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:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bkkvynS8dg.For information on the 2015 Welcome To Jamrock Reggae Cruise, please visit www.welcometojamrockreggaecruise.com -OnPointPress.net.

Happy 52nd Independence Day Jamaica, land we love!

Jubilant crowd at previous Jamaica Independence celebration at National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica.

Jubilant crowd at previous Jamaica Independence celebration at National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica.

By Carmen Glover

Kingston, Jamaica: On August 6, the picturesque island of Jamaica, known for late reggae icon Robert (Bob) Nesta Marley, delicious food, a lilting Caribbean accent and a cadre of fiercely proud and ambitious nationals, celebrates 52 years since the country gained it’s independence from the United Kingdom.

Jamaica's Prime Minister Hon. Portia Simpson Miller.

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Hon. Portia Simpson Miller.

The feeling of pride that infuses the hearts of Jamaicans at this time of the year is boundless. Many nationals, myself included, have flocked to the island to enjoy the Independence galas, festival song contest and other entertainment activities among family and friends.

Jamaica's Minister of Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change Hon. Robert Dixon Pickersgill.

Jamaica’s Minister of Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change Hon. Robert Dixon Pickersgill.

Jamaica has nurtured sons and daughters who have excelled on the national and international stage in just about every professional category imaginable. Among the Jamaican stalwarts who inspire a devoted following and interest in the country are former U.S.A. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Colin Powell; Charlotte Hornets Assistant Head Coach and former Knick center Patrick Ewing; track stars Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

NBA Hall of Fame Center and current Charlotte Hornets Assistant Head Coach Patrick Ewing.

NBA Hall of Fame Center and current Charlotte Hornets Assistant Head Coach Patrick Ewing.

Additionally, there is U.S.A.‎ Ambassador Susan Rice who boasts Jamaican heritage through her grandparents; entertainers and activists Sheryl Lee Ralph and Harry Belafonte; musicians Shaggy and Sean Paul and many more who span the professional spectrum.

Ambassador Susan Rice is the United States National Security Advisor.

Ambassador Susan Rice is the United States National Security Advisor.

While Jamaicans have a proud history of achievements, the country still has areas that need to be addressed in order to push the island forward to sustained growth and stability. For instance, the tendency that has recently been embraced of selling off national businesses to foreign investors is distressing and does not bode well for the nation.

Jamaican Independence postage stamp from 1962.

Jamaica Independence postage stamp from 1962.

Also, the incidence of crime, an issue which has plagued the island for decades, needs a feasible solution. The fact that the country is experiencing a drought since May, prompting the imposition of a water restriction by Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Robert Pickersgill, dampens the spirit a bit.

2013 World Athlete of the Year Award winners Usain Bolt (l) and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (r).

2013 World Athlete of the Year Award winners Usain Bolt (l) and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (r).

Nevertheless, these are exciting times for Jamaica as it ‎celebrates 52 years as an independent nation. The country’s motto “Out of Many, One People,” resonates deeply as the genuine warmth and passion of Jamaicans shine through from the moment a visitor or returning native lands on Jamaican soil.

Popular reggae singer and Grammy Award winner Shaggy is actively involved in social issues in Jamaica.

Popular reggae singer and Grammy Award winner Shaggy is actively involved in social issues in Jamaica.

In my case, being here for the Independence celebrations after a long time away evokes a flood of pleasant memories of a carefree childhood filled with summer excursions to the beach in Negril, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. As I retrace those steps with my family, I am grateful to be home and proud as ever of my rich heritage. Happy Birthday Jamaica, land we love!–OnPointPress.net.

Wayne Marshall shows “Tru Colors” in whirwind NYC trip

Reggae singer Wayne Marshall has returned to the dancehall scene with a bang.

Reggae singer Wayne Marshall has returned to the dancehall scene with a bang.

By Carmen Glover

The adage “good things come to those who wait,” has never been more true than what has been exemplified by reggae singer Wayne Marshall, who has made a triumphant return to the dancehall scene with his sophomore album, “Tru Colors” (Ghetto Youths International), eleven years after releasing “Marshall Law” (VP Records). But as far as the smooth-voiced singer is concerned, the timing is perfect and that’s all that matters.

Speaking to OnPointPress.net during a telephone interview from his hotel room on Wednesday, February 26, Marshall sounded relaxed and thankful as he basked in the glow of overwhelmingly positive feedback for “Tru Colors.” The eleven-year wait, Marshall explained, was a matter of divine order. “It’s about waiting for the right time, the right camp, for everything to fall into place,” he said reflectively. “The first CD was just a compilation, rather than doing a focused album, like I did with ‘Tru Colors.’ Now I feel like everything is right.”

image

From all indications, Marshall’s slow simmer approach has yielded spectacular dividends. “Tru Colors” sits comfortably in fourth place on Billboard’s reggae chart, and with each layer of exposure the album receives, another veneer of excitement  is lavished on the album, which, in turn, fuels even greater interest and industry buzz. As he counts down the hours to his album release party Thursday night at The Delancey in Manhattan, Marshall points to his early musical influences, while simultaneously lauding the expertise of his current producer, Damian “Junior Gong” Marley.

“My biggest musical influence is Bounty Killer,” Marshall stated unequivocally. “As a youth when I was 13, Baby, King Jammys’ son, introduced me to a new artist that his father was working with. That artist was Bounty Killer and I always thought that he was bringing a new flavor to dancehall. When we started working together and he showed me that he liked what I was doing, that felt good.”

L-R: Stephen and Damian "Junior Gong" Marley, who are actively involved in Marshall's triumphant return.

L-R: Stephen and Damian “Junior Gong” Marley, who are actively involved in coordinating Marshall’s triumphant return with his sophomore album “Tru Colors.”

Marshal has collaborated with Bounty Killer, Elephant Man, Sean Paul and Beenie Man in the past. Like he did with his debut effort, Marshall has collaborated with a legion of stars on “Tru Colors,” including Bounty Killer, Ace Hood, Cham, Waka Flocka, Assassin, I-Octane, Vybz Kartel and Tarrus Riley. While Marshall spoke earnestly about the importance of the diversity embodied on the tracks, he was unmistakable in emphasizing that the central component for the success of “Tru Colors” is the hands-on approach taken by the album’s producer, Damian “Junior Gong” Marley.

“Working with Damian Marley is an advantage for any artist because he’s a legendary, excellent, writer, singer and producer: a real triple threat,” Marshall mused. “It’s a dream come true for me to be working with the Marleys because growing up as a youth in Jamaica you saw the Marleys as reggae royalty.” Marshall described Damian as “a perfectionist” who knows the exact sound that he wants. Marshall credits Damian with unleashing his raw, intense, musical essence. “That’s why I call it “Tru Colors” because I think this is me showcasing my true self,” he explained. “It’s been such a long time since the last record that my sound, my lyrics and my style are more refined; a true evolution. Musically I am much more adept at my craft.”

Wayne Marshall is reflective and thankful that his sophomore effort is favorably received.

Wayne Marshall is reflective and thankful that his sophomore effort “Tru Colors”  is favorably received.

But his music is not the only thing that has evolved. Marshall, who describes himself as “very spiritual,” sports long dreadlocks these days, but he distinguishes himself from the Rastafarian faith, and explained that he focuses on solidifying his spiritual base instead. When asked how he is responding to his whirlwind two-day New York City jaunt, Marshall did not hesitate, “I’m enjoying the press coverage. All the media reviews so far have been good,” he said. “Just as the great ones have paved the way for us, this is my opportunity to pave the way for a younger generation.”

Marshall will be touring the United States in April and May with Stephen Marley and Jo Mersa to perform songs from “Tru Colors,” which is a 13-track collection. The album features fan favorites such as “I Know,” “Stupid Money,” “Go Hard,” “Go Harder,” “Be on the Alert” and “Nah Give Up.”  Marshall, who is married to Tami Chynn, the sister of Tessanne Chin of ‘The Voice’ fame, collaborated with his sister-in-law on the “Tru Colors” final track, “On the End.”

For Marshall, “Tru Colors” is his coming-of-age party and he is determined to savor every minute of it.-OnPointPress.net.

Please follow us on Twitter @ OnPointPress_.