Happy Birthday Bob Marley: Reggae has lost its soul, style, flavor

Reggae legend Robert Nesta (Bob) Marley

Reggae legend Robert Nesta (Bob) Marley in happy times.

By Carmen Glover

On February 6, 1945, Robert Nesta ‘Bob” Marley was born in Nine Miles, St. Ann, Jamaica, West Indies. He would be 70 today. Marley died in Miami, Florida, on May 11, 1981 from skin cancer. Marley’s name is synonymous with quality reggae music that infuses the soul with pulsating, conscious, profound meaning, nuance and power.

Marley’s music and lyrics have the ability to soothe “No Woman No Cry;” unite “One Love,” and “Three Little Birds;” rebuke and reject friction “War;” chart history “Chant Down Babylon, and “Exodus;” respond to conflict “Crazy Baldheads,” and “Bad Card;” seduce “Bend Down Low,” and “Mellow Mood;” and unwind as in “Kaya.”

Bob Marley in his trademark cap.

Bob Marley in his trademark cap.

As the reggae landscape continues to evolve, sometimes the genre is unrecognizable from the era when Marley, Jacob “Killer” Miller, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer,The Burning Spear, Third World, Culture, Black Uhuru, Steel Pulse, Chalice, Junior Reid, Dennis Brown, The I-Threes and other icons toiled meticulously to produce a musical prototype that inspired pride and caused fans to leap to their feet and dance with abandon.

What passes for reggae in this current musical climate is disturbing in some quarters, disappointing in others and embarrassing in far too many instances. While there are some singers, including Marley’s children, who seem committed to carrying on the legacy of inspired reggae music that the iconic musician perfected, it would not hurt if, today, on his birthday, music lovers take some time to savor the exquisite sounds of authentic, inspiring and enjoyable reggae music by listening to Marley’s music.

It’s a great way to say Happy Birthday Bob, reggae music misses you!–OnPointPress.net.

 

Reggae singer Jah Cure has signed with VP Records

Jamaican reggae singer Jah Cure.

Jamaican reggae singer Jah Cure.

By Tiffany Mea

Jamaican singer Jah Cure, one of reggae’s greatest voices, inked a new deal with VP Records to release multiple albums, including The Cure, slated for Spring 2015. Expressing enthusiasm about signing to the label he said:

“It is time for me to sign with an official company. VP is the largest distributer of reggae music and that is a fact, so I am happy to say I am in the best place right now for me. I look forward to build together and feel and sense good things to come.”

The artist has a history with VP Records. He released two albums – Freedom Blues (2005) and True Reflections…A New Beginning (2007) – with the label, but was not officially signed as an artist. VP Records is thrilled to finally have the reggae star on their roster. The company’s A&R, Neil Edwards, said that he has “worked with Cure for over 13 years now, so this has been in the making for some time.” He added: “Cure’s sound is so unique. It resonates with roots reggae listeners and R&B lovers alike.”

The highly anticipated LP The Cure will be a return to roots reggae and lover’s rock with pop fused elements. Consisting of production from the island’s legendary Clive Hunt and Llmar “Riff Raff” Brown (amongst many others), the collection will feature Cure’s brand new singles as well as current hits like “Rasta,” his John Legend cover “All of Me,” That Girl” and “Life We Live.”–OnPointPress.net.

Iconic singer/musician Jeffrey Osborne delivers flawlessly at BB King Blues Club

 

Singer-Songwriter Jeffrey Osborne was exhilarating in his performance at B. B. King Jazz & Blues Club in NYC on January 23, 2015.

Singer-Songwriter Jeffrey Osborne was exhilarating in his performance at BB King Blues Club in NYC on January 23, 2015.

By Carmen Glover

On Friday, January 23, five minutes after the scheduled 8:00 p.m. show time, the stage at BB King Blues Club in New York City’s Time Square suddenly went dark. Then, from the shadows, the unmistakable voice of iconic singer-musician Jeffrey Osborne filled the room with the sultry strains of “Stranger.”

Osborne sang a capella as he emerged onstage to a surge of lights, screams, followed by the swell of his musicians on horns and drums that took “Stranger,” which he made famous as the lead singer of the group, LTD, to its poignant crescendo. The crowd burst into rapturous singing, waving their hands and dancing along, reveling in the exquisite experience of joining along as Osborne sang with flawless precision.

Greeting the appreciative audience at the song’s conclusion, Osborne said that he “flew in from LA where it’s about 70 degrees warmer than New York.” He talked a bit about his early life in Providence, Rhode Island, his passion for music and his disgust for current entertainers who use disrespectful names for women or whose voices and styles are indistinguishable to fans.

During his performance of "Stay with me Tonight" Jeffrey Osborne took of his shirt to reveal his trim, lithe physique and rippling muscles beneath a taut fitting black T-shirt.

During his performance of “Stay With Me Tonight” Jeffrey Osborne took of his shirt to reveal his trim, lithe physique and rippling muscles beneath a taut fitting black T-shirt.

Osborne then treated the audience to more of his hits from his LTD days including “Love Ballad,” “Concentrate on You,” and ” We Party Hearty” before he belted out his hit “On the Wings of Love,” while couples embraced and danced along. He shared snippets of his background between songs, describing  performing in the past with singers such as Michael Jackson. He also spoke fondly of his long partnership with George Duke, who worked with him on his first three solo albums. Osborne then performed Louis Armstrong’s “Wonderful World” while also paying tribute to Jazz great John Coltrane.

And then it was time for him to delve further into his musical collection and deliver impeccably on hits such as “Stay With Me Tonight,” as he took the patrons on a journey that spanned hits from his extensive repertoire.  About 9:20 p.m. he delivered his showstopper: “You Should Be Mine” (The Woo Woo Song) to the delight of the patrons. Osborne then mingled with the crowd who eagerly demonstrated their ability to “Woo Woo.”

Jeffrey Osborne

Jeffrey Osborne thrilled an appreciative audience with an exceptional performance at BB King Blues Club in New York City on Friday, January 23, 2015.

Osborne solidified his reputation as a stellar singer, songwriter and musician during the electrifying New York City concert. His voice was as clear as crystal, his dancing was superb and his repartee with the audience was impressive. Spry and svelte at 66, Osborne entertained to perfection in a manner that would put 20- year olds to shame. He was smooth and effortless, showing that substance will always triumph over flash and that entertainers who nurture their talents and take pride in their delivery will be rewarded with a loyal fan base

Osborne was born in a musical family and is the youngest of 12 children. His late father, Clarence “Legs” Osborne, who died when Osborne was 13, was a famous trumpeter who played with Lionel Hampton, Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Osborne was nominated for a Grammy Award and wrote the lyrics for Whitney Houston’s “All at Once.” He has an ardent fan base and his music has appeared on numerous television shows, including “The Bachelor.” If you have never seen him perform, treat yourself to an unforgettable experience with a maestro of R&B, Jazz, Blues and Soul, whenever he is in your town. —OnPointPress.net.

 

Entertainer Eddie Murphy releases reggae single “Oh Jah Jah” on VPAL

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By Tiffany Mea

VPAL Music, the subsidiary label and distribution arm of VP Records, Jamaica’s largest distributor of reggae music worldwide, teamed up with revered comedian/actor/singer Eddie Murphy to release a new single “Oh Jah Jah.” The single will be available January 27, 2015.

The song’s release is not the first time that Murphy has dabbled into the reggae genre.  “Oh Jah Jah” follows Murphy’s 2013 collaboration “Red Light” which featured the formerly named rap star Snoop Dogg who now goes by the name Snoop Lion after spending time recording reggae music in Jamaica.

Murphy penned and co-produced “Oh Jah Jah”  which was recorded and mixed at Soul Mountain Studios in Beverly Hills, California. Ralph Hawkins Jr. and Trenten Gumbs also had a hand in the production.

Murphy released his first single, “Party all the time” with the late Rick James in 1985. He has recorded more singles since then and seems determined to be taken seriously as a single as well as an actor and comedian.

For more information contact VP Records/VPAL at Tiffanym@vprecords.com or through Murphy’s contact Arnold Robinson at arobinson@rogersandcowan.com–OnPointPress.net

Ghetto Youths International set to release new album in time for Christmas

The Members of Ghetto YOuths

The members of Ghetto Youths International, which include some of the Marley men (Damian, Stephen and Jo Mersa), Wayne Marshall and Christopher Ellis.

By Tiffany Mea

Ghetto Youths International, the record label owned and operated by Bob Marley’s sons Damian, Julian and Stephen, will release the brand new compilation “Ghetto Youths International Presents Set Up Shop Volume 2” on December 23, 2014. The 15-track compilation follows Volume 1 that was released in February 2013 and peaked at #1 on U.S. Billboard Reggae Album chart.

The latest installment is produced primarily by the Grammy-winning brothers Stephen and Damian Marley. The album features new material from the entire Ghetto Youths roster, including Jo Mersa, Black-Am-I, Christopher Ellis, Wayne Marshall and the label’s founders, along with dancehall artist Cham. The compilation’s lead single Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley’s “Is It Worth It? (Gunman World),” which contemplates a killer’s conscience, will be accompanied by short film music video directed by acclaimed visionary Nabil Elderkin (Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Frank Ocean, Bon Iver and Seal). Set in Morocco, actor Saai Taghmaoui (American Hustle, La Haine and Three Kings) takes on the role of a hitman-for-hire in Elderkin’s latest visual opus.

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In addition to “Is It Worth It? (Gunman World),” Ghetto Youths International Presents Set Up Shop Volume 2 features a variety of thought-provoking material. Damian’s motivational opener “Hard Work” is lauded as “a pulsing blueprint for flipping funds” according to The FADER, while his collaborative effort “The Living Breed” featuring Black-Am-I, Jo Mersa, Illestr8 & Biggz General rallies for social change, boasting a powerful hook stating “we are the last of dying breed and the first of a new generation…”

Dancehall’s multi-faceted singjay Wayne Marshall talks about life choices on “On The Corner” (inspired by REM’s “Losing My Religion”) and proclaims to “Nah Give Up” on his single featuring Tarrus Riley. Carrying a similar sentiment, Julian Marley alongside Junior Reid encourages to push forward when times are tough on the uplifting anthem “Never Too Ruff,” while the culturally driven singer Black-Am-I contemplates the beauty and struggle of life back home on “In The Ghetto.”

Christopher Ellis, the son of Jamaican music icon Alton Ellis, “takes classic rocksteady/first wave reggae and gives it a new look” (Vice Noisey) on “Roller Coaster” and gives a fresh take on “Better Than Love” with the remix featuring Irie Love. Jo Mersa (the eldest son Stephen Marley and grandson of Bob Marley) represents a new generation too with his contemporary sound that blends dancehall, pop, and EDM – evident on “Sunshine” and the hypnotic “Rock and Swing.”

The set also features dancehall artist Cham showing how he rolls on “Sh@t” and Stephen “Ragga” Marley’s hard-hitting anthem “Bongo Nyah” with Damian and Spragga Benz. Then, Stephen and Damian team up again on the mesmerizing track “Strike Hard.” With poignant lyrics matched with top-notch modern production, the genre-bending compilation is sure to reach reggae’s core contingent along with a new generation of fans. The album has been available for pre-orders effective Dec 9-OnPointPress.net-.

 

 

Tanya Stephens returns to the music scene with “Guilty,” her latest album

Tanya Stephens

Tanya Stephens returns to the music scene with new album.

By Tiffany Mea

Tanya Stephens, the revered Jamaican singer-songwriter known for her smart, thoughtful lyrics and soulful voice, joins forces with VPAL Music (VP Records’ subsidiary label and distribution arm) to release her latest album “Guilty,” produced primarily by Andre Gordon. The versatile artist, who brought us iconic hits like “Yuh Nuh Ready Fi Dis Yet,” “It’s a Pity” and “These Streets,” marks almost 20 years in the business with this collection.

The 17-track set was previously released digitally only in 2013 on Stephen’s label Tarantula Records and has been available through VPAL Music effective December 2. Stephens touches on a variety of topics on “Guilty” while effortlessly blending pop, soul, roots reggae and dancehall. She tackles relevant social issues like domestic violence on “Corners of My Mind” featuring Sanjay, spices up her relationship on her new single “Pon Di Side,” celebrates human imperfections on “Broken People” and holds no regrets on “Unapologetic.” Her lyrics are relatable to all walks of life, giving “Guilty” worldwide appeal.

For more information about “Guilty” check out Stephens on social media.-OnPointPress.net

 

 

Prince rocks Saturday Night Live while Chris Rock delivers comedically

Prince rocked Saturday Night Live (SNL) to usher in the month of November and Daylight Savings Time.

Prince rocked Saturday Night Live (SNL) to usher in the month of November and Daylight Saving Time.

By Carmen Glover

Musical icon Prince treated his fans to an electric 8-minute set on Saturday Night Live (SNL) on November 1, ushering Daylight Saving Time with a cool, hip jam session that has no equal.

Taking the stage initially on the keyboard, Prince performed four songs from his new albums “Art Official Age,” and “Plectrumelectrum” with 3rdeyegirl, creating history at SNL, where singers usually perform a two-song set only. At 56, Prince delivered a set that was smooth, effortless, entertaining and sheer fun. And yes, his fans wanted more! although they were just happy to see him in any venue, at any time, for as long as he cares to perform.

Chris Rock hosted SNL, while Keenan Thompson had various skits and Prince performed an 8-minute set that was too short for his fans.

On Nov. 1, Chris Rock hosted SNL, while Keenan Thompson had various skits and Prince performed an 8-minute set that was too short for his fans.

After headlining the EssenceFest in New Orleans this past July for the Independence Weekend, Prince epitomized perfection, longevity and superior talent as he belted out songs while doing double duty on the keyboard and then his trademark guitar. His smooth delivery is hard to emulate but is exemplary for anyone who desires to enjoy a rich, successful and relevant career in the music industry.

Chris Rock got off to a slow start but got some laughs with comedic material that was a bit mundane for his reputation. Nevertheless, it seemed as if Lorne Michaels, SNL’s longtime producer, found every black entertainer who serves SNL in one capacity or another, to showcase on the episode. Who can recall another episode of SNL that featured six black entertainers, including four black men, on one episode? It seems as if having The Purple one as the headliner resulted in riches far beyond the scope of his musical repertoire–OnPointPress.net.

Reggae cruise boasts large numbers, great music, satisfied patrons

Damian "Junior Gong" Marley participated on the Welcome to Jamrock Cruise that showcased Jamaica's beauty and culture.

Damian “Junior Gong” Marley participated on the Welcome To Jamrock Cruise that showcased Jamaica’s beauty and culture.

By Tiffany Mea

The first annual Welcome To Jamrock Reggae Cruise broke new ground by captivating nearly 2,400 passengers with an entire week of authentic reggae experiences aboard the Norwegian Pearl ship. The cruise, which set sail from Miami on October 20, with stops in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, Jamaica, before its October 25 return, sold out within one month after it was announced. People came from all over the world. Even though the ship embarked from the United States, 44 percent of the passengers were international, representing almost 50 different countries.

“There was such a unique blend of people. It meant a lot to see the music bring unity between such a diverse group of people,” said Damian Marley.

Iconic movies such as "The Harder They Come," starring Jimmy Cliff, were among the cruise's offerings.

Iconic movies such as “The Harder They Come,” starring Jimmy Cliff, were among the cruise’s offerings.

Filled with jaw-dropping performances from reggae’s top artists to legendary jam sessions from world-renowned DJs and sound systems, Jamaican music was celebrated on every spectrum. From themed movie selections such as “Dancehall Queen,” “The Harder They Come” and “Third World Cop,” to pick-up soccer games and  poolside jerk chicken, the Welcome To Jamrock Reggae Cruise gave passengers a slice of the island’s culture every day.

Sean Paul was one of the many musical performers on the cruise.

Sean Paul was one of the many musical performers on the cruise.

“Nothing like this has ever been done on this scale in the reggae genre. Never before, have you been able to see legends of this level touch the stage for five straight days in such a contained intimate setting. One minute you are eating breakfast next to Sean Paul, then watching a soccer game with Christopher Ellis and Wayne Marshall. Later in the night, you are witnessing a 2-hour set from Bounty Killer, then an historical session with King Jammy’s, Shinehead and Damian Marley at 4 a.m. This is the only place to create these type of vibes, period,” said cruiser Maya Mitte.

Musical performers included Busy Signal.

Musical performers included Busy Signal.

On the main stage, Damian, Julian and Stephen represented the Marley family, as well as their label Ghetto Youths International, with solo performances from the entire crew including Jo Mersa, Wayne Marshall, Christopher Ellis and Black-Am-I. There were more live sets from legendary bands like the Wailing Souls and Morgan Heritage. Also, international, multi-platinum pop stars like Shaggy and Sean Paul, roots reggae singers like Etana, Jah Cure and Tarrus Riley and dancehall’s biggest names like Busy Signal, Bounty Killer and Cham performed. On the last night, not even the rain could stop the vibes. Stephen “Ragga” Marley continued his set inside the Atrium and brought out all the artists still on the ship for a 3-hour freestyle session, arguably one of the most epic performances in the history of reggae.

Inspiring, conscious band Morgan Heritage, showcased their musical chops on the cruise.

Inspiring, conscious band Morgan Heritage, showcased their musical chops on the cruise.

Whether patrons wanted to hear dub, ’90s dancehall, roots or today’s hits, there was something for everyone from sunrise to sunset at the various clubs and stages on board and even on-land in Jamaica. Hailing from across the globe: London’s David Rodigan, Japan’s Mighty Crown, Los Angeles’ Dub Club, and Jamaica’s own Stone Love, Renaissance and King Jammy’s were some of the renowned sound systems and DJs that took over the decks throughout the night.

Legendary sound system, Stone Love, shared the stage to add another level of merriment to the cruise.

Legendary sound system, Stone Love, shared the stage to add another level of merriment to the cruise.

Those who stayed up after midnight witnessed rare jam sessions with surprise performances from some of the artists on deck. Click the link below to see what transpired on the 5-day voyage:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bkkvynS8dg.For information on the 2015 Welcome To Jamrock Reggae Cruise, please visit www.welcometojamrockreggaecruise.com -OnPointPress.net.

Reggae songstress Etana releases new album “I Rise”

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By Tiffany Mea

Helmed by the legendary Jamaican multi-instrumentalist and producer Clive Hunt, Etana’s fourth studio album “I Rise” is available on October 28, 2014 on VP Records. The Jamaican singer-songwriter’s melodic power blended with Hunt’s rich arrangements sets this album apart as one of the best throughout her stellar career. For National Breast Cancer Awareness month, a portion of the album’s proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life of Weston when purchased at VP Records retail stores in New York and Florida or online at VPReggae.com.

Etana also kicked off her U.S. tour this month. This past week she performed on Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley’s first annual Welcome To Jamrock Reggae Cruise on October 22 as well as shows in Cape Cod, Boston and Philadelphia. She will promote the new album in New York before heading to the Midwest region and Texas for dates with reggae icon Cocoa Tea.

Reggae singer Etana returns to the scene with new album "I Rise."

Reggae singer Etana returns to the scene with new album “I Rise.”

Etana carries the torch as reggae’s leading lady with this classic collection of love ballads and roots anthems on her new album I Rise. With her poised assurance and newfound strength, she evolves spiritually, mentally, emotionally and musically. Whether she shedding light on the harsh ghetto realities on “Trigger,” “Ward 21 (Stenna’s Song)” and “How Long,” conveying romantic longings on “Richest Girl,” “Love Song,” and “By Your Side” or expressing her deep-rooted spirituality on the exquisite Bob Marley remake of “Selassie Is The Chapel,” the Marcia Griffith’s cover of “Stepping Out Of Babylon” “Emancipation” and “On My Way” – each of the album’s tracks is delivered with her soulful conviction.

Producer Clive Hunt (Stevie Wonder, Peter Tosh, Rolling Stones, The Wailers, Grace Jones, Jimmy Cliff) arranged an all-star team of the island’s musicians to contribute to the set – including himself, Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare, Grub Cooper, Handel Tucker, and Dean Fraser. “I Rise” follows Etana’s critically acclaimed albums “Better Tomorrow” (2013), “Free Expressions” (2011) and “The Strong One” (2008). “Better Tomorrow” was hailed by BBC as her “most seamless album to date and finest piece of songwriting yet” and Associated Press called it “mature and confident sound with top-notch lyrical content and unique vocals.”

“Free Expressions” won praise from NPR for being “a rarity: music that sermonizes, yet still sweetly serenades,” while Essence raved that her debut “The Strong One” exuded “poetic consciousness amid soul-stirring grooves rivals that of gifted neo-soulsters.” Etana’s “I Rise” is poised for equal success and will inspire, liberate and uplift a new generation.-OnPointPress.net.

 

Musical about flamboyant singer Sylvester, now off-Broadway, ends 10/5

sylvester

Scenes from the Off-Broadway musical about the last singer Sylvester.  Performances run through October 5 at Theater at St. Clement’s, located at 423 W. 46th Street, in Manhattan, New York.

New York, 9/27/2014: Late musician Sylvester was known for his flamboyant personality and his strong relationships in the music industry. His life story has been immortalized in an Off-Broadway musical, “Mighty Real: A Fabulous Sylvester Musical” which opened on September 5 and will run through October 5. The musical is now showing at Theatre at St. Clement’s, 423 W 46th Street with tickets ranging in prices from $25 to $84.50.

sylvester

Sylvester also performed with “Two Tons of Fun” the singers behind the bit “It’s Raining Men.”

The production is the brainchild of Anthony Ken LLC and Sheryl Lee Ralph’s The Diva Foundation. The musical is a celebration of the life of the original 1970s “Queen of Disco” Sylvester, featuring classic songs such as “(You Make Me Feel) Mighty Real,” “Dance (Disco Heat),” “Do Ya Wanna Funk,” and “You Are My Friend.”  The musical stars Anthony Wayne (Pippin, Anything Goes, Priscilla Queen of the Desert) as Sylvester and is based on a book by Anthony Wayne. The musical is directed by Anthony Wayne and Kendrell Bowman with choreography by Anastacia McCleskey, and musical direction by Alonzo Harris. The limited-engagement is scheduled through Sunday, October 5.

sylvester

The high-octane musical “Mighty Real: A Fabulous Sylvester Musical” has been entertaining New Yorkers since opening September 5. The musical runs through October 5.

The musical chronicles Sylvester’s life, through his point of view. Beyond all the trials and tribulations of his life – and the glitz and glamour of his lifestyle — Sylvester was not only a symbol for being Fabulous, but also a pioneer in the LGBTQ community for showing, unapologetically, you have to be true to who you are. “Mighty Real: A Fabulous Sylvester Musical” allows Sylvester’s classic songs to enter your ears, soar through your heart, and inspire your soul.

sylvester

Musical on Sylvester’s life is gearing up for its final week of performances. The last show is scheduled for October 5.

Sylvester James, Jr. (September 6, 1947 – December 16, 1988), better known as Sylvester, was an American disco and soul singer-songwriter. Known for his flamboyant, androgynous appearance, he became known in the United States as the “Queen of Disco.” Born in Watts, LA, Sylvester developed a love of singing through the gospel choirs of his Pentecostal church, which he left after being persecuted for his homosexual lifestyle.  An activist who campaigned against the spread of HIV/AIDS, Sylvester died from complications arising from the virus in 1988. In 2004, “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real),” was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame, and one year later in 2005, Sylvester himself was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame for his achievement as an artist.

The performance schedule is Tuesdays through Fridays at 8PM, Saturdays at 2PM and 8PM, and Sundays at 7PM. For tickets, call (866) 811-4111 or visit www.FabulousSylvester.com.-OnPointPress.net.