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.–

Finding Samuel Lowe depicts tale of love, family, determination, grit


Samuel lw

Trailer from the documentary that tells the tale of the cross-continental search to find relatives.

By Carmen Glover

Retired NBC executive Paula Madison can truly say that she has reached the self actualization phase on Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. Drawing from her love for family and the desire to trace her roots and forge a connection with all members of her extended family, Madison and her siblings, Elrick and Howard, embarked on a cross-continental quest to find their maternal grandfather, Samuel Lowe. The journey takes Madison and her siblings to the picturesque island of Jamaica, the homeland of their parents, to China, the homeland of their maternal grandfather. The result is the film Finding Samuel Lowe.

At a screening held at the Museum of the Moving Images in Queens, New York last Friday in conjunction with the New York Association of Black Journalists (NYABJ), Madison talked about growing up in Harlem with her mother, after her father was deported back to Jamaica, and observing an air of sadness hovering around her mother, whose face was unquestionably Asian.

paula madison

Retired NBC executive Paula Madison is greeted by a relative on one of her trips.

“Finding my family has been like filling a hole that existed in my soul. That longing that I had to find my family has been filled. Since I have found my family in China I have been back to China every six months,” Madison stated during a question-and-answer session that followed the screening. “It feels like I’ve been guided my grandfather since I was a child,” she said as she examined various truths that she unearthed during the investigation for the film and the redemption came when the family all met. “When we gathered in China there were over 320 of us and all of us were Lowes.”

The film explores the origins of the Haka clan, a Chinese tribe to which Madison’s ancestry was traced, the history of Chinese indentured servants in the Jamaica, how those servants eventually became entrepreneurs, and the link between the Chinese men who came to work in the cane fields in and the black women in Jamaica bonding and forming families.

Members of the Lowe family joyously come together in the spirit of love.

Members of the Lowe family joyously come together in the spirit of love.

The values emphasized in the film, such as respect for education, family and prosperity are stark. Told with no holds barred, Finding Samuel Lowe is an emotional, loving, tribute to a family’s determination to answer the most fundamental of questions: Who am I? It describes a journey that many viewers will be inspired to take so that they, too, can answer that question without reservations.

The screening was attended by a large contingent of NYABJ and NABJ members, current and former NBC employees, and media stars such as former Essence magazine editor Susan Taylor, publicist/author Terrie Williams and Karl and Faye Rodney, publishers of the Carib News. The film, which was directed by Jeannette Kong, will be screened in Jamaica, West Indies on July 30. Visit the website for more information.

Madison has been involved actively in the  national and local chapters of the association of black journalists for years. She is now expanding into the Chinese portion of her culture and will release a book detailing her nuanced journey, under the Harper Collins imprint, in February 2015.–