AFC or NFC, which championship game will be better?

Russell Wilson hopes to take the #1 seed Seahawks to the Super Bowl in his second year as a starter in the NFL.

Russell Wilson hopes to take the #1 seed Seahawks to the Super Bowl in his second year as a starter in the NFL.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Magic, Earvin Johnson versus Larry Bird or Lakers versus Celtics: Epic individual matchup or dynamic team rivalry? Which was better? Like the great games played by those two competitors, the National Football League (NFL) couldn’t have asked for a better championship weekend. The AFC championship will feature the two biggest stars in the NFL over the past decade as Tom Brady leads his New England Patriots to Denver to face Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Two all-time great quarterbacks facing each other with an opportunity to play in the Super Bowl has to be the best game of the weekend, doesn’t it?

Colin Kaepernick will have to be at his best to lead the 49ers to consecutive Super Bowl appearances.

Colin Kaepernick will have to be at his best to lead the 49ers to consecutive Super Bowl appearances.

Meanwhile, the NFC championship will feature the best rivalry in the NFL, the two best defenses remaining in the playoffs, and two of the best young quarterbacks, who are both African-American, in the game. Combine those factors with two head coaches who have a rivalry that goes back to their days coaching in college (Pete Carroll at USC and Jim Harbough at Stanford) and you have a recipe for a combustible contest. The San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks will send a combined 16 players to the pro bowl and both teams play similar styles offensively and defensively. This will also be the third meeting of the season for these teams as both have won on their home field. Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick are two of the most exciting young quarterbacks in the game and they have done nothing but win since they took over as starters in the league. The Seahawks can make it to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2005-06 season while the 49ers are trying to reach NFL title game for a second consecutive season.

Peyton Manning's last two trips to the AFC championship game were successful. He looks to add to that success this Sunday.

Peyton Manning’s last two trips to the AFC championship game were successful. He looks to add to that success this Sunday.

As intense as the NFC matchup will be, it will not have the historical impact of the AFC contest. Peyton Manning completed a regular season in which he set just about every single season passing record and led his team to the number one seed in consecutive seasons. Tom Brady helped his team overcome a litany of serious injuries as the Patriots continued to dominate the AFC east and reach the AFC title game for 8th time in the Belichek-Brady Era. Manning and Brady will face each other for the 15th time in their careers, with the Patriots beating the Broncos earlier this season. However, the last time they faced each other in the playoffs, Manning and the Colts defeated the Patriots en route to Manning’s only Super bowl win in 2006-07. A win for Manning would put him in the Super Bowl for the third time and allow him a chance at multiple championships. Meanwhile, Brady is trying to join a class with Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana, four time Super Bowl champion quarterbacks.

Tom Brady attempts to lead the Patriots to the Super Bowl for the 6th time.

Tom Brady attempts to lead the Patriots to the Super Bowl for the 6th time.

Both games should be entertaining, intense, and memorable. All the teams remaining won at least 12 games in the regular season and the winner of either matchup will provide NFL fans with something special to look forward to on Super Bowl Sunday. Will Manning cap off a record breaking season with a Super Bowl win? Will Brady get that elusive fourth title? Will the Seahawks get the first Super Bowl victory in franchise history? or, Will the 49ers tie the Pittsburgh Steelers with the most Super Bowl victories for a franchise with its sixth win? One thing is sure, the NFL championship round will be one for the ages.–OnPointPress.net–

 

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

“12 Years a Slave” is best picture, black actors, director, snubbed

 

"!2 Years a Slave" Director Steve McQueen with the film's stars and Chiwetel Ejiofor. The film won Best Picture at the Golden Globes on Sunday night.

“12 Years a Slave” Director Steve McQueen with the film’s stars Lupita Nyong’o and Chiwetel Ejiofor. The film won Best Picture at the Golden Globes on Sunday night.

By Carmen Glover

The announcement that “12 Years a Slave,” which was nominated for seven Golden Globes, deservedly won the Best Picture of 2013 at the awards event Sunday night, took an extremely long time to be made. The big revelation was made at the end of the show after black actors were snubbed in all the other categories in which they were nominated. In a cruel twist, Steve McQueen, the film’s director, was overlooked in the Best Director category to the extent that he was clearly stunned when his film won the top award.

Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor renders a solid performance in "12 Years a Slave."

Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor renders a solid performance in “12 Years a Slave,” but was snubbed for a Best Actor award by the Golden Globes.

“Little bit in shock,” he said as he stood on stage with the film’s cast, gazing at the award. After thanking the actors, he thanked “Brad Pitt, without whom the film would not have been made.” It was surreal watching the broadcast of the Golden Globes as black actors and movies were ignored time and again, despite the stellar performances the actors gave in the movies that epitomized the best of their craft.

Idris Elba, who convincingly portrayed late South African leader Nelson Mandela in the film "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," was snubbed at the Golden Globe Awards.

Idris Elba, who convincingly portrayed late South African leader Nelson Mandela in the film “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” was snubbed for a Best Actor award by the Golden Globes.

“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” won a nominal recognition by way of U2’s Bono, who won Best Score for his song “Ordinary Love,” but the film’s star, Idris Elba, who portrayed late South African leader Nelson Mandela with such grace and sophistication, was overlooked for his solid depiction.

Lupita Nyong'o  was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in "12 Years a Slave."

Lupita Nyong’o was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in “12 Years a Slave,” but went home empty-handed at the awards event.

Actors appearing in television series fared no better, with Kerry Washington “Scandal” and Don Cheadle “House of Lies,” both being shut out despite great performances.

It is at times like these when the significance of the NAACP’s Image Awards shines with relevance. The NAACP Image Awards proudly celebrates the work of black actors, showering them with the accolades and respect that they have strongly earned but which they rarely get from their peers. It is important for the mainstream award programs to realize that nominating black performers, only to ignore their talents when it’s time to hand out the awards, is simply unacceptable. It is a slap in the face of professionals who give their all to their work and who deserve to be recognized for the high quality of their work rather than be overlooked because of their skin color. –OnPointPress.net

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Where were caring adults when Myls Dobson needed them?

Little Myls Dobson was beaten, tortured and starved to death in New York City.

Little Myls Dobson was beaten, burned, tortured and starved to death in New York City by his father’s transgendered partner, after the biological mother lost custody in October 2012, due to neglect.

Parents have a responsibility to nurture, protect and care for their children instead of pointing fingers at everyone but themselves when the child dies. The recent murder of four-year old Myls Dobson in New York City, allegedly at the hands of his incarcerated father’s transgendered partner, Kryzie King, 27, naturally causes the blood of parents worldwide to boil. But as anger grows about the barbaric conditions under which the child died, one important question needs to be raised: Where were the family members, including the biological mother, Ashlee Dobson,29, and her relatives who cried copious tears at a recent press conference, when the child was alive?

According to published reports by the Daily News, the child was removed from the mother’s custody and placed with the father, Okee Wade, who has an extensive arrest record, because the mother was found to be neglectful of the child. The father, who was subsequently arrested for fraud, placed the child with his transgendered partner, who tortured, burned, starved and beat the child to death. Even when a child is removed from the custody of one parent, that non-custodial parent has a moral obligation to maintain contact with the child through visits, telephone calls and to make financial contributions to the child’s upkeep.

As soon as the news broke of Myls’ gruesome death, his mother found her way to New York with a group of relatives, sobbing for the child at a press conference and pointing fingers. Where was she and her relatives during the three-week period from late December to January 8, when the child was being tortured and starved to death? Did they come to visit him? Did they talk to him on the telephone? Did they get pictures of him to see how he was progressing? Did they send him care packages, or Christmas cards and presents?

If somehow seems calculating to shed tears and reminisce about the child who lost his life at such a tender age, unless documented proof can be provided that the family members who advertised their tears at the press conference were just as involved in the child’s daily existence. Besides, if they were in contact with the child, wouldn’t they know that he was being abused and therefore found a way to protect him? It seems like the tears and the press conference are simply too little, too late. –OnPointPress.net

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Rooney Rule needed to diversify college coaching ranks

The Texas Longhorns announce the hiring of Charlie Strong for head coach Monday Jan. 6, 2014.

Charlie Strong smiles at the announcement that he is  the new head coach of the Texas Longhorns.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Within a week of Charlie Strong, who is African-American, leaving the Louisville Cardinals head coaching job for the highly regarded head coaching position at the University of Texas, the Cardinals now have their replacement: Bobby Petrino. Petrino, despite his baggage, returns to Louisville, the place of his first head coaching opportunity. Lost in the conversation about both Strong and Petrino is the bigger issue: College football still has a very low number of African-American head coaches, although most of the players are African-American.

It seems as if a Rooney Rule is needed in college football to even the playing field and make it mandatory for African-American and other minorities to be considered seriously for head coaching jobs and given adequate resources and time to succeed when they are hired. At the beginning of the 2013 college football season, there were 13 African-American head coaches out of 120 FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly called Division I-A) universities. While it is reported that Louisville interviewed one its African-American position coaches for the top job, it seems as if the interview was a formality and that Petrino was their first choice all along.

Stanford head coach David Shaw has a successful 34 - 7 records over 3 seasons.

Stanford head coach David Shaw has a successful 34 – 7 record over 3 seasons.

The first major disparity in diversity is the small number of first chances given for head coaching opportunities to African-Americans. Some schools hire African-American coaches in various levels of the coaching hierarchy but are reluctant to appoint them at the highest levels. The next obstacle African-American coaches face is getting a second chance at head coach. To date, Tyrone Willingham is the only African-American head coach to be hired after being previously fired. The third glaring difference is African-American coaches have a hard time receiving support from university boosters, who donate millions of dollars annually to their alma maters. As universities continue to receive healthy contributions from millionaires and billionaires, it will be interesting to see how many Athletic Directors eschew negative booster input about African-American candidates in the future. The Stanford Cardinals’ success (34 wins – 7 losses in 3 full seasons) following the promotion of David Shaw to head coach, stands as a model that demonstrates schools can maintain success with first time African-American head coaches.

In the meantime, the Texas Longhorns’ hiring of Strong has been met mostly with positive skepticism. Although it is acknowledged that Strong is qualified to improve the Texas program, questions have been raised about his personality and demeanor. A senior ESPN writer states in his article on the hire, “the two coaches who won national championships at Texas, Darrell Royal and Mack Brown, possessed the back slapping, shoulder-rubbing personalities that kept a lot of rich, powerful people at bay.” As a result, the rich and powerful did not interfere with coaching decisions but with Strong being more reserved the suggestion is that his demeanor will invite all types of outside interference. So despite Strong getting the top job, he is still being placed under a microscope even before he has a chance to get acclimated to the job.

 

Successful businessman and Texas booster Red McCombs was outspoken about the hire of Charlie Strong this week.

Successful businessman and Texas booster Red McCombs was outspoken about the hiring of Charlie Strong this week, implying that Strong’s hiring is a mistake.

This assessment almost seemed prophetic because a day after that article was published, (1/6/14) billionaire Red McCombs, one of the Longhorns’ most prominent boosters, expressed ‘concern” over the Charlie Strong hire. Concern might be putting it mildly, however. The former San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, and Minnesota Vikings owner expressed in an interview on ESPN Radio that he views the hire as “a kick in the face.” McCombs continued to dismiss Strong’s impressive resume and claims that Strong could “make a great position coach, maybe a coordinator.” McCombs, who has donated over $100 million to Texas and bears his name on the Texas University business school, is likely joined with some fellow boosters in his negative view of Strong. However, other public statements have been supportive of the new head coach and his track record speaks positively for the great impact he is poised to have at the University of Texas.

Bobby Petrino returns to the Louisville Cardinals as their head coach.

Bobby Petrino returns to the Louisville Cardinals as their head coach, despite his heavy baggage.

Strong’s former school, Louisville, decided to replace him with the man who previously left them for another job shortly after assuring them he was staying. Petrino has had plenty of success as a college head coach, amassing an 83 – 30 win-loss record over his coaching career. If it weren’t for his character flaws and the circumstances under which he left Louisville in the first place, the hire would likely be unanimously supported.

Those who have followed Petrino’s career have seen him taint his on field success with enigmatic decisions such as quitting on his team mid-season and trying to cover up a motorcycle accident with his mistress on board. The Cardinals are making the statement by hiring him a second time that winning is the most important factor at their program. Louisville’s athletic director said that he is adamant in his desire to make the Cardinals’ football head coach position a “destination job.” It remains to be seen what else comes along with Bobby Petrino as he makes the Cardinals program his next destination.

College football continues to see advances that were previously thought to be unimaginable. The Heisman Trophy has been awarded to redshirt freshmen in consecutive years. Hopefully, Charlie Strong and David Shaw convince decision makers that African-American head coaches can have continued success–OnPointPress.net–

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

NJ Governor Christie’s hypocrisy revealed, his staff endanger lives

New Jersey Governor Republican Chris Christie.

Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie seems pensive as his governorship is engulfed in controversy regarding chaos caused by deliberate lane closures on the George Washington Bridge.

By Carmen Glover

Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has basked in media coverage with an air of acceptance born out of his desire to be noticed constantly and praised repeatedly for the job he is doing for his constituents. But when emailed documentation were exposed yesterday by the Bergen Record and other media outlets, revealing the manner in which aides in his office intentionally put the public at risk, Christie was nowhere to be found until the end of the day.

The emailed documentation showed that two of his aides deliberately caused chaos and extreme gridlock on the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee this past summer as retribution to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, who refused to endorse Christie’s candidacy. Christie took an entire day before releasing a statement condemning the actions of his aides. Claiming that he did not endorse their conduct, Christie, who has held himself up as a paragon of virtue, sought to distance himself from their unsavory actions. Calling their behavior “unacceptable,” Christie said “I will not tolerate it.” But he did not indicate if people would be fired and if the town of Fort Lee would be reimbursed for the cost incurred by the extensive gridlock.

“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” read one email to David Wildstein, Christie’s then-appointee to the Port Authority. Wildstein, who has since resigned, then responded in the affirmative, “Got it.” Two lanes of traffic were subsequently closed on the bridge for days, resulting in delayed response times, traffic congestion and general inconvenience to the public.

David Wildstein, former NJ appointee to the Port Authority.

David Wildstein, former NJ Governor Chris Christie appointee to the Port Authority.

Speaking on MSNBC’s “All in With Chris Hayes” last night, Sokolich did not disguise his fury at the reckless conduct exhibited by Christie’s aides. The aides blocked lanes of the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, delayed response times to 911 while inconveniencing residents and creating a travel nightmare on the highway. To make matters worse, they celebrated, rather than helped, when Sokolich asked for their assistance to ease the traffic congestion. “Is it wrong that I’m smiling?” one aide emailed to Wildstein, who replied ‘No.” They were generally dismissive of Sikolich’s pleas for intervention on behalf of his constituents, especially his appeals to ease the traffic delays that inconvenienced school children and those facing health emergencies.

“David Wildstein deserves an ass kicking. There I said it,” Sokolich said when asked what he would say to the aide who endorsed the punitive action. When asked why he did not endorse Christie, Sokolich said: “Because I believe in the Democratic principles.”

Fort Lee Mayor Mark Solochich was punished with traffic congestion on the GWB because he refused to endorse NJ Governor Chris Christie.

Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich was punished with traffic congestion on the GWB because he refused to endorse NJ Governor Chris Christie.

If it is proven that Christie’s political appointees have the freedom to make decisions that endanger others’ lives it is important that they are held responsible for any fall out their actions caused. It remains to be seen what steps Governor Christie will take, other than issuing the inadequate press release that he did last night, in holding his aides and appointees accountable for their reckless actions. There is also the question of Christie’s honesty when he denies prior knowledge of his aides’ actions. Did they really act without his approval, tacit or otherwise?

The public requires answers and swift, decisive action. Christie also needs to apologize to the people of Fort Lee and travelers who use the bridge, one of the nation’s busiest. Christie and his staff all contributed to this debacle and decisive action would be the best remedy. “This behavior is not representative of me,” Christie finally said in a statement at the end of the day, as a media firestorm swirled. But the statement appears to be too little, too late, for a man who desires to be president of the country, and who has not been shy to jockey for that office, while giving every indication that he is using his governorship as a stepping stone to get to what he views as his destiny: Becoming president of the United States. —OnPointPress.net

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Grammy interest grows as Beres Hammond, Sizzla nominated for best reggae album

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When the 56th Annual Grammy Awards program airs live on CBS on January 26, 2014, two of reggae’s top stars will compete in the best reggae album category: Sizzla and Beres Hammond. Both Hammond’s “One Love, One Life” and Sizzla’s “The Messiah,” are released by VP Records.

“We are very proud of Sizzla and Beres for this outstanding achievement. Each artist, who are both legends in their own right, created inspiring and groundbreaking material on their latest collections. They not only released some of their best work to date, but raised the bar for the genre,” VP Records CEO Christopher Chin stated.

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Known to many as the “Otis Redding of Reggae,”  Hammond has been producing and pouring out his smoky-sweet vocals over every kind of musical track for almost 40 years. VP Records released his latest Grammy-nominated, double-disc studio album “One Love, One Life,” in November 2012. The release peaked at #1 on Billboard’s Top 10 Reggae Album chart and was hailed by Rolling Stone as “one of the best albums of a four-decade-long career.” The first disc “One Love” includes his signature classic lover’s rock sound, while the second disc “One Life” contains more of his socially conscious, spiritually empowering tunes.

Hammond produced 19 of the 20 songs with co-producers Donovan Germain on “No Candle Light,” Collin “Bulby” York on “In My Arms” and Michael Fletcher on “More Time.” This is Hammond’s second Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album. The icon was considered in 2002 for his 2001 studio album Music Is Life.

This is Sizzla’s first Grammy nomination. Mostly written and executive produced by himself, Sizzla’s full scope of talents are displayed on his 70th effort The Messiah, which was released this May. As one of reggae’s most prolific artists, he showcases his musical depth, passion and precision on this 15-track collection inspiring positive change worldwide. His social commentary on songs like “Chant Dem Down,” “No Wicked Man” and “Psalms 121” reveal his daring bravado and righteous lyrics, while the melodic anthem “Good Love” unveils his softer side. The Messiah peaked at #1 on the South Florida Reggae Chart and New York Reggae Chart. With his fresh perspective, it is evident that Sizzla remains the reigning king of roots.

Both albums are available on iTunes. For more information, contact Tiffany@vprecords.com–OnPointPress.net.

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Gifted musician Paul Kastick mentors, develops new singers

imageBy Carmen Glover

The picturesque beauty of the island paradise of Jamaica has nourished, soothed and nurtured many illustrious talents who have dominated on the world stage. From track stars Usain Bolt and Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce who were named 2013 World Athletes of the Year, to intellectuals spanning many fields, and recent season five winner of “The Voice” Tessanne Chin, Jamaica can effortlessly stake its claim on the diverse talents of its sons and daughters.

Tessanne with her producer Paul Kastick of Groove Galore Muziq and Big Mountain band.

“The Voice’s” Season Five Winner Tessanne Chin with her producer Paul Kastick of Groove Galore Muziq Productions and Big Mountain Band. Kastick and fellow producer Rudy Valentino produced her hit “Hideaway.”

Paul Kastick, an extraordinarily gifted musician who, with fellow musician Rudy Valentino, produced Chin’s resurgent hit “Hideaway,” is poised to dominate 2014 with his diverse skills of producing beautiful music while developing a new crop of singing sensations. Kastick has toured or played on the same shows with some of the elite names in the reggae industry including the 809 Band, Shaggy, Maxi Priest, Diana King, Steel Pulse and Ky-Mani Marley. As CEO of Groove Galore Muziq Productions and a member of Big Mountain Band, Kastick proudly points to his Jamaican roots and his early musical influences as the reasons for his stellar successes professionally and his profound determination to develop new musicians in 2014 and beyond.

Paul Kastick enjoys a light moment backstage with Shaggy.

Paul Kastick enjoys a light moment backstage with Shaggy at New York’s Barclays Center in 2012.

“When I was ten, growing up in Montego Bay, Jamaica, we used to have two marching bands: Montego Bay Boys Club and Tyson. It used to be mesmerizing to me to hear the marching bands coming through,” Kastick said reflectively, while musing about his childhood. “You would drop everything you were doing and just stare. I had an obsession with the bands and seeing the guy throw the drum sticks up in the air.”

Kastick explained how he would walk along the path on his way home from school and peek in on the Boys Club practice sessions. “When I saw a brown-skinned guy, Carlos Gonzalez, playing the drums, I said to myself: ‘He’s good. I could do that one day,'” Kastick recalled. He took his childhood dreams to heart and quickly began to play in his high school band, although he recalled that the band only played “orchestra music” at the time, requiring him to learn to “read music.”

Paul Kastick doing what he loves most, playing the drums.

Paul Kastick doing what he loves most, playing the drums.

Honing his talent while passing time at his late mother’s store, Kastick said he would watch as various bands rehearsed nearby.

“I didn’t have a drum set at the time so I would play on my legs and in the air,” he said, laughing at the fond memories evoked by the imagery. “In 1982 my uncle went to New York for the first time and he came back with a video of MTV Top 40 Countdown. I saw Van Halen, Hall & Oates and the rock music brought out something in me. I started to get obsessed with the music,” Kastick recalled. “The defining moment for me was in 1983 when I joined with Benjy Myaz and we began to learn more about music. Shortly afterwards, Chalice’s album ‘Blasted’ with the hit single ‘Good to be There’ came out and the group’s drummer, Desi Jones, revolutionized the music,” he added.

New York based singer Faraji, is another singer whose upcoming album is being produced by Paul Kastick.

New York based singer Faraji is another intriguingly exciting singer whose upcoming album is being produced by Paul Kastick, who has a knack for producing memorable hits.

As Kastick matured, opportunities opened up to him and he landed a job as the drummer for the in-house band at Seawind Resort in Montego Bay. Throughout the tourist mecca, it was the norm to see Kastick, with his music bag slung casually over his shoulder, clicking his drum sticks in the air or randomly on cans and other surfaces, happily practicing notes only known to him, while residents and tourists simply stared and wondered: Who is that guy?. Kastick was caught up in his own musical realm, visualizing music’s vast terrain, while occasionally indulging in non-music related talk. His immense joy at being around music and being able to live out his passion daily was infectious. Music, unquestionably, was his life.

Belinda, who had a hit single in 1991, is working with Paul Kastick on her upcoming album.

Belinda Brady, who sang backup for Shaggy in the past, is working with Paul Kastick on her upcoming album.

For years, Kastick’s warm-up song was the sweet strains of Priest’s “Wild World,” though as a young man starting out in music, meeting Priest seemed like a far-fetched dream. But Kastick said he looked up one day while rehearsing with 809 Band at 2B Grove Road in Kingston, Jamaica, and saw Priest watching from the door.

“I could not believe it,” Kastick said emphatically, relishing the memory even decades later. A bond easily developed between the two musicians and Kastick has been touring with Priest since 2000.

Priest, who said he considers Kastick “a friend and co-writer,” describes him as “one of Jamaica’s all time greatest drummers both live, and in studio.” In an indication of Kastick’s life coming full circle. Priest, who Kastick admired so much as a young man, said that Kastick is “a true pioneer and I’m honored to have him as family, a member of my band, and a creative entity in my music.”

But it took Kastick many years before he got to the point of touring with mega-stars, running his own music company and producing work for fledgling singers.

Paul Kastick, (second from left) with the members of Big Mountain band.

Paul Kastick, (second from left) with the members of Big Mountain Band.

“In 1985 cabaret singer Dennis Malcolm came to me and Benjy to do a reggae cover version of Brook Benton’s “I Love You in So Many Ways,” Kastick said of the period shortly after he began to work at Seawind Resort. “Dennis was the first person who took us into the studio. I always thought that Benjy and I would be like the great Sly & Robbie team.” But their lives took different paths and in 1989 Kastick auditioned for 809 Band. “Four months later I got a message from 809 to come to Kingston on July 26, 1989 and by that time the Seawind Band was getting lots of attention,” he recalled.

Paul Kastick at Westlake Studios in Los Angeles, California, working with his Big Mountain band members.

Paul Kastick at Westlake Studios in Los Angeles, California, working with his Big Mountain band members.

Kastick’s involvement with the 809 Band led to an exhilarating journey during which he traveled regularly to Japan for the Japan Splash musical extravaganza, where he garnered attention for his talents but most importantly, cemented a loving, supportive and strong relationship with 809 saxophonist Dean Fraser.

“Dean was like a father to me,” said Kastick, who has never met his father. As a father himself, Kastick realizes the important roles fathers play in children’s lives. “When I had off days and would travel to see my girlfriend at the time, Kathy Williams, Dean was the one driving me to see her,” he said. The 809 Band is a highly respected band in reggae music and stars such as Luciano, Sizzla and a host of others have had hits produced by former members of the band.

Paul Kastick is lost in his private thoughts, as he ponders what's involved in producing new hits for his singers.

Paul Kastick is lost in his private thoughts, as he ponders what’s involved in producing new hits for his singers.

As the need for large bands waned in the mid-nineties, Kastick shifted his focus to diversify his opportunities by accepting an offer to tour with Diana King in 1995. He then joined Shaggy on tour in 1996, after first meeting him in 1993 when he played with the 809 Band at the Japan Splash and the band backed Shaggy, Gregory Isaacs and Buju Banton.

“In 1995 Shaggy came back with “Bombastic” but we were on tour in Trinidad with Beres Hammond and Shabba so we were unavailable to tour with him, but the night when Shaggy won the Grammy for “Bombastic” his manager called me and said they wanted to change their band and they wanted me, Michael Fletcher and Christopher Birch to join them,” he said.

After rehearsing for a week in Jamaica in 1996, Kastick and the rest of the band went on world tour with Shaggy, visiting South Africa, Australia, Brazil, Poland, Beirut, Lebanon; Belgium and Germany, among others. He recalled that the South African stop was the most memorable.

“The tour was two years after Nelson Mandela came to Jamaica and I played for him,” Kastick said. “When I landed in Johannesburg I felt like I was coming home to my roots. Maybe it was subliminal based on the history of apartheid.”

Paul Kastick gives his all in his performance.

Paul Kastick savors the power of the music and its impact in transforming the lives of music lovers across the globe as he renders yet another solid performance.

Kastick toured with Shaggy extensively until 1998 on the “Spirit of Unity Tour,” featuring Shaggy, Buju Banton, Steel Pulse, Beres Hammond and Lucky Dube. The tour was a summer tour in the U.S, and it ended in Hawaii. At the end of the tour, Kastick accepted an offer from Big Mountain Band.

“The manager of the band, who I knew from before, called to say the band needed a new drummer to build something solid,” he said of the transition. Joaquin “Quino” McWhinney, lead singer of Big Mountain Band, remembers observing Kastick in 1997 while on a European tour in Amsterdam during the period when Kastick was playing drums for Shaggy.

“We were sound checking at the Milky Way music club when I noticed Paul standing in the middle of the dance hall with his arms crossed, studying us intently,” McWhinney said, while adding that over the past 16 years “Paul became my close friend and partner.” Straddling a blend of reggae that incorporates a variety of styles, McWhinney explained that “Big Mountain is committed to create a sound that does not exclude any racial or cultural community and Paul brought to Big Mountain an extensive array of experiences in reggae music but he also taught us not to be afraid of our American roots.”

Kastick’s decision to accept the offer to join Big Mountain Band changed the trajectory of his career and led him to  producing, which allows him to expand his repertoire by working with new singers to help shape their careers. As Chin basks in the success of winning “The Voice” and continues to enjoy success from the Kastick/Valentino produced hit “Hideaway,’ Kastick is firmly focused on developing two singers who have enjoyed modest acclaim on their own: Belinda Brady and Faraji.

Paul Kastick shows that deep concentrating is necessary for a great show.

Paul Kastick shows that deep concentration is necessary for a great show.

“Belinda used to sing background for Shaggy in 1995 and she is Jamaican with Canadian heritage,” Kastick explained. “She sings big and powerful like Tessanne and she called me after she heard ‘Hideaway’ to discuss working together,” he said.

Although Kastick is producing an album for Brady, she is also working with Sly & Robbie and Tony Kelly as well. Faraji, on the other hand, whose style is of the soul reggae alternative genre, with songs such as “Come Again” and Sensimellia Love,” has a different connection with Kastick.

“Faraji is like a brother to me while Belinda is a friend that I linked up with,” Kastic said. However, one thing is clear: He is fiercely committed to both singers. “I am fully vested in them,” he said firmly, emphasizing his laser-like focus on solidifying the singers’ respective careers.

Kastick also works with Dorrett Wisdom (Dwisdom), who, he said, “In 1991 she had the hit single ‘First Real Love,’ which was produced by Willie Stewart of the group Third World. Dwisdom has been singing backup over the past 15 years for Beres Hammond and touring with him. She is working on her second album with Harmony House and Kastick is producing a remake of her 1991 hit “First Real Love.”

The music has captured Paul Kastick's body, mind and soul as he gives it his all.

The music has captured Paul Kastick’s body, mind and soul as he gives it his all.

King, who fondly refers to Kastick as “Styk,” said she “cannot imagine being without him.” She speaks highly of the 20 years that she has been working with the gifted musician and is rueful that he doesn’t have “a few clones” due to the intense demand for his indomitable musical skills. “Not only is he super talented as a live drummer and musical director on stage, he is just as talented and innovative in the studio when it comes to drum programming and producing,” she explained. “He’s on top of his game in every way.”

King expressed admiration for Kastick’s tendency to keep current with technology and musical trends while retaining his passion for musical excellence. “He isn’t afraid to say exactly what he thinks because he believes in the integrity of the music, which is why all the top international Jamaican artists’ first choice to work with is Paul.”

Kastick sees great things ahead for both of his singers as he works diligently to expand their musical reach and expose them to a wider audience. At the same time, Kastick is committed to continuing to tour with Priest, producing sweet music with Big Mountain Band, accepting other musical engagements and spending quality time with his family.

Gonzalez, who used to play drums with the Boys Club Band and whose late father was a saxophonist from Puerto Rico, was surprised when he learned that Kastick used to watch him play in their shared hometown of Montego Bay.

“That makes me feel good that I was like a role model to him and I’m happy that Paul went on to follow his dreams and do well,” he said. Gonzalez, who is no longer involved in music and resides in Toronto, Canada, said: “It just goes to show that you should never give up on your dreams.”

Paul Kastick and the members of Big Mountain Band rehearsing.

Paul Kastick and the members of Big Mountain Band having fun while rehearsing.

McWhinney agrees with that sentiment wholeheartedly and credits Kastick with helping him embrace the full scope of his dreams.

“Paul encouraged me to be myself and not try to copy Jamaican reggae. He encouraged me to reach deep into my experiences in life. I can’t stress enough how important it was for me to understand that,” he said. Savoring the richness of their close bond, McWhinney is pleased that as Big Mountain Band returns to the studio to record an album after a long break it will be with Kastick’s involvement.

“I’m so proud and happy to have my brother Paul by my side,” he said. “Paul Kastick is one of those rare examples of talent, professionalism and sincere heart that keeps reggae music alive and well in 2014.” Infused by the comfort of Kastick’s presence for the next phase of the band’s journey he added: “Big Mountain is back.. Big Time….” Undoubtedly, Kastick, who is described by Priest as an “amazingly versatile musician,” would agree.

The sky is the limit for Kastick as the New Year unfolds and his musical expertise expands. it seems that his work ethic will continue to be his strongest asset.

“Paul takes his work very serious: Always organized, early for work, the first in rehearsals, the last to leave, and enthusiastic when touring,” said Priest.

As Kastick continues to demonstrate his highly developed sense of professionalism while thrilling audiences with his vast skills, the world of music will continue to celebrate his tableau of musical passion, genius and excitement, mixed with a spirit of collaboration, all honed and nurtured on the breathtakingly beautiful island of Jamaica, where he grew up and still calls home.–OnPointPess.net

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Deadlines loom for continuing education applications

 

By Carmen Glover

Have you been thinking about returning to school to further your education but you haven’t yet taken the step of submitting your application? If you are interested in pursuing continuing education degrees at Columbia and New York Universities (NYU), or the University of the West Indies’ Cave Hill Campus, time is running out to submit applications.

The Shridath Ramphal Centre of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, announced that it will offer courses on international negotiations and advocacy, among other classes, beginning in a week. “You will learn how to negotiate for the region and utilize techniques used in the industry and participate in simulated negotiations with Caribbean and Canadian nationals,” the university indicated in a statement. The negotiation and advocacy course will run for two weeks between January 13-24. Other courses being offered focus on trade in goods, tourism, intellectual property and regional integration and development.

NYU’s spring deadline for applications in its master’s degree and certificate programs, offered through its School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS), is January 7. Meanwhile, Columbia University’s Journalism School will accept applications for admission in its master of arts degree program though January 15.

For more information about the Shridath Ramphal Centre of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, visit shridathramphalcentre.org. For NYU call 212-998-7100. For Columbia Journalism School email admissions@jrn.columbia.edu. OnPointPress.net-

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Nelson Mandela’s autobiography inspires greatness, resilience

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By Carmen Glover

Some lives are so full and rich that it’s difficult for the pages of a book to contain them. The journey of late South African president and world icon Nelson Mandela is an example of such a life. Mandela recounts his triumph over adversity in his gripping, 625-page autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom (LittleBrown, $18). Initially released in 1994 and re-released in paperback form in 2013 with an insightful forward by former US president Bill Clinton, Long Walk to Freedom should be required reading for students of history, public affairs and seekers of knowledge and the keys to resiliency across the globe.

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Long Walk to Freedom details Mandela’s journey from his early years in the African village of Mvezo to his childhood home in Qunu which he describes as the place where he spent  “the happiest years of my boyhood.” The book then takes the reader on an engaging, humorous, sad, compelling journey that causes the words to leap from the page as the reader eagerly races to discover nugget after nugget of fact about a well-lived life. From his life as an attorney to his pivotal role in the African National Congress (ANC), which at first embraced non-violence before deciding to fight fire with fire in an attempt to rid South Africa of the racist scourge of apartheid, Long Walk to Freedom tells it all. And make no mistake, Mandela, who is often referred to by his clan name, Madiba as a term of respect, was not a prefect man. Wise, yes; stoic, yes; ambitious, yes; determined to gain freedom for his people, absolutely.

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Long Walk to Freedom is a great example of the power of keeping focused on your goals. When Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years, torn apart from his new bride and his young children, he could have given up. When he had offers to turn his back on his quest for equality for his people in exchange for his freedom he firmly turned down the offers while reinforcing his commitment to his comrades and his compatriots. Long Walk to Freedom serves as a road map to excellence, determination and conviction about living an authentic life. Eventually freed from prison, Mandela led his people to victory in the country’s first democratic elections in 1994, amid impressively long lines in the burning sunshine to which the eager voters seemed entirely oblivious.

As the movie, based on the book, continues to be shown in theaters around the world, now is a good time to leaf through the pages of the book to get the details of Mandela’s life, to better understand his brilliant mind, circumspect attitude and determined spirit. The great Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Mandela took millions of steps to achieve monumental goals in his Long Walk to Freedom. A great first step for 2014 is to treat yourselves to the investment of the time it takes to read this important, albeit lengthy autobiography and then catch Golden Globe nominee Idris Elba on the big screen as he brings the words to life. –OnPointPress.net.

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The OnPointPress.net family wishes all a Happy New Year

OnPointPress.net Editorial Director Carmen Glover interacts with CNN Anchor Don Lemon at the  Awards Gala.

OnPointPress.net Editorial Director Carmen Glover interacts with CNN Anchor Don Lemon at the NABJ 2013 Awards Gala in Orlando, Florida, this past summer.

As 2013 comes to an end and 2014 dawns, we are thankful for the opportunity we have had to share incisive and timely news with you all. We look forward to continue bringing you great news and entertainment coverage in 2014. We invite you to share your feedback and ideas about issues that you would like to see examined more closely as well as books, movies, plays and musical offerings that you would like to see reviewed.

It is our prayer for you all that you will express gratitude for your blessings and make an effort to effect change in every way possible so that, collectively, we can ensure a more just and loving world. Have a safe, prosperous and accomplished 2014. Thanks for your support in 2013. Continue to spread the word and join us on our journey in 2014.

The OnPointPress.net.Team.—