , although of  Jamaican heritage does not live here. Althea does. She is the embodiment of what  it is to be a brand, a brand that not only stood the test of time, but also one that is distinctly and elegantly Jamaican.

Laing at a recet fashion show

Photo and quote courtesy of corvedacosta.com . Keneea Linton Fashion show review. Photo credit Jahkno.

…….Althea Laing opened the show. for those shivering seconds she captured the audience in her chantilly lace pencil skirt and silk grosgrain peplum jacket with red floor length taffeta cape. the younger models failed to match her grace and power on stage……. Corve Dacosta

876icon- ANDREW ‘BRAATA’ CLARKE

 

picture courtesy of Dramatic Adventure Theatre

picture courtesy of Dramatic Adventure Theatre

“I represent Jamaica and Jamaican culture all day and every day”.. Andrew Clarke

He is probably the youngest of  many that are involved in theater and Caribbean culture to reach the plateau where his Braata Productions have reached in its 5 years of existence. Andrew Clarke is unfettered by the laws of logic. Logic says your work becomes iconic over time, nurtured with age and the experiences you gather along the way. Andrew says no, my work is now. My work must nurture, strengthen , entertain, educate and express  Caribbean life as we live it. Andrew has taken his vision of Caribbean folklore and heritage to the very place where the Caribbean diaspora needs to constantly express its colorful way of life in the  dark and dreary conundrum of North America.

my flash photography photo

my flash photography photo

 

Classically trained singer, Andrew’s work has risen from the spinning surface  of a potter’s tray to an iconic theatrical conglomerate in just 5 years. He has one idea and stuck to it, simply to bring Caribbean folk culture, music movement, stories, artists and theatre to the United States. And what better place to take his potpourri of Caribbean essence. The Caribbean diaspora in the New York area is close to 3.5 million souls that need its monthly , daily or weekly dose of its heritage. He created Braata Productions as his medium to reach his market and in just 5 years his work has become synonymous with West Indian culture in the diaspora.

Andrew is a young icon. He continues to devote his life to the preservation of culture and it has become his pilgrim of passionate reverence to the culture. From small beginnings come great things. Born and raised in Montego Bay ,Andrew never imagined his work would manifest itself so vividly in color in the dark confines of the North.  Yes it did  and his work continues to shine, illuminating the lives of the thousands who have seen his productions and those that are yet to be born will speak the name Braata Productions, even to the end of time.

 

The Interview:

Mr. Clarke, what rule do you use in your everyday life?

Hmmm…a few come to mind but the one that reverberates is an old Jamaican saying,” de higha monkey climb, the more him expose.” This can have both a positive & negative connotation. Positive in that as you climb higher on the ladder of success folks tend to treat you with respect and you become more of a voice to be heard in the crowd while on the negative side the higher up you go the more you are open to criticism and ridicule. This is sometimes the time when people want to pull out your dirty laundry as well. So with ‘acclaim’ and recognition comes both the good and bad.

Is this how you got Braata Productions started? 

Braata was really started out of a need to be the best that we can be as Jamaican and by extension Caribbean artists. I was unhappy with the productions I saw being produced by Caribbean presenters and about the Caribbean experience and I knew from my work and training in Jamaica is that we held high standards for production be it theatre or concerts.   

The last time I checked you have launched Braata Folk Singers, Braata Theatre Workshops, Braata Education & Outreach and also managing an Online shop. Judging from your work I have to ask you are you obsessed or possessed with culture?

Lolololol Easily obsessed! This is not just a passing fancy but something that comes from a place of true passion. When I think culture it gets me equally excited as when I think of Broadway (which I have aspirations of doing one day) but for now culture for me carries that same allure. It deserves the same place as does Broadway.

What is the recipe for the work you do with your team?

Discipline, discipline, discipline! No excuses. If you want to create world class work, you have to put in world class work! The greatest of artists continue to find ways to improve themselves and their proficiency in their craft…the work never ends. As is often said in the performing arts, “you are only as good as your last performance” and I absolutely agree. Also, talent is not enough. You have to be willing to work hard to be great at what you do.  Good is not enough if you can get better!  The late Hon. Dr. Olive Lewin said: “You don’t practise until you get it right; you practise until you can’t get it wrong.”  I drill them,  my folk singers, like that.

Are you optimistic or pessimistic of Caribbean culture from its early education and presentation to the professional expression?

Pessimistic.  Sadly.  If you ask the average child to recite a Ms Lou poem or even who Ms Lou is they might not know. I am hoping that I am just disconnected from the school system in Jamaica and that things have changed but it was my time in the JCDC that gave me the most exposure to culture. In the Jamaica curriculum there is no place for culture. We study everything and everyone else but ourselves.

You have taken Caribbean culture to a  somewhat vacuous market  New York city where sadly some of the very people you are trying to reach are out of touch with their heritage. How do you throw out your line to catch your fish?

Throw and hope they bite. Hope to capitalize on the nostalgia. Of being away from home so long that they yearn for a piece of home. In this age of technology, culture is competing with American pop culture with its flashy lights alluring beats and skimpy costumes that we get relegated to the side show. It is in churches and civic groups that we get the majority of our support and as the word gets  around more people see us. Word of mouth has been our best ally.

Is it challenging, frustrating or all of  the above?

All of the above. Challenging because nothing worth building ever comes easy and the competition for people’s attention is so big. We are like David fighting Goliath. Frustrating because most times we don’t even get the chance to prove our worth. Culture is giving little regard even on a big stage. We are the ones likely to be the warm up act when no one is yet watching or the filler till the real headliner comes or in some distant place with no technical support or facilities to perform at our best.

You are Jamaican and could have easily chosen Jamaican culture as your product. Why Caribbean?

Haha is this a trick question? Lol… Let’s be clear. I  rep Jamaica and Jamaican culture all day & every day. There is no escaping it. No matter where I go I am identified as Jamaican before I am Caribbean. Here in the Diaspora there is this need to differentiate and clarify so people don’t get it mixed up. We are all so territorial. So to other Caribbean people I am Jamaican. I couldn’t dare stake claim to knowing more about St. Lucian culture for example than a Lucian. But alas I strive for a Caribbean appeal. I am well aware that to non Caribbean folks we are just the other, all of the us whether Jamaica, Trini, Bajan whatever. So I rep the Caribbean. I am tired of the separation. Why can’t we all get along? So I chose Caribbean because there is strength in numbers. There is enough of each group trying to do their own thing. So I am hoping that Braata in time will be identified yes as Jamaican in name but Caribbean in nature.

There is a quote from Cesar Chavez  famous American labor activist and he said “preservation of one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures”.  What is your view on that statement?

I agree. We can all get along. I don’t need to down the other man’s culture to make mine look better. I learn this from my time in Car sales at Enterprise. My manager would always tell me, build value in your product don’t spend time tearing down the other guy. That was some of the best advice ever and it has stayed with me since then.

Is this the road you always dreamed of traveling?

Honestly no. I came to New York with dreams of singing on Broadway. My name in bright lights, playing to hundreds of people every night for weeks and weeks but alas it is never that easy to break in. Especially as a Jamaican. Sure I could get accent reduction but then I would be one of hundreds of black actors competing for the few black roles that exist on Broadway. No I never dreamed of being Executive Director of anything. I always had leadership qualities but I never had the desire to lead per say. This thing just became bigger than I imagined and once I got in deep there was no turning back. ha ha..

LOL..of course it is and how are the potholes?

Like the ones in Jamaica…like dutch pots, deep and wide! LOLOLOLOL But, “the hotter the battle, the sweeter the victory!”

Andrew, do you fear failure?

Ahm YES! Like a mother! Ha, ha but that is why I work equally hard never to be faced with that option.

It seems like your work has not gone unnoticed, especially from the Jamaican Government  How does that make you feel?

Let me be politically correct here and say I am thankful for the recognition I have received thus far. I have never worked  just for that but when it comes it is appreciated and humbling. I just wish though that more support in tangible ways would be given to the organizations like mine. Not in the form of awards, citations and commendation though those are nice,  but the government just assisting us with resources. After all we are the link to Jamaica here in the US. One of the few doing work in this specific area and I feel like the performing arts gets the short end of the stick in support. No sponsorship, no official presence and attempt by the government to bolster what we do. The celebrities of Jamaican industry get all the kudos and that is because their work has a broader appeal. But we are the grassroots of Jamaica’s entertainment and we are suffering…the roots are being starved for attention and nourishment.

In 15 years time what do you see in your vision for Braata Productions?

15 years?! Wow I could only hope and pray we make it that far haha.

But I hope that we become a staple in the New York landscape not only in the Caribbean community but beyond. I think Caribbean arts deserves shine beyond the boroughs…like Broadway and  just being a part of the mainstream American experience. It is great to share what we have with those that know about what we do but we want to reach those that don’t  know and give them a taste , get them hooked on what we do much like they are hooked on reggae and Jamaican rum!

I also hope that Braata, like most American nonprofits  pay their artists. For too long in the Caribbean we see the performing arts as a hobby while in America we have companies like the Alvin Ailey dance company that have dancers that work full time. They are paid to come to work from 9-5 like any corporate job and spend time perfecting their art. That is part of my dream for Braata!

At your young age you are considered an icon, a young icon still forging your way. Some icons take ages for their work to mature, your work is maturing  before your eyes. What do you credit this to?

A word my minister and principal growing up would  always use, “stick-to-it-ive-ness” haha

But seriously, it is that kind of quality that keeps me motivated. I know what I want and I work for it. The saying, “The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.” I am one of those men, toiling over my computer at 3am searching for the best deal on props and set pieces for my next production, researching grants and how to’s  and the whole nine yard. I stay motivated because that is the only thing I know. Sure I get down sometimes, so distraught, frustrated and just ready to say forget this! but after I wallow in self pity for a while I get back up and get back at it.  Because, “to whom much is given, much is expected.” Yes I hold a lot of these sayings close to me. haha

How do you want to be remembered?

Hahahahahahahaha I hope that the change for me to be remembered doesn’t come any time soon! Lol But if I had a choice I would want to be remembered in part as a dynamic performer. I miss my days of acting and singing up a storm, which I hope to one day pursue again as passionately as I do this work in preservation of culture. But I also want to be remembered  as the man who continued the fight for the respect and admiration of culture. Following in the footsteps of greats like Ms Lou, Mass Ran, Dr. Lewin, Professor (Rex Nettleford) to name a few. To have my name mentioned even in the same sentence would be the ultimate remembrance.

courtesy of Braata Productions

Courtesy of Braata Productions

Website: braataproductions.org

876icon Louise Bennett

876iconLouiseBennett is a cultural Icon that has left as her legacy her undying message that Jamaicans must be proud of their language. She created many folkloric tales and poems that to this day is an intrinsic part of our heritage and culture

Jamaicans.com Exclusive Interview With Miss Lou

An exclusive Jamaicans.com Interview with Miss Lou.

Miss Lou-8

Miss Lou, the Honourable Louise Bennett-Coverley O.M., O.J., finally has her day! September 7 has officially been declared, by Governor-General Sir Howard Cooke, to be ‘Miss Lou Day’. The day marks the works of the esteemed first lady of comedy in promoting, celebrating, and exploring Jamaican culture. It also marks the day of her birth.

Born in 1919 in Kingston, Jamaica, to a widowed dressmaker, Miss Lou’s artistic learnings, creativity, and love for performance were nurtured by her mother and grandmother. Miss Lou recalls that as early as age seven, she delighted in telling stories and performing for playmates and family members. Clap yuhself, Miss Lou!

We here at Jamaicans.com have declared May 2003 as Miss Lou Month.

Jamaicans.com will continue to root for Miss Lou in becoming our next National Heroine.

Louise Bennett, Caribbean cultural icon, linguist and poet, has been writing and performing using the Jamaican Creole since the 1950s. For a long time, despite the fact that her work gained limited favour among the working class and some intellectuals, her writings did not appear in the important Jamaican anthology Focus in the 1940s to the 1960s, and the Jamaica Poetry League ignored her. In 1962, she was included in the Independence Anthology of Jamaican Literature, but not in the section for poetry. It took the social and political upheaval of the 1970s for academics and others to accept Louise Bennett as a guru of the Jamaican Creole. She received the Order of Jamaica in 1974.

Louise Bennett had a programme called “Miss Lou’s Views” on Jamaican JBC Radio in the 1970s. One correspondent wrote in a daily newspaper that such a programme should be scrapped because it tended to perpetuate ignorance in Jamaicans. Though Louise Bennett has sought to foster love and respect for the Jamaican dialect, she has never advocated that Standard English be abandoned. She argued that for far too long it was considered not respectable to use the dialect, because there was a social stigma attached to the kind of person who used it. She added that many people still did not accept that for many Caribbean people, there were many things best said in the language of the folk. (“Bennett on Bennett” 101).

The debate as to the rightful place that Caribbean dialects should play in the life of the people is ongoing and contentious. Many people mostly the middle-class, seem unable to accept the proposition that Caribbean people may be armed with both Standard English and the Creole.

Marcia: Our dear Miss Lou, please accept our sympathies here at Jamaicans.com on the passing of Mr. Eric Coverley.

Marcia: Jamaica Labrish has been your most requested book to date. Are there any other books published by you? People are always asking about where to buy tapes/cds with your work, where would you direct them to start looking for your works?

Miss Lou: Yes there are other books currently in print – Selected Poems, Aunty Roachy Seh, Anancy and Ms. Lou. Books out of print – Songs from Pantomine published in 1949, Laugh with Louise 1962, Editor for Jamaican Mother Goose, and others published by Pioneer Press which was owned by The Gleaner Company. Sangsters Book Store is the publisher, and carries the books.

Marcia: Most of us grow up seeing you on Ring Ding on JBC, are there any tapings of this programme available for purchasing?

Miss Lou: To my understanding when I asked about it, the tapes were scrubbed and recorded over with other programs. None to my knowledge were preserved, so there are none available for sale.

Marcia: We are indebted to you for bringing pride to the Jamaican Patois and giving it international recognition. Who in your estimation does a great imitation of you? Is this person one of your protégés?

Miss Lou: Without hesitation I will say Faith D’Aguilar. She has me down pat . She once fooled my late husband when he heard her voice over a loud speaker, and thought I had returned from a performance overseas without telling him. I could not say she was my protégé.

Marcia: Let us play “What If”…What if you were asked to rewrite the National Anthem of Jamaica, what would you do differently to the words?

Miss Lou: Nothing, they are just fine.

Marcia: What does it mean when you say, “Jack Mandora mi nuh choose none” at the end of one of your stories?

Miss Lou: Each Anancy story ends with “Jack Mandora mi noh choose none”, which means “I take no responsibility for the story I have told”. (“Jack Mandora -Keeper of Heavens door. Me noh choose none – It is not of my choosing.

Marcia: How did you and the late Mr. Ranny Williams start out on radio? Are any of those programmes available for sale?

Miss Lou: The Lou and Ranny Show was the first radio sit-com and was the show that opened JBC when it started. We were approached by the Matalons to do a comedy programme for JBC radio. Ranny was an outstanding comedian.

Marcia: How many pantomimes did you appear in and did Ranny Williams appear in any of the earlier pantomimes?

Miss Lou: I did about twenty-five, starting in 1943. I have lost count. Ranny and Lee Gordon (Amos and Andy) appeared as comic relief, front of curtain in Jack and the Bean Stalk 1941 and Babes in the Woods 1942 and the third Pantomine written by Vera Bell a dramatization from Soliday and the Wicked Bird 1943, and it was the first one that was really Jamaican. Ranny’s first leading role was “ Anancy “ in Busha Bluebeard in 1949

Marcia: As our First Lady of Comedy, are there any comedians that you get a good laugh from?

Miss Lou: Nuff, Nuff too many to mention.

Marcia: Who are some of the people who influenced you?

Miss Lou: Too many to mention but two are Philip Sherlock – Former Head master of Wolmers Boys School, vice chancellor of the UWI, and one of the founding fathers of UWI. He published a book on Anancy and was very interested in Folklore and was the head of Extra Mural Studies at the University of The West Indies. An outstanding man in the field of Education. A great Jamaican. Also Ashley Clark – musician, he started the idea of Christmas Morning concerts in his music store on King Street. He was always interested in my writings and cultural activities and we were working together to produce a dictionary of Jamaican Folk Speech. I have no idea what happened to the manuscript

Marcia: Do you have an official website? Do you think the Internet is a helpful tool to showcase your work to the younger generation?

Miss Lou: Yes, I do it is currently under construction but it has a few current photos. The address is www.louisebennett.com. When it is finished it will have my biography, general information and some of my works.

Marcia: What is your philosophy? Do you have a favourite quote?

Miss Lou: “Treat all with respect”

Teck kin-teet kibba heart bun – Use a smile to disguise your sorrow.

Dark night got peeny-wally – Behind every dark cloud is a silver lining.

Howdy-an-Tenky bruk no square – Caring and Gratitude create harmony.

Marcia: Thank you from all of us here at Jamaicans.com for being the only poet to really tell the truth about our society in Jamaica through our own language. Walk good Miss Lou, and may good duppy always walk with you. Walk good.

876icon Bob Marley

Welcome to 876icons . We thought it fitting to launch the page with the larger than life #876iconBobMarley. This 60 minutes CBS interview was conducted with its biases and stereotypes in the 80s about Reggae and the Rastafarian culture. At the time the word #rasta was a pariah and #reggae was seen as the music of the dirt poor. #BobMarley iconic words will forever hold true.