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


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 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.–






Reggae cruise boasts large numbers, great music, satisfied patrons

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

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

By Tiffany Mea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Musical performers included Busy Signal.

Musical performers included Busy Signal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those who stayed up after midnight witnessed rare jam sessions with surprise performances from some of the artists on deck. Click the link below to see what transpired on the 5-day voyage: information on the 2015 Welcome To Jamrock Reggae Cruise, please visit

Reggae songstress Etana releases new album “I Rise”


By Tiffany Mea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


state ministrer

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Etana, Fab 5 set to entertain at Jamaica’s Independence gala in NYC

Cultural reggae star Etana will perform at Jamaica's 52nd annual Independence ball on August 16, 2014.

Cultural reggae star Etana will perform at Jamaica’s 52nd annual Independence gala on August 16, 2014.

New York, August 16 2014: The stage is all set for the Skatalites, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Karl and Faye Rodney to be honored at the Jamaica Independence Ball in New York. The gala will take place on Saturday, August 16, at the New York Marriot Marquis Hotel, located at 1535 Broadway, New York. The gala will begin with a cocktail hour at 6:30 p.m. and run through 3:00 a.m.

Under the theme “Celebrating Greatness,” the event will feature a night of first-class entertainment and patriotic offerings. Cultural reggae star Etana will headline the gala, backed by the Fab Five band.

Former Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson

Former Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson will be the guest presenter  at the event.

The Skatalites are in the 5th decade of a long and superbly successful career as they continue to bring the rich culture of the Island through music (from the Ska era to reggae) to the world. The only surviving member Lester Sterling will be on hand to receive the award.

Sheryl Lee Ralph has never been shy to embrace her Jamaican heritage. To that end she has been a tireless advocate, philanthropist, and (unofficial) ambassador of the homeland. She is an accomplished actress; from the small and big screens to Broadway, leaving in her wake, groundbreaking performances which have won her rave reviews and numerous awards. She represents a slew of second and on generation Islanders, who value the culture and history of the land from which their parents originate.

Entertainer Sheryl Lee Ralph

Entertainer Sheryl Lee Ralph will be honored at the gala..

The husband and wife team of Karl; Faye Rodney are renowned in the Diaspora, particularly for their work in media. The Carib News, their brain-child, is a leading publication in the media capital of the world, New York, and serves as a leading voice of the Caribbean Diaspora.

Lester Sterling, the lone surviving member of the Skatalites.

Lester Sterling, the lone surviving member of the Skatalites. He will accept honors on behalf of the group.

Former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Hon P. J. Patterson, will be the special guest and presenter of awards for the evening.

For more information, JICFI may be reached at 631-374-7811, or 718-527-3484; email, The Jamaican Independence Celebration Foundation, Inc. (JICFI) is a 501 C (3) non-profit organization, dedicated to celebrating Jamaica’s independence which was gained on August 6, 1962.–

VP Records’ pop-up exhibit makes debut at recent jerk festival


Jerk Festival patron examines the VP Records exhibit.

Jerk Festival patron examines the VP Records exhibit designed by Michael Thompson.–Ajamu Myrie Photo.

By Tiffany Mea

2014 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 reggae company worldwide. The label celebrated with a special pop-up exhibit that debuted Sunday,July 20, at the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival 2014. The festival attracted over 15,000 patrons this year in Roy Wilkins Park in Queens, NY, and the VP Records 35th Anniversary launch event was among the main attractions.

Ribbon cutting

VP Records Co-founder Patrician Chin (c), surrounded by family and supporters,  cuts ribbon to launch the company’s  35th anniversary pop-up exhibit. –Ajamu Myrie Photo.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony kicked off at 2 p.m. VP Records Co-Founder Patricia Chin gathered with family and friends as media and fans caught the first glimpse of the historical feature, designed by Michael Thompson. Inside was an exclusive photo exhibit by Ajamu Myrie, documenting Jamaican reggae culture, an illustrative map exploring the global impact of the genre in every continent and a timeline covering each era, beginning in 1958 when the Chins established Randy’s Record Mart and Studio 17 in Kingston, Jamaica.

patc chin

Patricia Chin with Grace Jerk Festival Founder Eddy Edwards.-Ajamu Myrie Photo.

In a roped off area of the exhibit, Mrs. Chin debuted a short documentary video for the press. From ska to rocksteady, roots reggae to dub, lover’s rock to dancehall, VP Records has been at the forefront of Jamaica’s musical evolution. The video which was narrated by Sirius XM reggae personality Pat McKay, revealed the social and political history of Jamaican music and explained how VP Records is a key contributor to its growth, development and future.


A large crowd awaits performances by Maxi Priest and Etana at the Jerk Festival.-Ajamu Myrie Photo.

The label plans to take this traveling exhibit into other markets throughout the rest of the year, including Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival in Florida. More details will be announced at a later date. For more information contact–

Etana, Maxi Priest set for Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival, July 20


Etana, cultural reggae singer, will perform at the Grace Jerk Festival.

By Tiffany Mea

As New Yorkers gear up for this year’s summer activities, the city’s 4th annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival, scheduled for Roy Wilkins Park in Queens on Sun. July 20, rides high on the list of must-attend event. Cultural reggae star Etana, Maxi Priest and other guests will perform during a main stage concert to close out the day’s events.

Maxi Priest

Maxi Priest, whose new album debuted July 8, will perform at Grace Jerk Festival.

Centered around the world-famous Jamaican jerk cuisine, the festival combines culinary competitions, cultural and musical performances as well as family-oriented activities into one phenomenal day. Building on the success of last year’s festival, which attracted some 16,000 satisfied patrons, co-producers Jamaican Jerk Festival U.S.A. Inc. & VP Records are committed to providing more food, fun and family activities at the event.

jerk food

Jerk chicken will be among the delicious  food at the festival.

New York’s largest Caribbean food festival will be jam-packed with entertainment for everyone. This year’s highlights will include the Celebrity Jerk Cook-off, where last year’s winner New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio is expected to defend his title. There will also be a Caribbean Cultural Stage featuring traditional oral and folk performances, The Kidz Zone (a family favorite for kids of all ages) including rides, storytellers and face painting and The Corporate Row offering samples and give-aways from event sponsors.


Excited crowds have supported the festival over the years.

Maxi Priest is looking forward to a busy summer with the release of his new studio album Easy To Love on VP Records, which became available July 8. With over 15 million albums sold worldwide, a No. 1 U.S. Billboard hit and a Grammy nomination – the most successful solo act in British reggae history will bring his special brand of reggae, lover’s rock and pop to tug on the ladies’ heartstrings at the festival. Maxi will perform from his catalog of irresistible hits such as “Wild World,” “Some Guys Have All The Luck,” “Close To You,” and “Housecall” as well as songs from his upcoming album including the title track “Easy To Love.”

jerk food

An assortment of jerk food will be sold at the festival.

With her indomitable spirit and inspiring songwriting, Jamaican reggae songstress Etana will command plenty of attention at this year’s Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival New York. She will uplift generations both old and new with her collection of roots and R&B tinged hits. Recorded at Kingston’s legendary Tuff Gong Studios and backed by all live instrumentation, her latest album Better Tomorrow (VP Records) is a true testament to her evolved sound.

Jerlk Festival

Jerk Festival

Advance tickets are $30 and will be available online at and selected retail outlets in the next few weeks. Kids 12 and under are admitted free. Gates will open at 12:00pm and the fun will go on until 8:00pm.

The Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival New York is produced in association with Jamaican Jerk Festival U.S.A. Inc. and VP Records. It is sponsored by Western Union, the Jamaica Tourist Board, Vitamalt and Tower Isle Frozen Foods. For more information Email:–  

The Skatalites, Sheryl Lee Ralph, to receive Jamaica honors

Entertainer Sheryl Lee Ralph

Entertainer Sheryl Lee Ralph will he honored at the Jamaica Independence Ball in August.

By Andrea Daley

The Jamaica Independence Celebration Foundation Inc., ((JICFI), New York, will honor the Skatalites, a legendary Ska band of the 60’s, at its annual Independence Gala this year. The event will be held at the New YorkMarriott Marquis, 1535 Broadway, New York, on Saturday August 16. The event will begin with a cocktail hour at  6:30 p.m. while the rest of the activities will run from 8;00 p.m-3;00 a.m. This year’s theme is “Honoring Greatness.”Special guest and presenter of awards for the evening will be the Most Hon., P. J. Patterson, former Prime Minister of Jamaica.

Former Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson
Former Jamaican Prime Minister P. J. Patterson will present the awards to this year’s honorees.

The Skatalites began their storied journey in 1964 and staked their claim as Jamaica’s premiere Ska Band, while rising to prominence  and racking up legions of fans worldwide. Known for impressive horns and brass, they produced an impeccable, neatly synthesized sound, unleashing hits such as ‘Guns of Navarone,’ ‘Phoenix City, ‘Addis Ababa,’ ‘Silver Dollar,’ ‘Corner Stone,’ and ‘Blackberry Brandy,’ to name a few. This made them truly the soundtrack of that generation. Most of the original members of the Skatalites are now deceased.

Lester Sterling, the lone surviving member of the Skatalites.
Lester Sterling, the lone surviving member of the Skatalites, will be honored at the Jamaican Ball in New York on August 16.

Lester Sterling, the only surviving original member of the band , who played alto saxophone, will accept the award on behalf of the band. Posthumous awards will go to Don Drummond, who played trombone; Lloyd Knibb, drums; Jerome, “Jah Jerry’ Haynes, guitar; Jackee Mitto, piano; Lloyd Brevett, bass and drum; Tommy McCook, tenor saxophone; Roland Alfonso, tenor saxophone and John ‘Dizzy Moore, trumpet. Doreen Schaffer who later joined the group will also be in attendance to receive an award. Today, a new version of the band still tours, giving life to the music of the group while exposing the music to and attracting younger fans.


Cultural Reggae singer Etana will perform at the Jamaica Independence Ball and Gala in August.

The celebration of Jamaica’s Independence 52 years later still evokes great national pride amongst its sons and daughters everywhere. The annual gala attracts diaspora movers and shakers as well as friends and supporters from diverse backgrounds. This makes for a grand affair resplendent with all the cultural nuances: the flavor, sounds, fashion, music and food of the island all elegantly displayed and consumed in fine style.

This year, the gala will also honor noted actress and singer Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Dr. Karl and Faye Rodney, publishers of the Carib News. Part proceeds will be donated to charity. Entertainment will be provided by the Fab 5 Band and Roots, Reggae songbird, Etana.

For more information, JICFI may be reached at 631-374-7811, or 718-527-3484; email, –