Saturday, September 29, 2012

Was American Music Mogul Chris Lighty Murdered?

Chris Lighty
American music mogul, Chris Lighty was believed to have committed suicide August 30th, 2012 when he was found dead in his Bronx, New York Apartment with a single gun shot wound to the head.  Speculations were that he (Chris Lighty) who oversaw the careers of music stars 50 CentMariah Carey and P. Diddy killed himself after an argument with his wife.  Reports also pointed to debts with the IRS as reasons why the industry visionary would have taken his life.  

However in a more recent report, Chris Lighty's brother Dave lighty and his family believes otherwise and wants to investigate the circumstances behind his death.  Dave was quoted as saying in an interview, "I feel like there are a lot of unanswered questions and I need answers."  But Dave Lighty and family are not the only ones who feel that way, Rapper 50 Cent also believes there is something more to his death and is helping with the investigations.  Chris Lighty died leaving his wife in full control of his estate.

More Than £250m of Music Illegally Downloaded

Manchester has been named as the UK hotspot for illegal music downloads in the UK, with the country as a whole illegally downloading around £250m of music a year. Pirated downloads have long been the bane of the music industry, and earlier this year a court ordered internet service providers including Sky, BT and Virgin Media to block the Swedish file-sharing site Pirate Bay. 

The most popular pirated albums in the UK were Mr Sheeran's "+", followed by Rizzle Kicks' Stereo Typical and Rihanna's Talk that Talk. Worldwide there were 3 billion songs downloads in the first half of the year, a report said.  The USA was the country with the most illegal download, at 775 million, followed by the UK.  Rihanna's album Talk that Talk was the most pirated album worldwide at 1.2m downloads.

The study by digital music analysts musicmetric, anonymously measures downloads via the BitTorrent methods of downloading files from multiple users.   The majority of downloads via this file-sharing method, MusicMetric said, will be illegal.

However, the Digital Music Index report shows that blocking the site had little, if any, effect of illegal downloads.  The report says that there were 43 million album and single downloads via BitTorrent in the first half of the year, with Brit award winner Ed Sheeran the most downloaded artist.

Excerpts: Channel 4 News

The International Reggae and World Music Awards Returns to South Florida for it's 32nd Staging

Chicago, IL - By special request and popular demand, the annual International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA), produced by Martin's International returns to South Florida for its 32nd Anniversary.  On Saturday, May 4th, 2013, the prestigious Coral Springs Center for the Arts, will be the site for the staging of the star-studded red carpet event.

In 1987, Studio 183 in Carol City South Florida became the venue for what turned out to be a sold out 6th annual IRAWMA staging.  The following year the event was held again at that same venue and moved on to the Sunrise Music Theatre in 1992.  The 1992 ceremony became one of the IRAWMA's most memorable staging because it featured the late CBS Trapper John MD star Madge Sinclair as well as Third World Band, Marcia Griffiths, Andrew Tosh and a host of other celebrities.  In 1993, IRAWMA South Florida was once again the  host country for the event for a forth staging. Again South Florida's IRAWMA ceremony featured another special guest in downtown Miami, the Honorable Rita Marley.

The International Reggae and World Music Awards ceremony over the years, has been staged across the United States in Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans and New York as well as Jamaica and Trinidad in the Caribbean.

The mission of the IRAWMA established in 1982 is to acknowledge and honour the accomplishment and contribution of Reggae and World Music artistes including songwriters, promoters and musicians.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Reggae Concert Promoters...Listen Up

Everyone who hears Reggae songstress Sophia Squire's music for the first time gives her the thumbs up.  Former Back Up Vocalist of the late great Gregory Isaacs, this, 'Nature's Calling' 'Next to Me' singing sensation is one of Jamaica's finest Reggae product at this time.  But what is her greatest challenge, "getting gigs" she said, "there are times when I think about throwing in the towel, but I just can't I love this thing too much."

Squire's writing skills and creativity is unique and places her among the best in the local industry.  What is so admirable about this artiste is the creative ways in which she expresses her thoughts and emotions musically.  "When Sophia sit down to write it's the rhythm that speaks to her" said Manager and Spouse Audley Allen coupled with an intuitive mind.  A mother of two with her youngest child just 8 months old, Sophia Squire tracks/singles are the chapters of a romantic music novel.  So cleverly crafted, female fans (young and old) cling to her every word as if they know of or are involved in the relationship she's in, while the males enjoys the pre-preparation of a romantic moment.  Like a teacher to her students Squire's mature lyrics puts love into lovemaking and substance into social commentary.  "She's believable and that's that" said a Canadian fan commenting on one of her music videos.

Sophia Squire has written and recorded a catalogue of tracks where 98% are considered very good music.  Songs such as Rock n Come In (, I Live and I Learn (, Next to Me ( and Nature's Calling ( are just a few but certainly enough to bring across the point that this artiste is a sensational. 

Several of her releases have propelled atop local and other djs playlists, seemingly permanently.  She has performed on several major concert and stage shows across the island including multiple performances on Reggae Sumfest one of, if not the most prominent event held annually in Jamaica.  She has also performed a few gigs in United States but yearn to perform for Europeans her most encouraging fan base.  "I really want to perform throughout Europe, you see the proof is in the eating of the pudding and I believe if I get a chance to perform for my fans there I will make even more fans, it's a goal I want to accomplish" said the soft spoken artiste.

Sophia Squire's catalogue of authentic, romantic and thought provoking tracks, coupled with her experience working with one of Reggae's all time, most popular Jamaican born artiste Gregory Isaac's across the world, is the reason every Reggae concert promoter across Europe and the United Kingdom should hire her services.  She's experienced, a good performer and will pull in the big bucks. The teenagers love her and adults adore her, she motivates, inspires and rocks!  Give Sophia Squire the big break, she's one you can bet your last dollar on.

Jamaica/Germany Bond Continues Musically

The German Embassy in Jamaica along with Music Unites Jamaica Foundation and the Seaford Town NGO will host, 'German Day in Seaford Town' at Seaford Town, Westmoreland, Sunday September 30, 2012.  This indeed is yet another infusion of German Culture in Jamaica as the German presence dates back to 1835 when about 250 labourers were sent there.  

A number of musicians from Germany will bond with their Jamaican counterparts playing Opera.  Rosina Moder, Executive Director of Music Unites Jamaica Foundation (formerly known as RCM Music Foundation and on a mission to expand the awareness of Jamaica's musical heritage), will be playing the recorder and Michael Sean Harris an educator as well as an arranger will be doing two songs. "The Opera is Mickey" said Moder who further stated that this is the first Reggae Opera, central to the week of Jamaica-Germany celebrations.  "It is a Jamaican story, loosely based - it takes poetic licence - on Mickey Smith.  It is not autobiographical," she said.  Mickey Smith, a poet, was murdered on August 17, 1983, in Stony Hill, St. Andrew.  One of his more popular poems and recording is entitled, 'Mi Cyaan Believe It.'

The opera was created by Peter Ashbourne, a music composer who recently conducted the legendary Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) during the group's Jamaican performances on September 13 and 15 in Jamaica, Entertainment Consultant and Contractor Alvin Campbell and Professor Mervyn Morris, Writer/Poet.  On Thursday, October 4, there will be excerpts from the opera again at an Inter-Cultural Lunch Hour Concert, to be held at the Institute of Jamaica, East Street, Kingston.  The cast of performers from Seaford Town will be joined by pianist Roger Williams.  Much more of the opera will be performed at the Vera Moody Concert Hall, Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, on October 6 and Our Lady of Fatima Church in Ocho Rios on October 7.

"For a year we were trying to get it on stage for Jamaica 50.  The German Ambassador was so excited about it and made it his flagship project," Moder said.  She is determined that the opera will play in Jamaica first, despite funding difficulties.  "People told me to put it on outside Jamaica and they will love it when it comes back.  I say how can a Jamaican story like Mikey go to London, Tokyo, Vienna first?" Moder asked.  "We need the musicians here, the dancers here.  It is to happen here.  We may suffer with sponsorship, but it has to happen here.  We may suffer with sponsorship, but it has happen here and then we can travel with it."

All four events in the series celebration of the Jamaica-Germany bond are free.  Sanitary facilities will be officially handed over by the Germany Embassy which should have a significant role in heritage tourism efforts around Seaford Town.

Excerpts from the Jamaica Gleaner
Article written by Gleaner Writer
Mel Cooke

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bogle and the Black Roses Crew the Rise and Fall

Recently I read an interesting article published in a local newspaper about the infamous Black Roses Crew.  It was reminiscent of the 90s, the fun and excitement as well as the demise of some who impacted many lives both positively and negatively.  The Black Roses crew reigned througout the 1990s on Lincoln Avenue in Kingston, popularly known as the Black Roses Corner.  Among its members were what the article described as the, 'flamboyant dancers Gerald 'Bogle' Levy and David Alexander Smith also known as 'Ice.'

Written by Simone Morgan, the theme was centred around the crew's colourful lifestyle and entertainment.  The Black Roses Corner formed the backdrop of many music videos including Barrington Levy's 1993 hit song entitled, 'Work' which depicted an exciting and work motivated surrounding coupled with Bogle's magical dance moves portrayed by those around him including former community don, Willie Haggart.  Another popular video highlighted was Beenie Man's, the King of Dancehall, World Dance in 1995. Both videos ironically demonstrates some of the crew's positive influences on the community as well as the local entertainment industry.  Barrington Levy's song was inspiring and the message sent positive for the many inner city youth who admired the crew for their lavish lifestyle and gangsterism.

Black Roses no Longer Blooms
But between 2001 - 2008, Moore, Levy and Smith were shot and killed and since then, the 'Black Roses no Longer Blooms,' the latter was the title of the article.   The corner was described as a 'shadow of it's former' outlook. A literally well lit space has become the gloom of an entire community.  Community members were reminiscent of the good ole days when, 'violence was under control' and Bogle around to teach dancing to those who appreciated the art form and inspired to become as famous as he was. 

Surviving member of the Black Roses crew Boysie, informed the news crew that a lack of finances had not "prevented the activities from continuing," in the community in relations to Dancing.  Instead it was the 'peace' he was quoted as saying, that had "died with Bogle."  Black Roses Corner then was compared to 'Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood,' it was a place where not only artistes, entertainers and very important people hangout, but also attracted tourists. Bogle had the talent and Willie Haggart had the cash they recalled, but with Bogle and Willie Haggart no longer around, violence erupted sending dancers elsewhere to create their dance moves.  

But despite the negative influence and gangsterism that attributed to the demise of the Black Roses crew, they left an indelible mark on entertainment in Jamaica.  Historically Bogle and Ice is remembered for their creativity and for popularizing Jamaican dance moves which paved the way and created opportunities for many Dancers in the industry since. Dancing remains a staple in the local dance hall as it had spiralled across the world during their reign.  Many where and have been motivated and inspired by these dancers and as such it is indeed sad to declare that 'out of bad comes good.'  Had it been another system in place, had there been more positive influences around these people, had their surroundings been more conducive for learning, would there be a 'Bogle or Ice' that the world had come to know?  We certainly do not encourage violence or gangsterism, but in reality it is what it is...


Monday, September 24, 2012

Swaggi Maggi 2010-11 Dancehall Queen Germany Makes Oh So Much Difference!

Swaggi Maggi
Margarita 'Swaggi Maggi' Bonning is a Dancehall Queen with a difference.  Born in Germany by a Chilean dad and German mother, this Dancehall Queen of 2010 - 2011 has opted to teach Dancehall Classes across Europe.  We met her through Dancehall artiste and Medical Practitioner Dr. Garth 'Shaka Pow' McDonald and have learnt that she is not just a Dancehall Queen but an advocate for the Reggae/Dancehall genre not only in Germany where she if from but across Europe.  An interesting individual and a unique Dancehall Queen, we wanted to know more and thought you would too. So here are our 10 Questions for Swaggi Maggi:-

Jamaican Dance Tutorial Click to Download

N.I.P.: Who is Swaggi Maggi, where do you live and was born?
S.M.: I was born in Germany by a Chilean dad and a German mother.  My real name is Margarita Bonning.  I moved to Berlin in 2009 and started my studies in Philology and Latin American studies.  Still my greatest passion is Dancehall and I'm teaching Dancehall classes and workshops all over Germany and Europe.  Right now I'm working with my partner Tobi on our project TopUpProduction which aims to promote Dancehall as well as the Dancehall dance more in Europe and I'm doing an internship at the School of Dance at Edna Manley College in Kingston to complete my studies and increase my knowledge of Jamaican and Caribbean culture and dance. 

N.I.P. What is it like growing up in your hometown?
S.M.: Completely different from Jamaica.  Life is quite strict/regulated and quiet, most children don't grow up surrounded by music and dancing.  I was lucky that my dad was always listening to music, so I grew up with rhythm and dancing.  But after high school I felt bored in my hometown and found what I was looking for in Berlin - multicultural population and a more 'colourful' life.

N.I.P. What is the entertainment scene like in Germany, the music, dance, artistes, help us to visualize these things?
S.M. Well, we also have a lot of musicians and artists but from many different genres and it's the same with dancing.  Pop and electronical music are quite popular and these are the genres, that the biggest night clubs play.  We have many big dancing schools that offer classical/modern dances and street dances but only a few have Dancehall in their schedule.  And if so, many times the teacher doesn't know about Jamaican Dancehall steps and the culture but they do some kind of female Hip-Hop dancing to (old) Dancehall music.

N.I.P. How did you first hear Jamaican music and what was the experience like?
S.M.: The very first time surely was my mother's Reggae compilation CD and I already loved it when I was a child.  Later I went to my first Dancehall party by a local sound called Mangotree Sound System and that was when I fell in love with the music and began to dance to it, first in my own way and step by step discovering and learning more about the culture, music and the dance, exchanging also with the members of my first crew Badda Gyalore.  At the beginning this was quite hard as information via internet just started to come up in the past few years. 

N.I.P. Is there a Jamaican community in Germany?
S.M.: We have some US bases therefore there are some Jamaicans living there but there is actually not a real Jamaican community.  With Berlin being a city that attracts a lot of foreign  people there are some Jamaicans living there of course and we are lucky to have a place called 'Yaam' where vibes and Jamaican culture are very lively.

N.I.P.: How do people in general react to Jamaican music and is this population large?
S.M.: The population which is listening and interested in Jamaican music is unfortunately not too big, even though it is growing.  Of course, many people enjoy Reggae music and we have sound systems all over the country, keeping Dancehall parties and promoting Jamaican music, but even they are struggling.  My Dancehall classes in Berlin are growing every day as people like the music and discover something 'new' for them, refering to the music as well as the dance style.  there are mainly females coming to the classes and workshops as most of the men still think that Dancehall dancing is only for women....

N.I.P.: Interesting.  You are Germany's Dancehall Queen tell us how did that happen and in what year.
S.M.: I was holding the title from 2010-2011.  As I said, I started to get more into the dance behind Dancehall when I discovered the music.  Then I developed my dancing skills with my crews Badda Gyalore and DiW!NE so that when I entered the 4th annual German Dancehall Queen Contest I could convince the judges not only with wining skills and acrobatics but basicly with Dancehall move and routines.

N.I.P.: How significant is a Dancehall Queen title on Germany's Reggae/Dancehall scene?
S.M.: I think it depends on what you are making of the possibilities you have as a DHQ.  If you are promoting yourself, developing your dancing skills, and if you take this opportunity to promote Dancehall dancing itself as well.  I guess my title helped me to do all of this as I gained a certain popularity holding the title.  But it is not only about holding the title.....

N.I.P.: Okay so you are now here in Jamaica, can you tell us and the many persons who visits our website daily what you enjoy most on the island?
S.M.: Dancehall - of course (smiling) that I am surrounding by Dancehall music, vibe, dancers, everything...

N.I.P. How did you meet Shaka Pow and tell us what do you want people to know about Swaggi Maggi?
Swaggi Maggi off set Shaka Pow's video shoot
S.M.: A local Jamaican introduced me to Shaka Pow in 2011.  He spontaneously invited me to dance in his dancing video for 'Splice dem.'  When I returned in 2012 with my partner, Shaka asked me to do a promotional video for his new tune 'Flip Flop' out of his album, Dancing 101.  After that I just asked him if he would be interested in doing a collaboration for my dance move called, 'Top Up' and so the dancing tune, Top Up was voiced on a relick of the Duck riddim, produced by Tobi Zepezauer.  As my aim is it to promote Jamaican Dancehall and its dancers, I invited local dance crews (e.g. G-Unit, Overload Dancers, Fire Rave,...) to dance in the video to present their latest moves.  I want people to know that I'm not 'stealing' their culture but appreciating it to the fullest.  I aim to represent real Dancehall in my country and Europe to make them know about the real thing and also for the benefit of Jamaican dancers and their popularity.

N.I.P. Thanks Swaggi Maggi and we sincerely hope you succeed in your endeavours.

Interview by:
Sophia McKay