Jamaican Artist Displays Dazzling Masterpieces in New York

Artist Extraordinaire Mr. Paul Blackwood thanks longtime friend Mrs. Coleen Robinson-Cobblah for hosting a successful exhibition of his work in her home.

By Carmen Glover

Art usually evokes a myriad of emotions, ranging from awe to excitement and joy. The works created by self-taught Jamaican artist Paul Blackwood explode with vibrant colors and sceneries, often fueling lengthy discussions and intense concentration as patrons carefully study the pieces, trying to decipher subliminal themes. Recently, while exhibiting his artwork in Westchester County, New York and Alpharetta, Georgia, Blackwood joined his family, friends and patrons to discuss his hectic exhibition schedule and the range of emotions that his masterpieces elicit.

Some of Paul Blackwood’s breathtaking pieces of art.

“Since the year started I’ve been doing a lot of exhibitions across Jamaica and the United States,” Blackwood said during a lull in the Westchester County event, while explaining that he loved the Westchester location because “It has a nice vibe.”  But while art lovers were deep in thought trying to figure out multiple meanings and themes in his work, Blackwood laughed when he stated, “I don’t have a set theme for my art. I paint the way I feel. You can see abstract, semi-abstract or realism but I put my all into my work so when people purchase my work they are buying a piece of me.”

Onpointpress.net Editorial Director Carmen Glover, M.S.Ed. enjoys the exhibition with Coleen Robinson-Cobblah, MSN, and her sister Dionne Robinson.

Blackwood says his work has wide appeal. “My paintings are for everyone. People will say that they see a lot of houses and cottages in my work. That’s because I try to bring out a lot of my upbringing in my work,” he said. “I grew up in a little board house in Long Hill, Westmoreland, where you get the best bammy and fried fish in the world,” he said, laughing. Blackwood said that he caters to every taste and budget. “I do coasters, prints and originals so that there is something for everyone. My dream is to let as many persons as possible have a piece of my work,” he said. “If everyone across the globe could have a Blackwood painting, that would be nice.”

Happy patron shows off her outfit next to the artistic display.

Coleen Robinson-Cobblah, who hosted the Westchester event, said she is committed to showcasing his work as much as possible.

“I met Paul about five years ago, selling his work at Golden Krust in White Plains,” she said. “I loved his work and bought a few pieces. I found them inspirational. We ended our conversation like we knew each other for a long time.” She said that she and Blackwood’s friendship grew. “I see him as a big brother. I don’t see him as a friend. He’s family. When I go to Jamaica he treats my family well and I want to expose his work as much as I can. Last year, he hosted a show at my mother’s and this year I decided to host the exhibition here and invite my friends.”

Robinson-Cobblah was pleased with her guests’ feedback at the exhibition she hosted in her home. “The guests all love his work. They bought coasters and paintings. Some took his card to visit his website and purchase more of his work,” she said.

To view and purchase his work, visit www.paulblackwoodart.com.

‘Southside With You,’ captivatingly depicts the Obamas’ first date

Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyers depict the Obamas in 'Southside With You.'

Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyers depict the Obamas in ‘Southside With You.’

By Carmen Glover

With the paucity of movies depicting black love, ‘Southside With You,” an independent film which beautifully brings to life the first date of Michelle and Barack Obama, is as timely as it is inspirational. Parker Saywers resonates as Barack through spot-on mannerisms and Tika Sumpter, who is one of the producers shines as Michelle.

Set in Chicago’s south side, where the couple has roots, the film is written and directed by Richard Tanne, with singer John Legend serving as one of the executive producers.

In a scene from the movie, the first couple takes a walk on their first date.

In a scene from the movie, the eventual  first couple takes a walk on their first date.

In a running time of one hour and twenty-four minutes, the film captures the nuances of the couple’s different backgrounds, education, family and work lives as well as what pushes them to excel. The move fills in images from the first couples’ various recounting of several aspects of their first date. However, the dialogue is developed from the screenwriter’s imagination, since he obviously was not on the date with the couple.

Nonetheless, the film is a satisfying, charming portrayal of two attractive, educated, driven black professionals who took a chance and eventually re-wrote history. Treat yourself to this movie, you won’t regret it!--OnPointPress.net–

Christmas in Jamaica equals heaven on earth

Blue Lagoon, Port Antonio, Jamaica.

Blue Lagoon, Port Antonio, Jamaica is a breathtaking oasis of sapphire water, nestled between lush, verdant plants. Actress Brooke Shields starred in a movie of the same name, which was filmed in this exotic locale.

By Carmen Glover

You can call be biased, but in my view, experiencing Christmas on the idyllic island of Jamaica is nothing short of tasting a slice of heaven on earth.

The rich Christmas tradition starts with extensive cleaning of the home, wiping the walls or painting them if it is deemed necessary, applying whitewash to the stones and trees in the yard, hanging new curtains and adorning the beds with new linen. The cleaning is done over a period of days so that no stone is left unturned and every crevice and cranny is spotless.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, singers from the Salvation Army visit homes and sing various carols, while eager residents listen intently, enjoying the performance. Once that special treat is finished, a modest donation is given to the carolers. Most homes have Christmas decorations of some kind, with Christmas lights twinkling in trees or in the beautifully trimmed hedges, especially the hibiscus tinged borders often called ‘shoe-block.’

L-R: Dunn's River Falls, Christmas morning breakfast consists of Jamaica's national dish: ackee and salfish, roast breadfruit, fried plantains; Jamaican fruit 'rum' cake and the refreshing sorrel drink.

L-R: Dunn’s River Falls, Christmas morning breakfast consists of Jamaica’s national dish: ackee and salt-fish, roast breadfruit, Johnny cakes (fried dumplings), fried plantains, served with tea, coffee, cocoa or chocolate; Jamaican fruit ‘rum’ cake and the refreshing sorrel drink.

The next phase involves the food preparation, which includes some steps that begin long before Christmas, such as soaking dried fruits in wine to make the fruit/rum cake, boiling the sorrel and setting it aside so that the flavor can deepen, preparing fish, jerk and curry chicken, oxtail, roast beef and an assortment of fruit and vegetable salads. The food supply is purchased at ‘Christmas Market,’ a special marketplace where farmers show off their most impressive harvest, just in time for the holidays.

On Christmas Eve, most children and young adults flock to the malls to shop and spend time with friends, squeezing out the last minutes of social time before the big day. Early Christmas morning, some folks go to a brief Christmas service at church before returning home as the day of feasting begins with what is termed a ‘big or heavy’ breakfast, consisting of the national dish: Ackee and salt-fish, served with roast bread fruit and/or fried dumplings, which we call Johnny cakes. After break-fast the presents are opened with large measures of excitement and squeals. Throughout the day, as the strains of Christmas carols fill Jamaican homes, cake, fruits, sorrel and rum punch are consumed until it’s time for the tasty Christmas dinner.

A trip to Jamaica is incomplete without a visit to the famous Dunn's River Falls, a national treasure.

A trip to Jamaica is incomplete without a visit to the famous Dunn’s River Falls, a national treasure.

If a relative or friend is visiting from overseas, which we call ‘foreign,’ those from the USA typically come bearing red apples, in addition to an item of clothing. The apples were always viewed with a great deal of interest and to ensure that no one is left out, the apples, usually no more than two per household because of strict customs agents, is carefully sliced and each person gets to savor one slice at a minimum. The Jamaican apple is red, juicy and totally different in taste and texture from the American apple.

On Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, people visit each other and spend the rest of the weekend going to the beach, traipsing from Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios to public beaches in Negril and Montego Bay or basking in the healing waters of Milk River Bath in St. Thomas. Ah!! Christmas in Jamaica, lovingly called ‘Jamdown,’ heaven on earth! There is nothing like it!–OnPointPress.net–

 

Caribbean films showcased in annual ADIFF festival

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The African Diaspora International Film Festival, ADIFF 2015 is being held from November 27 through December 13 in three venues in Manhattan: Chelsea Bow Tie Cinemas, MIST Harlem and Teachers College, Columbia University. The selection of films include many featuring the Caribbean. The Caribbean is a reservoir of talent in many areas and, as time goes by, the Caribbean presence in films is more and more remarkable. The 23rd African Diaspora International Film Festival will showcase, as is its tradition, a selection of good films coming from the Caribbean and about its people.

The Black British Film Program has a selection of four films about the presence of Black people in the UK with a very strong Caribbean flavor in front and behind the camera.  Let The Music Talk by Yvonne Deutchmann is a 1981 musical documentary never screened in the USA before. It tells the story of black music in Britain, from the calypso of Lord Kitchener arriving on the SS Windrush in 1948, gospel choirs, griots from Grenada, steel pans in schools and at the Notting Hill Carnival, jazz, Afro-rock, soul-funk with the Real Thing, reggae with Misty in Roots and Eddy Grant.

The Story of Lovers Rock by Menelik Shabazz, a favorite of ADIFF, tells the story of Lovers Rock as a musical genre and gives a voice to the Caribbean descendant people who created that music and culture in the UK. Honeytrap by Rebecca Johnson plays out as a tragedy. It tells a story of fifteen-year-old Layla (Jessica Sula – Skins), a beautiful and naive Trinidadian girl who, freshly arrived from her native land, quickly embarks on a journey of love, sex, hip hop and violence.

Second Coming by Debbie Tucker Green is an emotional and intimate drama about a woman in a London family who faces a dilemma with her husband (Idris Elba) and the tensions and communication issues associated with her situation. Other films in the festival have a Caribbean flavor including NY premiere and festival centerpiece “Cu-Bop: Cuba – New York Music Documentary” by Japanese filmmaker Shinishi Takahashi. Separated by an ocean, two Cuban jazz musicians continue to perform in spite of the difficulties they face. César López is recognized as Cuba’s premier saxophonist, having founded his landmark jazz band, the Havana Ensemble, in his native country.

The gifted young pianist Axel Tosca lives in New York City, the leader of (U)NITY, a band which fuses Afro-Cuban culture with modern jazz and hip-hop. With this documentary for all music lovers, first-time filmmaker Shinichi Takahashi explores the African roots of Cuban jazz and documents what happens when expats return to the source of their inspiration. The screening will be followed by a concert with Axel Tosca and his band. Shot in Haiti and Bangladesh, A Journey of a Thousand Miles tells us a story of two countries that are embarked in a mutual discovery of sorts. A contingent of Muslim, Bangladeshi police women is deployed in Haiti to serve as UN Peacekeepers to maintain peace after the 2010 earthquake. We then learn, as the camera follows three of these Muslims women, about life in Haiti and Bangladesh and the challenges faced by the population in both countries.

Black / Nowa, a “Hood” film set in Montreal, Canada that chronicles the lives of four people – including several youths of Haitian descent – living in a neighborhood plagued by poverty and violence, aspiring to freedom and happiness. Sand Dollars by Laura Amelia Guzman and Israel Cardenas is a film from the Dominican Republic submitted to the Oscar competition in the foreign film category. Sand Dollars is the story of Noeli (Yanet Mojica) whose love affair with Anne (Geraldine Chaplin) a woman double her age, is a rare subject in films.

For more information about the 23rd Annual African Diaspora International Film Festival e-mail pr@nyadiff.org. Festival web site: www.nyadiff.org–OnPointPress.net–

 

 

Jamaican roots group Raging Fyah tours USA on Dub Rockers label

Roots group Raging Fyah is currently on tour in the USA.

Roots group Raging Fyah is currently on tour in the USA.

By Tiffany Mea

Raging Fyah, one of Jamaica’s emerging roots rock bands, is currently on tour in the USA after signing to Dub Rockers, the newest imprint from the world’s largest reggae distributor VP Records.

The five-member group, hailing from Kingston, Jamaica, will release multiple albums on Dub Rockers, which will include publishing and merchandise rights. Their first studio album with label is slated for 2016.  Throughout November, Raging Fyah will tour California – performing in Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles. Then, they head east for their New York City showcase on the 24th.  Billboard announced the full details on their signing, resulting in the band releasing an official statement about the news:.

Members of the roots group Raging Fyah.

Members of the roots group Raging Fyah.

“Many have compared our sound to the feel good reggae in the 1970s when it was all about the groove of the music, so signing with Dub Rockers/VP Records is like a match made in heaven being that they are known to be ‘miles ahead in reggae.’ With their experience in promoting reggae music from that time until now, we feel we are good hands.” the band’s statement read.

Chris Chin, president of VP Records added “Raging Fyah breeds a progressive sound while staying true to real roots reggae. You know it is made from the heart and can feel the positive energy they bring. It’s undeniable. This type of authenticity is rare and we are excited to help spread the word worldwide.”

destiny
This summer, prior to Raging Fyah’s signing, VP Records’ distribution arm VPAL reissued their first two albums Judgement Day (2011) and Destiny (2014) to get music enthusiasts acquainted with their soul-filled sound that has been making waves in the latest reggae renaissance.  Raging Fyah consists of Kumar Bent (lead singer), Courtland White (guitarist) Anthony Watson (drummer), Demar Gayle (keyboardist) and Delroy Hamilton (bassist).

Some of the members met at Edna Manley College of Visual & Performing Arts in Kingston, but the band itself didn’t form until 2006. Inspired by the likes The Wailers, Third World, Steel Pulse and Aswad, Raging Fyah tackles similar topics of socio-economics and politics with an underlying message of hope and inspiration. Fueled by passion, purpose and life experiences, their lyrics touch and motivate people from all walks of life and their lush lively instrumentation soothes the soul. Their vintage sound coupled with a fresh contemporary flare gives them a particular edge over their predecessors.

Members of the roots group Raging Fyah.

Members of the roots group Raging Fyah.

Since their debut, their infectious vibes have been spreading like wildfire. The band has already made a name for themselves in their native country playing large stage shows such as Reggae Sumfest, Rebel Salute and Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival. They have also developed a devoted following internationally, after performing on South American stages as well as headlining major European reggae festivals (Summerjam, Rototom Sunsplash and Garance).

This spring and summer, Raging Fyah has been touring Europe non-stop – performing at both intimate venues and large-scale festivals throughout France, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Germany Poland, Austria, Belgium, New Caledonia and more. They are steadily capturing the hearts of North American listeners too, earning highly-coveted performances at annual concerts like Sierra Nevada Reggae Festival in 2014. More U.S. dates will be announced for the rest of the year and 2016.  Watch Raging Fyah’s “Irie Vibe” off their latest album, Destiny.

Raging Fyah will be on tour in the US on Nov. 19 in San Francisco, CA at San Francisco State University; Nov. 20 in Los Angeles, CA, at The Mint;  Nov. 22 in Oakland, CA at The New Parish and Nov. 24 in New York, NY @ Milk River–OnPointPress.net–

Jamaica wins big at South Africa’s annual diplomatic fair

Left to right: Mr. John Clarke, Minister Counsellor in JHC Pretoria, High Commissioner Spencer, Mrs. Refilwe Nyathi, Specialist, International Relations Unit of the City of Tshwane

Left to right: Mr. John Clarke, Minister Counsellor in JHC Pretoria, High Commissioner Cheryl Spencer, Mrs. Refilwe Nyathi, Specialist, International Relations Unit of the City of Tshwane

The Jamaican High Commission in Pretoria walked away with the top prize for the Most Authentic Stall at the Annual Diplomatic Fair held at the grounds of the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa, on Saturday 31 October 2015. This award is the second highest of those granted by the organisers – the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and the City of Tshwane (Pretoria) and is the award sponsored by the Mayor of the City of Tshwane.

A patron expressing appreciation for Bob Marley

A patron expressing appreciation for Bob Marley

The Diplomatic Fair is one of the key events on South Africa’s calendar and is held every year to allow the 134 Embassies and High Commissions, as well as International Organizations, based in South Africa, to showcase their history, culture, food and provide information on trade, investment and other opportunities in their countries. As it is also intended to educate the ordinary South African citizen about the diversity of countries, it is a free event, open to the public. Along with the most Authentic, Stalls are judged on, inter alia, the most Informative, the most flavourful, the most interactive and the most entertaining.

H.E. Cheryl Spencer, Jamaican High Commissioner to the Republic of South Africa receiving the award on behalf of the High Commission from Ms. Nomthandazo Maseko of the City of Tshwane. Looking on from left to right are the Acting Mayor of Tshwane, Ms. Nozipho Tyobeka-Makeke and the Acting Speaker of the City of Tshwane, Ms. Refilwe Kekana

H.E. Cheryl Spencer, Jamaican High Commissioner to the Republic of South Africa receiving the award on behalf of the High Commission from Ms. Nomthandazo Maseko of the City of Tshwane. Looking on from left to right are the Acting Mayor of Tshwane, Ms. Nozipho Tyobeka-Makeke and the Acting Speaker of the City of Tshwane, Ms. Refilwe Kekana

Jamaica’s Stall featured product samples, wide ranging information on Jamaican cuisine, complete with photographs of prepared Jamaican dishes as well as on Jamaica’s economy, with emphasis on agriculture production (including references to marijuana and the amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act). The latter which was intended to debunk the myths in South Africa surrounding the role of marijuana in Jamaica, achieved the desired result and sparked much interest and debate among those who visited the Stall.

In addition, patrons who flocked to the stall were able to sample the “Jerk Chicken Special” – a meal of Jerk chicken, festival, a slice of rum cake and rum punch–OnPointPress.net–

Baltimore wedding inspires hope that others will find love too

The happy couple, after exchanging vows, walk down the aisle, basking in the glow of love.

The radiant couple, Mr. and Mrs. Antonio Johnson, walk down the aisle basking in the glow of love, after exchanging wedding vows in a lovely gazebo, a fitting setting for the memorable event.

By Kimberly Brown

I recently attended a wedding in Baltimore, Maryland, and I was overjoyed to witness the union of two beautiful spirits: Ms. Brittany Scott and Mr. Antonio Johnson.The event filled my heart with a range of emotions, inspiring me to share my thoughts about love, not only the type of love that is shared between a husband and wife, but also self-love, and love for mankind.

It truly saddens my heart that we are living in a world where society is increasingly losing souls and lives due to a lack of love. It’s extremely difficult to turn on the television without being overwhelmed with headlines that represent volatile acts, stemming from emotions of hurt, anger and hate. The acts come from negative energy instead of love, an emotion that is not acknowledged as much as it should be.

Groomsmen

Groom Mr. Antonio Johnson, center, poses with his groomsmen (L-R): Mr. Kristina Adams, Mr. Richard Holmes, Mr. Diamond Chism, Mr.Tristan Johnson, Mr. Best Man Mr. Shannon Butler, Mr. Antoine Diggs and Mr. Shawn Johnson.

What if those destructive emotions were outweighed by love? I believe that love can change people’s hearts, minds and behavior. Love is a feeling, not just a thought, and it flows from the heart and shows itself in actions.

Social media plays a huge role in creating a false sense of love and acceptance through “Likes” and the number of followers people have on sites such as Facebook and Instagram. I’ve overheard discussions where individuals have expressed how unimportant they feel, simply because they lack a strong social media following. Prior to the advent of social media, what was the foundation of our self-confidence and self- love?

Grammy-award winning singers including icons Dionne Warwick and Diana Ross is a favorite among confirmed romantics. The lyrics were written by Hal David and the music was composed by Burt Bacharach. It was first recorded by Jackie DeShannon, and released on April 15, 1965, climbing to No.7 on the US Hot 100 charts in July 1965.

Grammy Award-winning singers including icons Dionne Warwick and Diana Ross have sung versions of the ballad “What The World Needs Now, Is Love,” a favorite among confirmed romantics. The lyrics were written by Hal David and the music was composed by Burt Bacharach. It was first recorded by Jackie DeShannon and released on April 15, 1965, climbing to No.7 on the US Hot 100 charts in July 1965.

I was brought up in a household where I was told daily how much I was loved. I was blessed. I was valued. I was cherished. That cocoon of love and validation caused me to blossom into a confident adult, oozing with self-confidence and self-love.

Unfortunately, not everyone had that same experience growing up so as adults some of us tend to seek love and acceptance in the world, which causes us to become susceptible to people who have ulterior motives. Yet, the reality is that the most essential form of love comes from the home. Self-love comes from within and should be encouraged by loved ones. However, we should all take time to love ourselves and not always seek it from others. True love can best be described as a vibrant ripple effect: first loving oneself, then allowing the love we have in our hearts to pour out to others in the world. Here is the video of the wedding.

bridesmaids

Breathtaking bride Brittany Scott (center), poses with her bridesmaids (L-R): Ms. Angela Oauli, Ms. Jade Thomas, Matron of Honor Mrs. Lakeisha Scott-Skrine, sister of the bride; Maid of Honor Ms. Eboni Ross, Ms. Shantear Meredith, and Ms. Monique Madison.

There are millions of youth who flood social media every single day confusing love with followers who are trolling their profiles. But that is not love. Feeling sad because of the perception that you have an inadequate number of social media followers or a low re-post count is alarming. The damage that is caused to the self-esteem of the young, and adults alike, because they value social media numbers instead of quality relationships, is a shocking and potentially harmful trend.

the-world-needs

The world most definitely needs more love, however, self-love is essential for a healthy life. Self-love provides growth in areas of our lives that we rarely think it could affect. We should all give self-love a try in its more authentic form. Love has no color, boundaries or preferences. Love needs to be boldly expressed, carefully nurtured and forever cherished.

The happy couple, Mr. and Mrs. Antonio Johnson, tie the knot in the presence of loved ones.

The happy couple, Mr. and Mrs. Antonio Johnson, tie the knot in the presence of loved ones.

Based on all that I thought that I knew about love, attending the nuptials of Mr. and Mrs. Antonio Johnson allowed me to see that love, when displayed in its purest form as theirs was, is an expression of self-acceptance and appreciation for another person.

Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Antonio Johnson on your union. The wedding was a testament to a love that warms the heart, soothes the soul and inspires hope that more people will dedicate their lives to valuing and honoring love–OnPointPress.net–

Kimberly Brown is a journalist, producer, public speaker and media relations executive whose work has appeared in XXL magazine, BET, NBC and National Geographic Channel. Follow her on twitter@kbbrown80.