Street Roc: Exciting, versatile entertainers who thrill fans, showcase talents

The Street Roc Label has a cadre of diverse, talented musicians who bring individualism to the label.

The Street Roc Label has a cadre of diverse, talented musicians who bring individualism to the label.

By Carmen Glover

An enterprising group of youthful entertainers who cemented a strong bond of friendship while growing up in the Bronx, New York, the birthplace of hip hop, is poised to storm the music scene from their dual base of operations in Atlanta, Georgia and New York City with a plethora of musical offerings under their music umbrella, The Street Roc Label LLC.

Inspired by genres that span reggae, hip hop, R&B and Rock & Roll, the ambitious musicians are passionate about their craft and determined to make an indelible mark in the music industry. Despite having their own unique styles, they are also following in the footsteps of other memorable groups such as Ruff Ryders, which was helmed by DMX and the Fugees, which paved the way for explosive careers for its members Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel.

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With NWA’s biographical film, “Straight Outta Compton,” dominating the movie theaters this past summer and industry buzz building about upcoming releases chronicling the career of Snopp Dogg, sometimes known as Snoop Lion, the Street Roc roster mates see a viable path to carving out a competitive niche for themselves in the industry and solidifying their reputations as serious, conscious, hard-working, savvy musicians and budding entrepreneurs.

But, just like the 1985 blockbuster movie “Krush Groove” told the story of hip hop trendsetters Russell Simmons, Run-DMC and LL Cool J, and enigmatic musician Prince set the stage for independent producing when he left Warner Brothers after a public spat, the Street Roc team members are determined to have ownership of their work and shape the trajectory of their careers, a lesson many musicians fail to learn until they have lost all their earnings to extravagance and flash.

Kristoph Francis developed the name for the record label and takes great interest in the success of all the artists.

Kristoph Francis developed the name for the record label and takes great interest in the success of all the artists. His demo, “Critique Me,” was released in 2014.

Kristoph Francis, 23, one of the label’s co-founders, created the name for the company based on reactions to his childhood musical performances and because the name, Street Roc,”has a nice ring to it.”

“I came up with the name when I was in high school because everywhere we went we had the streets rocking,” he recalled. Francis, who played the Congo drums in church at age 11, describes the drums as instruments that infuse all of his musical repertoire. “When I’m making my beats, I think of the drums because they give me my music sense,” he said, explaining that his cousin plays the bass drums for reggae singer Capleton, who is known for introducing the element of fire to his extraordinarily spectacular shows.

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The Street Roc Label is poised for takeoff after releasing mixed tapes “Divine Adolescence,” in 2012 and “Too Geek’d For The Streets,” in 2013.

Francis said he was influenced to pursue a career in music by Michael Jackson, Jay-Z, his stepfather and a host of artists, including reggae crooner Sanchez, who came around the family often during Francis’ childhood. Meeting Young Jeezy and M.E.M.P.H.I.S. Bleek, who signed Francis’ book of raps, piqued his interest and fueled his drive to hone his musical skills.

As he puts the finishing touches on a mixed tape, which features singles such as “Back Home” and “It’s All Yours,” Francis reminisces about the day he showed his grandmother his homework, which posed the question: What do you want to be when you grow up? Francis wrote “a rapper,” which elicited much consternation and the response: “You can’t be a rapper,” which caused him to internalize his dreams until his adult mind was capable of developing a plan of action to aggressively respond to the tugging of his heart-strings and live his musical truth.

Kristoph Francis is focused on creating beats and taking the label to the fans.

Kristoph Francis is focused on creating beats and taking the label to the fans.

While also having an interest in music, the experience has been somewhat different for Francis’ brother, Malcolm ‘Dolo Pierre’ Jackson, 25, a co-founder of The Street Roc Label. Jackson combines his experience as an actor, songwriter, producer and musical artist to create a career path that is boundless in scope and richly textured with layers of possibilities.

“A lot of my musical and acting experiences come from the church because my mom was heavy in the church and I used to try to join her on the choir and they would let me sing,” he said, a thespian in his own right.

Malcolm "Dolo Pierre" Jackson delivers range as a multi-talented songwriter, producer, actor, musician and performer.

Malcolm “Dolo Pierre” Jackson delivers range as a multi-talented songwriter, producer, actor, musician and performer.

Citing reggae legend Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley and iconic entertainer Michael Jackson as his two greatest influences musically, Jackson strives for range in his music.

“I’ve done reggae, hip-hop, R&B,” he said, while explaining that all of the artists represented by the label “take pride in writing our own lyrics.”

Malcolm "Dolo Pierre" is looking forward to releasing a full album early in 2016.

Malcolm “Dolo Pierre” is looking forward to releasing a full album early in 2016.

Jackson, whose musical talents gained an audience when he participated in the chorus in elementary school and the band in middle school, said that being raised in a household with ‘musically inclined’ parents made a huge impact on his sensibilities.

“Music developed naturally and soon I wanted to record,” he said.  As he continues to follow his heart, Jackson said that he plans to release an EP of “all original music early in 2016,” and strives to achieve the taste of success, which, for him, is “the look on everybody’s faces telling me that nobody has any question about my talents.”

Kristine "Phresh" Walker is the lone female on the label and she cherishes her role as a deep thinker.

Kristene “Phresh” Walker is the lone female on the label and she cherishes her role as a deep thinker.

Kristene “Phresh” Walker, 26, spent the first seven years of her life in the Bronx before relocating to Atlanta, Georgia, where the other members of the label gradually transitioned.

“Once we all came down to Atlanta, it solidified what we were trying to do,” Walker said, describing herself as a thinker.  “I think a lot and I want to bring a lot of thought back into music because back in the day it was more about lyrics and I’m trying to bring it back to that and integrate the message back into music and the rhythm,” she said.

phresh

Walker, whose musical interest was awakened at age 13, also performed in church as a child. A solid artist, who sees her role as akin to Lauryn Hill with the Fugees, is striving to awaken “a more conscious and cultured element to the current crop of music, like Erykah Badu and Missy Elliott.”  For her, being a member of the Street Roc family is comforting.

“The team plays a big part because us being together pushes me to create something that never existed before,” she said. As she continues to promote her mixed tape, “Loud Silence,” which debuted in April 2015, she is also busy working on new music. “Being able to influence others and have a say, gives me a high and pushes me forward,” she said.

Lavar "Stiff Tha Godz" Stiff, is creative and entrepreneurial, a solid combination for success.

Lavar “Stiff Tha Godz” Stiff, is creative and entrepreneurial, a solid combination for success. As he promotes his mixed tape “High Times,” he utilizes concepts he learned while completing all but one semester in undergraduate studies in Business Administration. He hopes to complete his studies soon.

Lavar “Stiff Tha Godz” Stiff, 28, another of the label’s co-founders, was enthralled when he first saw Tupac Shakur having a merry time on MTV in his classic Dr Dre-produced hit “California Love,” followed by a video by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

“When I saw Tupac in ‘California Love’ I knew I wanted to be a rapper. He inspired me and MTV opened up a new gateway for me,” said Stiff, who was 8 years old at the time. “I started acting like I was on stage, like I was performing.”

Once the music bug hit, Stiff began to formulate a plan to make his dream become a reality. But he realized that he was also interested in the business side of the music industry so he enrolled in college and completed three and a half years of a degree in business administration.

"High Time" is an ode to marijuana and its impact on society.

“High Times” is an ode to marijuana and its impact on society.

“As far as entrepreneurship, I was influenced by Master P because he came from nothing to become one of the first Black millionaires just from doing rap. I’m an artist. I write music, I rap and I helped put the label together by forming the foundation,” Stiff said, while explaining that he has a lot of different things that he would like to accomplish, including learning to play the guitar. “For the future, I’m interested in film, movies and incorporating them into the musical aspect, like Michael Jackson and his long-form videos,” he said.

For a fledgling musical entrepreneur who did not grow up around much musical influence, Stiff nonetheless developed an eclectic taste for music and an admiration for genres including reggae, hip-hop, old school R&B, Rock & Roll and Blues by the incomparable B.B. King and Muddy Waters. Yet, Stiff celebrates marijuana each chance he gets and lauds the herb on his recent EP, “High Times,” which was released on September 23 2015, at https://soundcloud.com/stiff-tha-godz/sets/high-times.

Devon "D.O.C" Riley, the youngest member of the label, is eager to make his mark in the industry.

Devon “D.O.C” Riley, the youngest member of the label, is eager to make his mark in the industry.

The youngest member of the group, Devon “D.O.C” Riley, 21, looked no further than two hip hop legends as a template for inspiration.

“Nas and Jay-Z influenced me because they are able to express themselves and the way they deliver their lyrics, they have something to say,” he explained. Riley developed an ear for music from his father, who is a DJ. “I was exposed to music at a young age. I felt the music. I used to be more on the reggae side but as I grew I dabbled into different types of music because I don’t want to be put in a box. My focus is to get people to understand both types of music—-reggae and hip hop,” he said, pondering the musical landscape.

 

Gotham City is DOC's take on the nuances and mysteries of New York City lifestyles.

“Gotham City” is D.O.C’s take on the nuances and mysteries of New York City lifestyles.

Riley, who is very interested in scary movies and hopes to find ways to integrate that interest into his music, is currently savoring success with his new song “Gotham City,” which is available on iTunes.

“People have different views looking out on the world. Music is the way people express themselves and I’m working on a project on duality, to use music to explain everything,” he said.

Alexander “Spazz’ Momon, 26, rounds out the crop of label mates, who function like family by nurturing each other’s independent projects while collectively investing in the success of the label as an entity.

Alexander "Spazz" Momon, is refining his compilations so that he can release his full album on November 1, 2015.

Alexander “Spazz” Momon, is refining his compilations so that he can release his full album on November 1, 2015. His single, “Bon Jour Mary” appears on the “High Times” EP.

“We all went to high school together and we have different styles. My musical style is more energetic and technical, like Busta Rhymes, Eminem and DMX,” he said. After careful thought, Momon, who also holds down a job so that he can pay his bills while building his musical career strategically, explained that he has “been influenced by pioneering rappers such as Kool Moe Dee and LL Cool J.”

“My dad put me on to them and Wu-Tang Clan and my mother used to work in the music industry,” he said, revealing that when he first heard Rhymes’ “Dangerous,” at age 11, he was so captivated by the animation and high-octane flow that he would sneak home early from school to listen to the song over and over. Like his label mates, Momon is hard at work compiling an EP.

“My mixed tape will be ready on November 1 but I recently released the single “Bon Jour Mary” on the “High Times” EP,” he said. As he charges full speed ahead with his musical career, Momon has one objective: “I want people to understand the struggle, the triumph and the love for music,” he said.

As the multi-talented entertainers on the Street Roc Label LLC pour their efforts into a distinctive musical repertoire, they create individual projects and bring new artists along the journey to prominence. While they contemplate organizing a Street Roc tour, the label mates expect to soon hear the sweet sounds of success reverberating from coast to coast and across the globe, as they finally get their career recognition and financial rewards.

Learn more about this prolific, dynamic group of musicians and what’s next in their careers at StreetRocMusic.comOnPointPress.net

Maxi Priest headlines VP Record’s 35th anniversary concert, 6/27, in Central Park

L-R Maxi Priest, Gyptian, Bunji Garlin, Faye Lyons.

L-R Maxi Priest, Gyptian, Bunji Garlin, Faye Lyons will perform at Central Park’s Summerstage today, June 27, 2015.

By Tiffany Mea

VP Records has teamed up with SummerStage to celebrate the label’s 35th year in business. From VP’s artist roster, reggae stars Maxi Priest and Gyptian as well as soca royalty Bunji Garlin and Fay Ann Lyons will take the stage in NYC’s Central Park for this momentous occasion. DJs Bobby Konders and Jabba of Massive B will also provide sounds throughout the day. The free concert kicks off on Saturday, June 27,  from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

This year marks the 35th anniversary when VP Records’ founders Vincent and his wife Patricia Chin moved their headquarters from Kingston, Jamaica, to Jamaica, New York,  transforming their operations into the largest Caribbean music company worldwide. There will also be a special VP Records 35th anniversary pop-up exhibit entitled A Reggae Music Journey, which designed by acclaimed artist Michael Thompson. The display will be located outside of the event for all the patrons to enjoy.

Maxi Priest.

Maxi Priest.

“VP Records is proud to bring this all-star lineup into the heart of Manhattan. We’re all looking forward to celebrating the 35th anniversary with an historic day of reggae and soca music in the park,” said VP Records Senior Director of Marketing Brian Greenspoon. VP Records co-founder Patricia Chin said: “SummerStage’s 30th Anniversary and VP Records’ 35th Anniversary are significant milestones that we are honored to acknowledge together at the prestigious Central Park venue.”

After 35 years, Miss Pat, as her staff affectionately refers to her, is still very much involved with the day-to-day operations of VP Records.

Following several partnerships with VP Records, The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) joins the label again as an official sponsor for the event. They will give away travel and merchandise on site. JTB’s Business Development Manager Kris DaCosta says, “the VP Records and SummerStage collaboration is a great fit for us. Reggae music is a huge part of Jamaica’s storied history and this event gives us a great opportunity to share with New Yorkers the good vibes to be had on Island.”

Gyptian

Gyptian

SummerStage is also celebrating their 30th anniversary this year. SummerStage is a program of City Parks Foundation that presents performances of outstanding artistic quality, free of charge, to serve the diverse communities of New York City. To celebrate their 30th anniversary, they have extended the season from May to October, and added more than 20 free shows in Central Park and 15 neighborhood parks across the city.

Maxi Priest and Gyptian performed their latest singles and Patricia Chin appeared on FOX 5 Good Day NY morning show to preview the event on June 26. Patricia Chin also received the Lifetime Achievement Award on June 25 at the 2015 American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) Libera Awards. She is the first female recipient to be presented with this honor.

With over 15 million albums sold worldwide, multiple Grammy nominations and Top 10 Billboard hits (including the No. 1 smash “Close To You”) – the most successful solo act in British reggae history, Maxi Priest, continues to hit the road throughout 2015 in support of his first studio album in almost a decade, Easy To Love (VP Records). Easy To Love is a fine representation of pop, reggae and R&B blended together in one set. The title track was a No. 1 hit on reggae charts last summer, evidence that Maxi Priest has a gift for staying fresh.

Fay Ann Lyons

Fay Ann Lyons

“Hearts Across The World” is a song for our times and pleas for people of all races to love one another. The soulful “Without A Woman” features Jamaican legend Beres Hammond and even echoes the themes and intensity of James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s World.” Maxi continues to tug on women’s heartstrings with irresistible tributes of enduring affection on “Loving You Is Easy,” “Holiday” and his rendition of John Mayer’s “Gravity.
Jamaican reggae singer Gyptian broke into the reggae scene in 2005 with his string of hits like “Serious Times” “Beautiful Lady” and “Mama, Don’t Cry.” He hit international stardom in 2010 with his critically acclaimed album Hold You and its RIAA certified Gold title track (produced by Ricky Blaze), which featured a Nicki Minaj remix, and earned him a 2010 MOBO and Soul Train award.

Gyptian just released his new single “All On Me” and his latest fourth studio album Sex, Love and Reggae, which peaked at #1 on the Billboard Reggae Album chart, is a marked departure from his previous releases and unveils another layer of his artistry. The musically diverse set takes the listener from dancehall to soca to global pop and R&B sounds and features an eclectic mix of production from Jamaica – including Shane C. Brown. Justus Arison and Stanley “Rellee” Hayden, Russian and Linton “TJ” White – and is co-executive produced by Jerry “Wonda” Duplessis (Miguel, Mary J. Blige, Lupe Fiasco, the Fugees).

Bunji Garlin

Bunji Garlin

Born Ian Alvarez, the Trinidadian ragga soca star Bunji Garlin is known for blending of soca with dancehall. Hailed recently by Rolling Stone as “America’s first soca star,” Garlin has clearly taken his native country’s genre to new heights. His single “Differentology (Ready For The Road),” which was remixed by Major Lazer & Busta Rhymes, was a massive hit in North America more than a year after its release in the Caribbean.

In 2013, the single received a Soul Train Award win, was featured on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, won NYC’s HOT 97 FM’s Battle of The Beats competition and was chosen by NPR as one of the year’s favorite anthems as well as MTV Iggy’s Song of the Year. Garlin introduced soca to more mainstream music circuits by performing at last year’s SXSW, CMJ Music Festival, FADER Fort, Mad Decent Boat Party and alongside Jillionaire and Major Lazer during their 2014 tour stint.

Fay Ann Lyons is already a superstar in her native country of Trinidad and across the Caribbean. During Trinidad & Tobago’s Carnival season’s annual competitions, Fay Ann has set the record as the only female artist to score the Carnival Road March title three times, taking the crown in 2003, 2008 and 2009. In 2009, she also won International Soca Monarch in Groovy, People’s Choice and Power category and is the first soca artist ever to win that soca ‘triplet’ of titles.

In addition to these feats, she has taken home 17 awards between the COTT (Copyright Organization of Trinidad and Tobago), NACC (National Action Cultural Committee Trinidad and Tobago) and SAO (Soca Awards Organization). The Point Fortin native has soca in her DNA. Her father Superblue, a soca legend who has won the Carnival Road March title nine times and Trinidad Soca Monarch competition seven times, was instrumental in honing Fay Ann’s skills as a songwriter and performer. She became a front-liner for the band Invazion led by Naya George and today is an official member of the Asylum band (previously known as “Censation”), founded by her husband and soca royalty Bunji Garlin. Fay Ann continues to tour worldwide and is recording her first solo full-length album on VP Records.

Massive B was formed over 10 years ago with DJ Bobby Konders’ vision of starting his own sound system. At its start, the voice behind Massive B was none other than Jabba. There have been many additions to Massive B as it continues to grow. New members include Big Dawg, Chudney Shotta, D-Life and X-Man, among others. Massive B has toured all over the globe, playing major festivals and dances, and representing NYC along the way.

Locally, Massive B is a Brooklyn staple, performing annually at the borough’s West Indian Day Parade and weekly at the Buzz Nightclub for ‘Fire Sundays,’ where they spin the hottest reggae, dancehall, hip hop, R&B, and soca music. –OnPointPress.net.

 

Reggae Gold 2015, featuring a musical mix, is set for summer release

reggae

By Tiffany Mea

For over 20 years, the world’s #1 Caribbean music compilation Reggae Gold brings the genre’s top hits into one must-have collection for the masses. 2015’s installment, out July 17, 2015 on VP Records, is filled with the season’s freshest sounds in roots, dancehall, lover’s rock and pop-fused reggae from a diverse group of talent.

Busy Signal is featured on Reggae Gold 2015

Busy Signal is featured on Reggae Gold 2015

From the Canadian pop supergroup Magic’s #1 Billboard single “Rude” to comedian/actor/singer Eddie Murphy’s return to reggae on his latest single “Oh Jah Jah,” (following his 1993 Shabba Ranks collab “I Was A King”) – there is no shortage of crossover appeal on Reggae Gold 2015.

Chroniixx is featured on Reggae Gold 2015

Chroniixx is featured on Reggae Gold 2015

This year’s installation features a multitude female artists reigning in reggae today – from emerging stars like the Rastafarian singer Jah9 (“Avocado”), reggae pop princesses’ Toian (“Love It”) and Ikaya (“My Man”) to Jamaica’s leading ladies, like dancehall diva Spice (“Conjugal Visit” ft. Vybz Kartel), the soulful songstress Etana (“I Rise”) and roots reality lyricist Queen Ifrica (“I Can’t Breathe”). The latter song carries a strong message to stop police brutality and racial profiling worldwide.

etana

Etana is featured on Reggae Gold 2015.

The set also delves into exclusive new music from Jamaica’s top male artists. Jah Cure reveals his latest single “Made In California” off his upcoming album The Cure and the legendary crooner Beres Hammond delivers his stellar new anthem “Jamaican International Dance.” Singer-songwriter Christopher Martin turns heads with the island’s chart climber “I’m A Big Deal,” while overnight sensation Gully Bop proves ground with his popular tracks ” My God Dem Nuh Bad Like We” and “Body Specialist.” Dancehall star Busy Signal drops lyrical fire on the flirtatious fun track “Text Message,” and Gyptian unveils his latest steamy single “All On Me.” Every song counts on this collection.–OnPointPress.net.

 

 

 

 

 

Exciting reggae band Third World releases new music with Damian Marley

 

Third World

Jamaica’s beloved reggae band Third World releases new music, produced by Damian Marley.

By Tiffany Mea

As Black Music Month is celebrated across the globe, Jamaica’s iconic reggae band Third World is celebrating a very significant milestone–more than 40 years in music. Long admired as one of the most pivotal reggae bands of all time, Third World will release its first major song of the year “YimMasGan” on June 16, 2015 on Ghetto Youths International.

The song is produced by Damian Marley and will also be accompanied with a new music video directed by Jamaica’s own Ras Kassa, is a fresh take on the 1974 original track by The Abyssinians. Yim mas gan means let him be praised in the ancient Ethiopian Amharic language. This is the second song written by The Abyssinians that Third World recorded. The first was “Satta Massagana,” released in 1975 on Chris Blackwell’s Island Records.

Reggae band Third World bas been providing musical excellence for more than 40 years.

Reggae band Third World bas been providing musical excellence for more than 40 years.

“This song is almost as if we have come full circle. When we recorded ‘Satta Massagana,’ it was one of our very first recordings. In fact, it was the lead song on our first self-titled album,” said Founding member Cat Coore. “This song is giving praise and thanks to the most high, Jah Rastafari, for his presence, ever-guiding hand and inspirational vibration that we all feel within the Rasta community. Recording this song with Jr. Gong makes it even more special to us. With Damian’s production skills mixed with his musicians that helped create the song, we feel it is one of the best covers not just done by Third World, but ever done by anyone.”

“The record has a lot of meaning to Third World because it’s giving praises to Ethiopia and the King. The writing of the Abyssinians music was so spiritually high, that is like a prayer. It is like a chant and we just connect with it. Also, Damian Marley adding his touch to the whole thing brings a new light to the music and its meaning,” said group member Richard Daley.

“I’m honored to be working with some of my musical heroes. Third World has played a great role in my development as an artist and I’m proud to be a part of their latest project,” expresses Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley.

Vintage Third World image.

Vintage Third World image.

With 10 Grammy nominations, sold-out tours worldwide, a loyal fan base and a catalog of Top 40 Billboard charted smash hits including “Now That We Found Love,” which was remade with much success by the late Jamaica-born rapper Heavy D and the fan favorites “Try Jah Love,” and “96 Degrees in the Shade,” Third World has been one of the most consistently successful reggae bands. Third World’s reggae fusion style mixes R&B, funk, pop, rock, dance hall and hip-hop into the genre, making the group one of Jamaica’s most popular crossover acts among international audiences.

The band has toured and worked with the late great Bob Marley, including opening for Marley’s first world tour in 1978, Stevie Wonder, who produced two of the groups’ albums in the 80’s which were released with CBS, Carlos Santana and the Jackson Five, opening for their first concert in Jamaica. Third World has also shared the stage with the likes of Bono of U2, Sting, The Police, Whitney Houston, Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, Jimmy Buffett, Eric Clapton and Marc Anthony and landed national TV performances on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with David Letterman, Arsenio Hall Show and many more. Third World lost its distinctive lead singer William “Bunny Rugs’ Clarke to cancer February 2014, during Reggae Month.

Connect with the group on social media @FB | www.Facebook.com/ThirdWorldBand,
Twitter | www.twitter.com/ThirdWorldBand and IG | www.instagram.com/ThirdWorldBand–OnPointPress.net.

 

Atlanta honors legendary singer Gladys Knight with street-naming event

Gladys Knight has received numerous honors throughout her career, having a street named after her is a first though.

Gladys Knight has received numerous honors throughout her career, having a street named after her is a first.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Gladys Knight has won multiple awards during her illustrious singing career and has been recognized for her humanitarian efforts and entrepreneurial success, but Tuesday June 9, was a first for Knight as the city of Atlanta named a street in her honor.

“Gladys Knight Highway” will not only stand as a testament to the success of the Georgia native, but also serve as a reminder of Knight’s presence in the first place she called home and immortalized in her hit song “Midnight Train to Georgia.”

Knight (c) is surrounded by the numerous city officials that supported the bill that allowed for the street to be named in honor of Knight.

Entertainer Gladys Knight (c) is surrounded by the numerous city officials who supported the bill that allowed for the street to be named in her honor.

“I am most happy for all of us, all of you. When you ride down the street and see my name, have some pride in it to know that you have a piece of it, ” Knight said in accepting the award.

A number of invited guests and media gathered at the Georgia State Capitol building to witness the unveiling of the street named in Knight’s honor. Among those gathered were members of the state Senate, which unanimously passed the bill that would name State Route 9 from Peachtree Street to 14th Street Gladys Knight Highway.

Knight poses with state Senator Donzella James.

Singer Gladys Knight poses with state Senator Donzella James.

Senator Donzella James, describing the inspiration for the event, said that her late husband Elmo was a huge fan of Gladys Knight and the Pips and would surely “be smiling down from heaven right now.” Senator James said that it was important for Knight to be able to enjoy her honor rather than have the dedication posthumously, as is often the case.

Other public officials, including Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, offered warm memories on the impact Knight’s music and other ventures have had on the state of Georgia and Atlanta specifically.

Knight poses with some of her family that joined in her celebration, her cousin James (c) and her brother Bubba (r).

Gladys Knight poses with some of her family members who joined in the celebration, her cousin James (c) and her brother Bubba (r).

Knight was joined by many family members as she received the rare honor. Among the many who were able to attend were her brother Merald “Bubba” Knight, and cousin whose nickname will forever be associated with Gladys Knight, James “Pip” Woods.

Bubba and Knight’s son Shanga Hankerson spoke at the welcoming ceremony. Hankerson is the manager of Gladys Knight Chicken and Waffles restaurants.

Knight displays the street sign bearing her name while standing with her husband William McDowell.

Gladys Knight displays the street sign bearing her name while standing with her husband William McDowell.

While Knight was surrounded by siblings, children, and extended family, she was supported during the entire ceremony by her proud husband, William McDowell.

“I might be biased, but I do believe my wife deserves this honor,” a beaming McDowell stated.

The street-naming recognizes Knight as a celebrated and accomplished daughter of Atlanta, Georgia.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a Licensed Insurance Agent at HealthMarkets. Follow me @GloverIsGood on Twitter.com.

Reggae artist Maxi Priest leads SummerStage lineup, set for June 27

maxi

By Tiffany Mea

Reggae stars Maxi Priest and Gyptian as well as soca royalty Bunji Garlin and Fay Ann Lyons will take the stage in NYC’s Central Park to celebrate VP Records’ 35th year in business as well as its partnership with SummerStage. DJs Bobby Konders and Jabba of Massive B will also provide sounds throughout the day. The free concert kicks off at 2 p.m. and ends at 7pm on June 27, 2015.

35 years ago, VP Records’ founders Vincent and his wife Patricia Chin moved their headquarters from Kingston, Jamaica, to Jamaica, New York, transforming their operations into the largest Caribbean music company worldwide. At the concert there will also be a special VP Records 35th anniversary pop-up exhibit entitled A Reggae Music Journey, which designed by acclaimed artist Michael Thompson. The display will be located outside of the event for all the patrons to enjoy.

“VP Records is proud to bring this all-star lineup into the heart of Manhattan. We’re all looking forward to celebrating the 35th anniversary with an enjoyable day of reggae and soca music in the park,” said VP Records Senior Director of Marketing Brian Greenspoon. SummerStage is also celebrating their 30th anniversary this year. SummerStage is a program of City Parks Foundation that presents performances of outstanding artistic quality, free of charge, to serve the diverse communities of New York City. To celebrate their 30th anniversary, they have extended the season from May to October, and added more than 20 free shows in Central Park and 15 neighborhood parks across the city.

Bunji Garlin has been making waves with his new album.

Bunji Garlin has been making waves with his new album.

VP Records co-founder Patricia Chin said: “SummerStage’s 30th Anniversary and VP Records’ 35th Anniversary are significant milestones that we are honored to acknowledge together at the prestigious Central Park venue.” After 35 years, Miss Pat, as her staff affectionately refers to her, is still very much involved with the day-to-day operations of VP Records.

With over 15 million albums sold worldwide, multiple Grammy nominations and Top 10 Billboard hits, including the No. 1 smash “Close To You,” the most successful solo act in British reggae history, Maxi Priest, continues to hit the road throughout 2015 in support of his first studio album in almost a decade, Easy To Love on the VP Records label. Jamaican reggae singer Gyptian broke into the reggae scene in 2005 with his string of hits like “Serious Times” “Beautiful Lady” and “Mama, Don’t Cry.” He hit international stardom in 2010 with his critically-acclaimed album Hold You and its RIAA certified Gold title rack, which featured a Nicki Minaj remix, and earned him a 2010 MOBO and Soul Train award.

Born Ian Alvarez, the Trinidadian ragga soca star Bunji Garlin is known for his blending of soca with dancehall. Hailed recently by Rolling Stone as “America’s first soca star,” Garlin has clearly taken his native country’s genre to new heights. His single “Differentology (Ready For The Road),” which was remixed by Major Lazer & Busta Rhymes, was a massive hit in North America more than a year after its release in the Caribbean. Fay Ann Lyons is already a superstar in her native country of Trinidad and across the Caribbean. During Trinidad & Tobago’s Carnival season’s annual competitions, Fay Ann has set the record as the only female artist to score the Carnival Road March title three times, taking the crown in 2003, 2008 and 2009.

Massive B was formed over 10 years ago with DJ Bobby Konders’ vision of starting his own sound system. At its start, the voice behind Massive B was none other than Jabba. There have been many additions to Massive B as it continues to grow. New members include Big Dawg, Chudney Shotta, D-Life and X-Man, among others. Massive B has toured all over the globe, playing major festivals and dances, and representing NYC along the way. Locally, Massive B is a Brooklyn staple, performing annually at the borough’s West Indian Day Parade and weekly at the Buzz Nightclub for ‘Fire Sundays,’ where they spin the hottest reggae, dancehall, hip hop, R&B, and soca music. Bobby and Jabba can also be heard on-air every weekend on Hot 97 FM.–OnPointPress.net.

VP Records’ collection of roots reggae music celebrates ‘jah’

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From the opening strains of Buju Banton’s haunting ‘Our Father in Zion’ to the evangelistic delivery of Luciano’s live performance of his classic, ‘It’s Me Again Jah’ there is no mistaking that ‘Reggae Loves JAH’ is a thoughtful collection of hits that is sure to become a favorite for reggae lovers globally. Released on VP Records, the  sequencing of the songs by Dane “Fatman” Bogle, easily captures the essence of the unique relationship between reggae, Rasta, Emperor Selassie the First, revered by many as ‘Jah’ and the island of Jamaica, from which reggae and rasta sprung forth. ‘Reggae Loves Jah’ contains thirteen tracks espousing Rastafarian “livity” in giving praises to the ‘Most High,Jah Rastafari.’

For executive producer Eisaku “Selector A” Yamaguchi, this album was made “from the bottom of his heart” as a tribute to Rastafarian principles. He says, “I am not Rasta, but I support Rasta and their “livity,” their view on life and what Rastafari I stand for is similar to how I view life.” Selector A’s previous compilation, ‘Reggae Loves Africa’ was “a reminder about Africa…Reggae is known for its strong message and inspiration, it inspires people worldwide.”

Reggae Loves Jah is right on time, featuring a collection of stand alone hits like  ‘Greetings,’ track #4 from Half Pint; track #5, ‘Jah Is By My Side’ from Tony Rebel; ‘Jah Jah Is The Ruler’ with Garnet Silk on track #11 and ‘Jah Works,’ track #6 from Terror Fabulous. Over the years, many reggae stars have said that they learned about Rastafari, Africa and Emperor Haile Selassie the First through reggae music. Songs like Glen Washington’s ‘Jah Glory,’ track#10 and Bushman’s ‘Lighthouse’ track $12 are prayerful praises being given up to Jah, “the Most High.” The album allows new comers to the genre to have a good sampling in one compilation as a solid representation of Rastafarian praise music. Selector A says, “I made this album, ‘Reggae Loves JAH’ as a Rasta baton from the bottom of my heart, to pass on to the next generation.”

Though the tracks represent a variety of singers and producers, the late Phillip “Fattis” Burrell’s Xterminator label is featured four times beginning with track #2, ‘Praise Him’ with Sanchez, which remains a perennial favorite, followed by track #3, ‘Praise Ye Jah’ with Sizzla. This track reminds us of the sweetly poignant vocals and profound lyrics that made us fall in love with Sizzla in the 90’s. Track #9, ‘Jah Blessing’ features Sizzla and at the time stable mate, Luciano, on a very popular track that scored big for them and Xterminator as they were being mentored by Fattis. The final track on the album is also an Xterminator single, ‘It’s Me Again Jah’ which helped to catapult Luciano, who became known as “The Messenger” into becoming a household name. The song is loved by Christians, church goers, Rastafarians and secular folks alike. Tracks like Fantan Mojah’s ‘Thanks and Praise’ and Jah Cure’s ‘Jah Jah Bless Me’ are fast becoming classics and deserve to be among these established tracks.

There is something to be said about the thought that went into compiling these thirteen tracks and paying homage to the muse of roots reggae music. ‘Reggae Loves JAH’ is chock full of songs that we know, songs that have remained in our consciousness. Like prayers we learned as children that quickly come to mind in times of need, these songs though familiar to the average reggae fan, will be well received by the astute reggae collector for all being on the same album. Selector A is convinced that “with social media we can promote this album to the new generation as articles alone can’t get the youth’s attention; we still need music to carry out the message.”–OnPointPress.net.