West Indian Day Parade, DJ Sound 4 Life, showcase Caribbean culture

Reveler at the West Indian American Day Parade in New York beams with pride as she displays her intricately beautiful costume.

Reveler at the West Indian American Day Parade in New York beams with pride as she displays her intricately beautiful costume.

By Carmen Glover

While the Labor Day weekend highlights laborers and the workforce, in the Caribbean community Labor Day weekend in New York City has typically been a time of revelry, music, food, colorful costumes and floats as the spirit, energy and vibrant flavors of the Caribbean community is put in the spotlight.

Energetic revelers participate in t he West Indian American Day Parade in Brooklyn, NY.

Energetic revelers participate in t he West Indian American Day Parade in Brooklyn, NY.

This year has been no different, with a host of activities taking place at the Brooklyn Museum on Eastern Parkway as of Thursday, August 28. On Monday, September 1, the festivities climax with a thrilling parade, organized by the West Indian American Day Carnival Association, Inc.(WIADCA). When Jean Alexander was contacted at the WIADCA office recently, telephones were heard going off in the background without any signs of pause.

“It’s been very busy this year,” Alexander explained as she put the finishing touches on the preparations for the weekend events that has attracted participants from across the globe year after year.

Marlon Baptiste plays at a carnival event while the crowd shows its appreciation.

Marlon Baptiste plays at an event while the crowd shows its appreciation.

Among the events that have taken place so far are the Brassfest soca concert which was held on Friday night. Brassfest featured performances by soca artists who span the Caribbean and included Brooklyn’s own Lyrikal and Marlon Baptiste who both hail originally from Trinidad and Tobago; Teddyson John of St. Lucia and headlining act Machel Montano. For John, this year has been special for him because he performed at Brassfest for the second time, and the first with his band. He has been spurred on, he said, “to show that St. Lucia produces good music.”

Marlon Baptiste takes a moment to contemplate his journey in the music industry.

Marlon Baptiste takes a moment to contemplate his journey in the music industry.

Baptiste, on the other hand, who operates the group DJ Sound 4 Life, speaking prior to the show, said he was “definitely looking forward to being on stage because I was born in Trinidad in the land of sweet soca.” Baptiste, who began playing music when he was 12 years old recalled being in the right place at the right time to be noticed.

“I used to play for my family at barbeques but it only takes a good ear for someone to hear you,” he said. “In my case, Natalie Lamming, a promoter in Trinidad, heard me play at a backyard barbecue and I was introduced to her by a family friend in early 2000. Since then, everything she does, I’m a part of it. As her events grew, other promoters saw that I could really play.”

Colorful, elaborate costumes are put on display at the parade.

Colorful, elaborate costumes are put on display at the parade.

He went on to explain that while he will be participating in the WIADCA events, he will also play his music at special events organized by Lamming over the Labor Day weekend. Baptiste, who does not usually talk over the music for the mostly upscale events that he plays for, sees his participation in the WIADCA parade as the pinnacle of exposure for him and other artists, especially as he aims to take his career into other markets.

“It’s been a busy year but I want to get to Europe,” he explained. “I’ve not been in the European market but I’m patient. I’ve been based particularly in Brooklyn and I travel a lot for shows.”

A parade participant is barely visible among the feathers seen in her stately costume.

A parade participant is barely visible among the feathers seen in her stately costume.

Thousands of revelers travel far and wide to enjoy the parade festivities in Brooklyn each year. The parade also attracts politicians who see the benefit in sharing fun moments with members of their constituency so that it is easier to attract voters during elections. But one group that has deep vested interests in the parade is the variety of vendors who sell food, flags and other items that illustrate the diverse and vibrant countries of origin for the parade goers and participants. While the crowded parade is not appealing to everyone, many supporters remain glued to television screens to watch the floats and dance to the pulsating music that abounds at the parade. No matter the way in which the parade is enjoyed, one thing is always clear: the WIADCA parade in not to be missed.–OnPointPress.net

New Beginnings celebrates five-year anniversary with gala

Students at New Beginnings Performing Arts Studio (NBPAS).

Students at New Beginnings Performing Arts Studio (NBPAS) show their talents.

8/31, New Rochelle, NY: Minority and woman-owned New Beginnings Performing Arts Studio (NBPAS) will host its fifth anniversary gala on September 6, 2014 at 3: 00 p.m. The event will take place at the studio, located at 457 Main Street,New Rochelle, New York 10801.

A student at New Beginnings Performing Arts Studio shows some moves.

A student at New Beginnings Performing Arts Studio shows dexterity and physical skill.

The purpose of the anniversary gala is tri-fold: to celebrate five years of operation, to honor those who have contributed to the school, and to raise funds to expand programming. While currently offering a variety of dance, theatre and health opportunities for children as young as four years old to adult, Kyra Johnson, founder and executive director, plans to incorporate other educational and career support opportunities at the site.

Students practice their routine at New Beginnings.

Students practice their routine at the dance studio where various dance techniques are taught.

The mission at NBPAS is to expose children and young adults to life through the arts. This is accomplished by employing artistic educators who have a passion for their gifts, children, and assisting young people gain self-confidence. Members of staff at the facility trained at Alvin Ailey Dance School, the University of California and SUNY Purchase College Conservatory of Dance. They have performed nationally and internationally with artists such as Lazuko Hirayabiyashi (Ballet) and Mary J. Blige. Academic credentials include Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia; Adelphi University in Garden City, New York; Saint John’s University in Queens, New York and Fordham University in the Bronx, New York.

Kyra Johnson, founder and executive director of New Beginnings Performing Arts Studio.

Kyra Johnson, founder and executive director of New Beginnings Performing Arts Studio.

NBPAS offers Tap, African, Afro-Caribbean, Ballet, Modern, Salsa, Zumba, Praise, Tiny Steps, Jazz, Dancing in Pumps, Cuban Fusion, Dance Circuit, Total Body Fitness, and Body-Conditioning classes. Classes are offered Monday through Friday during the evenings and all day on Saturday.

A group of students in various poses at the dance studio.

A group of students in various poses at the dance studio while displaying a range of engaging emotions.

Johnson, who is affectionately called Ms.J, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees, with an emphasis on secondary education and Mathematics . After six years of teaching, she pursued a career in acting and dancing. Johnson performed in the film “Step Up 3D” and has toured the USA, Mexico, Canada, Barbados and Trinidad. She is currently a member of Harambee and Seewee Dance Companies. For more information visit www.newbeginningsdance.com.-OnPointPress.net.

Happy Birthday Michael Jackson!

Michael Jackson would have turned 56 today.

Michael Jackson would have turned 56 today.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Today, August 29, would have been the 56th birthday for the ‘King of Pop’ Michael Joseph Jackson. Jackson died in his bed in his mansion in Los Angeles on June 25, 2009. Some regard Jackson as the greatest entertainer to have ever lived, and his influence continues to be felt in entertainment today. Jackson’s ‘Love Never Felt So Good’ has been a summer anthem this year as a single on the posthumously released album “Xscape”, that features some of Jackson’s previously unreleased recordings with contemporary artists and producers.

Jackson is still on the music charts with his current single Love Never Felt So good.

Jackson is still on the music charts with his current single Love Never Felt So good.

Many also recognize that Jackson’s impact extended beyond the entertainment industry. Jackson earned honors from President Reagan in 1984 for his humanitarian efforts and continued those efforts throughout his life. Millions of fans will forever view Jackson as the best and will continue to celebrate his life. Spike Lee holds an annual celebration of Jackson’s life in Brooklyn that was held on August 26 this year with thousands of fans attending. Today there is a tribute festival in Gary, Indiana, where Jackson and his family grew up. Today we join millions of fans in saying Happy Birthday Michael Jackson.–OnPointPress.net

NFL’s Roger Goodell makes drastic changes to the personal conduct policy

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell responded to critics of the punishment of Ray Rice by making sweeping changes to the NFL personal conduct policy.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell responded to critics of the punishment of Ray Rice by making sweeping changes to the NFL personal conduct policy.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

On Thursday August 28, Roger Goodell issued a letter to all the teams in the NFL notifying them of sweeping changes to the personal conduct policy. Sharing the mindset that led to the change, Goodell stated, “At times, however, and despite our best efforts, we fall short of our goals. We clearly did so in response to a recent incident of domestic violence. … My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families. I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn’t get it right”

An excerpt from the letter, reproduced below states the particulars of the changes:

MEMORANDUM TO ALL NFL PERSONNEL

“Domestic violence and sexual assault are wrong. They are illegal. They are never acceptable and have no place in the NFL under any circumstances.

Our Personal Conduct Policy has long made clear that domestic violence and sexual assault are unacceptable. We clearly must do a better job of addressing these incidents in the NFL. And we will. Earlier today, I sent NFL owners a letter that identified specific actions we will take to improve our response to domestic violence and sexual assault.

Goodell's (r) changes  are a clear indication that the public outcry from the punishment levied against Ray Rice (l) have changed the way he wants to punish players in the future.

Goodell’s (r) changes are a clear indication that the public outcry from the punishment levied against Ray Rice (l) have changed the way he wants to punish players in the future.

Those actions include the following:

• All NFL Personnel will participate in new and enhanced educational programs on domestic violence and sexual assault. We will also increase our outreach to college and youth football programs.

• Families will receive detailed information about available services and resources, both through the club and independent of the club. These resources and services will be available to employees and their families on a confidential basis.

• Violations of the Personal Conduct Policy regarding assault, battery, domestic violence and sexual assault that involve physical force will be subject to enhanced discipline. A first offense will be subject to a suspension of six weeks without pay. Mitigating circumstances will be considered, and more severe discipline will be imposed if there are aggravating circumstances such as the presence or use of a weapon, choking, repeated striking, or when the act is committed against a pregnant woman or in the presence of a child. A second offense will result in banishment from the league; an offender may petition for reinstatement after one year but there is no assurance that the petition will be granted. These disciplinary consequences apply to all NFL personnel.”

Goodell did not hold a press conference to address some potential questions stemming from the drastic changes. The NFL Players Association declined to comment at this time, choosing to reserve judgement until a later date. Some questions that stand out about the policy changes are:

What will be the penalty for NFL personnel who do not play games under this policy change?

Would Ray Rice have received a different penalty under this policy change or will his punishment be amended retroactively to incorporate the new policy?

If the second offense is worthy of a lifetime ban, then why is the first offense 6 games? Why not longer?

These questions and others will likely be posed to commissioner Goodell in the near future.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

USC’s Josh Shaw admits he lied; suspended indefinitely

USC defensive back Josh Shaw is suspended indefinitely after admitting he lied about the cause of his ankle injuries.

USC corner back Josh Shaw is suspended indefinitely after admitting he lied about the cause of his ankle injuries.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Breaking News: University of Southern California (USC) corner back Josh Shaw has been suspended indefinitely from all team activities after admitting that he lied about a story he told the team about injuring his ankles this past weekend. Shaw initially told coaches at USC that he suffered two sprained ankles after jumping over a balcony into pool to save his 7-year old cousin from drowning. Now, Shaw admits he made up the entire story.

USC head coach Steve Sarkisian spoke to reporters Tuesday and said that the school had received several calls questioning the authenticity of Shaw’s story and had been investigating the matter. On Wednesday, Sarkisian issued a statement on the matter:

USC Head Coach Steve Sarkisian issued statements of dismay and encouragement after it became clear that Shaw's initial story about his injuries were untrue.

USC Head Coach Steve Sarkisian issued statements of dismay and encouragement after it became clear that Shaw’s initial story about his injuries were untrue.

“I appreciate that Josh has now admitted that he lied and has apologized. Although this type of behavior is out of character for Josh, it is unacceptable. Honesty and integrity must be at the center of our program. I believe Josh will learn from this. I hope that he will not be defined by this incident, and that the Trojan Family will accept his apology and support him.”

Shortly after USC issued its statement, Shaw’s attorney released his own statement in which Shaw said he injured himself “in a fall.”

“I made up a story about this fall that was untrue,” Shaw said. “I was wrong not to tell the truth. I apologize to USC for this action on my part. My USC coaches, The USC Athletic Department, and especially coach Sarkisian have all been supportive of me during my college career and for that, I am very grateful.” More details of the story will emerge in the near future surrounding the actual details that actually caused Shaw’s injuries.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant.

Chicago Sky upset Atlanta Dream; WNBA semifinal matchups set

Elena Della Donne leads the Chicago Sky to the Eastern Conference Finals  with 34 points in game 3.

Elena Della Donne leads the Chicago Sky to the Eastern Conference Finals with 34 points in game 3 on Tuesday, August 26.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The Chicago Sky overcame a 20-plus point deficit to stun the Eastern Conference favorite Atlanta Dream and eliminate them with an 81 – 80 victory Tuesday night. The Sky will advance to the second round of the playoffs, winning the series 2 – 1, both victories occurring in Atlanta.

Elena Della Donne (l) and Angel McCoughtry (r) both had fantastic performances throughout the 3 game series.

Elena Della Donne (l) and Angel McCoughtry (r) both had fantastic performances throughout the 3 game series.

The star of the game was the Sky’s Elena Della Donne who went off for a playoff career high 34 points, 17 in the fourth quarter, including the game winning shot with 8.2 seconds left in the game. The Sky outscored the Dream 30 – 13 in the final quarter to seal the upset victory. Della Donne shared the credit after the thrilling win stating, “When we were in huddles and I was looking at my teammates, everyone had that look in their eyes like we’re not ready to leave, we’re not ready to go home.”

McCoughtry was able to lead her Dream past the Sky in game 2 but fell just short in game 3.

McCoughtry was able to lead her Dream past the Sky in game 2 but fell just short in game 3.

The Dream’s Angel McCoughtry, who led her team to a game 2 win with 39 points, was only able to muster 17 points in the series finale. McCoughtry’s game winning attempt bounced several times on the rim before eventually clanking off in the end. Dream head coach Michael Cooper characterized game 3 like boxing saying the game was Like a Muhammed Ali – Joe Frazier fight…sometimes your great players can will you to win. Just like in game 2 where Angel [McCoughtry] brought [the victory] to us, Della Donne came in tonight and brought [the victory] to them.”

The loss brings to a close what was a promising beginning for a Dream team that has been close to winning a championship the past few seasons. The emergence of rookie Shoni Schimmel in the WNBA All-Star game seemed to be the peak for the team this season as they look to regroup and build on this season’s progress.

WNBA superstar Tamika Catchings is hoping to lead the Indiana Fever back to the WNBA Finals.

WNBA superstar Tamika Catchings is hoping to lead the Indiana Fever back to the WNBA Finals.

Meanwhile, the Sky advance to the Eastern Conference Finals to take on the Indiana Fever, led by former league MVP Tamika Catchings. The Fever dealt with injuries all season long but finally seem to be healthy. While the Della Donne versus Catchings matchup will be key in the series, the impact the Sky’s Sylvia Fowles on the interior and the Fever’s Briann January on the perimeter will play pivotal roles in the outcome of this best of 3 series.

Diana Taurasi (l) and Brittany Griner (r) hope to lead the Mercury to an upset over the defending champion Minnesota Lynx.

Diana Taurasi (l) and Brittany Griner (r) hope to lead the Mercury to an upset over the defending champion Minnesota Lynx.

The Western conference finals will feature the defending champion Minnesota Lynx and the star-studded Phoenix Mercury. Brittany Griner and Diana Taurasi look to lead the Mercury into Minnesota and upset Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, and company as their best of 3 series begins Friday night.

Maya Moore (l) and Siemone Augustus aim to defend their championship and make a 4th consecutive WNBA Finals.

Maya Moore (l) and Siemone Augustus aim to defend their championship and make a 4th consecutive WNBA Finals.

Of the four teams remaining, the Sky is the only team that has not yet played in the WNBA Finals. The Fever are looking to capture their franchise’s 2nd title (’12). The Mercury are seeking their franchise’s 3rd title (07′ and ’09). The Lynx are also looking to add a 3rd franchise title (’11 and ’13) and make their fourth consecutive Finals appearance. Any WNBA Finals matchup should make for more exciting playoff action.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

New York hosted superb celebration of Jamaica’s 52nd Independence

 

state ministrer

State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Arnaldo Brown, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Former Prime Minister Hon. P.J. Patterson and Paulette Willoughby, JICFI chair share a moment at the Jamaica Independence Gala in New York on August 16, 2014.

New York/CMM/August 27, 2014: Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica turned out in huge numbers to the New York Marriot Marquis on Saturday, August 16, to celebrate another year of independence, and 52 never looked so good. It was an evening of elegance, sophistication and sheer class, all bound by the simple yet profound theme: “Honoring Greatness.”

Greatness was plentiful at the event with honorees including the he Skatalites, represented by the band’s only surviving member, Lester Sterling; accomplished actress, singer and humanitarian, Sheryl Lee Ralph; Karl and Faye Rodney of the New York Carib News and by no means least, special guest presenter for the evening, former prime minister, the Honorable Percival J Patterson. In his short but distinct remarks, Former Prime Minister Patterson lauded the Diaspora for its continued civic engagement, making special mention of the newly launched ‘mapping project’ which seeks to identify individuals and document the skill sets spread throughout the Diaspora. He spoke of his belief that it is a Jamaica for all, whether within or outside of her borders.

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JICFI chair Paulette Willoughby poses with  honorees Jerome Haynes, son of Jah Jerry Haynes, Karl and Faye Rodney, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Lester Sterling.

Wearing his `special presenter’ hat Mr. Patterson, who managed the Skatalites before his transition from lawyer to politician, had the privilege of presenting Lester Sterling with his award and posthumously to former original members: Don Drummond, (trombone); Lloyd Knibb, (drums); Jerome, “Jah Jerry” Haynes, (guitar); Jackee Mitto, (pianio); Lloyd Brevett, (bass and drum); Tommy McCook, (tenor saxophone); Roland Alfonso, (tenor saxophone) and John ‘Dizzy Moore, (trumpet).

Sterling went on to wow the room with powerful renditions of Freedom Sound the Skatalites’ theme song, Take 5 and Puppa Lick. Backed by Fab 5 and accompanied by Leroy Graham Jr, on tenor sax, it was Ska resplendent and awesome to the ears–a true moment in time. Master of Ceremonies for the evening, Jeff Barnes kept the room buzzing with quips that elicited plenty laughter, enhancing the already pleasant and lively atmosphere in the room.

Other notables in attendance at the gala included Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, NY State Assemblyman N. Nick Perry, State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, with special responsibility for the Diaspora, Arnaldo Brown; Consul General of Jamaica to New York Mr. Herman G. LaMont, and former NY Council Member, Dr. Una Clarke.

It was an evening of which all Jamaicans would be proud. Patriotism, pride and Jamaican verve waxed a-plenty. The ballroom, bathed fully in the unmistakable colors of the national flag-black, green and gold, shone with energy. Reggae songbird Etana graced the stage, belting out her familiar hits, which turned things up a notch. Fab 5 band, with their usual sparkling set, followed before a short but electric set by DJ Roy and Road International, who kept patrons on their dancing feet into the early morning hours. The Alpha boys Home will benefit from part proceeds of the ball. For more information about this annual event, contact Ms. Andrea Daley at andrea@cmmus.com–OnPointPress.net.