Dancehall to the world, Jolly Boys take Europe, Young Artists Awards

FIRST DANCEHALL MOVIE FOR NOVEMBER RELEASE

A new Jamaican film is set to do for Dancehall what THE HARDER THEY COME did to take Reggae to the world. A DANCE FOR GRACE, winner of the Reggae Film Festival Honour Award for Jamaican Feature Film announced it will premiere in November at Kingston’s Carib Cinema after a VIP Launch October 23. Already previewers have acclaimed this J-American look at the controversial music genre, saying it is a big screen showcase that highlights the dancers, the dance moves and the hit-making tunes that fuel its popularity and inspire its fans, while totally ignoring the negative associations.

“A Dance For Grace” is a dance drama for all age groups with a primary focus on young adults between the ages of 13-35. the film tells the story of a group of teenagers from a small, rural town in Georgia who decide to enter a national dance contest in the hope of using the prize money to fund a life-saving operation for one of their town’s most beloved citizens—a woman named Grace.

Their effort to save Grace leads the group of high schoolers to their Jamaican born dance teacher, Ricky Myers, a reformed drug dealer, who teaches them a Reggae Dancehall routine to enter the contest. To experience the culture and learn the dance firsthand, they all travel to the birthplace of Reggae:  Jamaica! As the contest draws closer, Ricky’s past has caught up with him….. and the stakes get even higher. The once closely-knit community is in turmoil! The dance is now on…but will they win and save Grace?!!!

The groups arrival and presence in Jamaica is recorded by scenes of their visits to noted attractions and beauty spots, and lessons on Jamaican history and culture. But the most important Jamaican scenes of A DANCE FOR GRACE are set in the midnight world of dancehall, filmed at Passa Passa and other venues where dance crews perform their synchronized routines, competing with other crews for the video spotlight. The action of these scenes is well edited to the pulsing beat of Dancehall artists including Erup, Ding Dong and DeMarco, with several songs written specially for the film. The film also features scenes from the US dance competition of several dances by the group, as well as routines from other competing teams.

Filmed in the USA and Jamaica, A DANCE FOR GRACE is written by Jamaican Junior Powell and produced by Tower Isle Productions. Co producers are Orville Matherson, who also plays “Ricky” the lead character, Joan Edwards, a Jamaican corporate finance manager and Dale Foti, US co-producer. In addition to winning awards at February’s Reggae Film Festival where the film also won the Honour Award for Actor Orville Matherson, the film won the Silver Ace Award at the Las Vegas Film Festival 2010 and has premiered at the New York International Film & Video Festival and the Belize International Film Festival and the European Film Market, Berlin.

With plans to promote the film pre-release at upcoming dancehall events with prizes and giveaways, plus a VIP launch featuring a guest list of dancehall celebrities and dance crews, the film is certain to capture the attention of music fans in Jamaica and do a great job of promoting the musical genre globally.

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SUPERPLUS UNDER 40 ARTIST OF THE YEAR

Artists Tricia Gordon Johnston, Monique Lofters, Wayne Chen, Gilou Bauer, Winner Gerard Hanson

A sedate gallery of art lovers gathered last Tuesday at the Mutual Gallery, New Kingston for the announcement of the winner of the 2010 SuperPlus Under 40 Artist of the Year Competition. Works by the three finalists adorned the gallery walls, each artist presenting works contrastingly different from the others.

Tricia Gordon-Johnston’s mixed media on canvas collection featured simplicity, embellished with visions of butterflies. Gerard Hanson’s large portraits featured photo reproductions overlaid with bright acrylic colours. Monique Lofters awed the viewers with her painstakingly made soft balloons of cotton and foam gathered into huge sculptures which, she informed, indicated human cells and reproduction.

Tricia Gordon Johnston - 'Embracing 7 Cycles'

Sadly, there can be only one winner, which this year was Gerard Hanson winning not only the Jury Prize but also the Public Prize voted by visitors to the gallery in previous weeks of the exhibition – a phenomenon that occurred only once before in the competition’s 10 year history.

Gerard Hanson's 'Gaza 2'

Congratulations are due to Gerard Hanson on his achievement in a particularly competitive year and a very close finish. I also wish to congratulate National Gallery Chairman Wayne Chen of SuperPlus for his continued support and encouragement of Jamaica’s young artists and the creative arts in general, who suggested at the award ceremony that the development of community art centers and workshops would be a good way to use art to inspire inner-city residents and engage their creativity for new avenues of socialization.

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JOLLY BOYS TAKE EUROPE BY STORM

Led by the Jolly Boys summer tour of Europe, Mento music is making a comeback. The indigenous Jamaican form of calypso used to be the primary entertainment at Jamaica’s North Coast hotels in the 50s and 60s, where the lament of the “Yellow Bird” whose mate has left her nest again, and Harry Belafonte’s “Jamaica Farewell” were the hit songs of the time. Tourists were pleased to be entertained by songs, especially the naughty ones like “The Big Bamboo”.

A true African retention, mento combined ancestral rhythms with melodies of colonial culture and in the early 20th Century was a popular feature of weddings, holidays and village fairs. But by the 60s when jazz, big band and rock and roll became popular, mento faded and by the 70s ‘Yellow Bird” had been replaced by the international impact and appeal of reggae’s “One Love”. As mento’s popularity faded and the musicians aged, the music virtually disappeared from the entertainment scene, preserved by a few as a memento of a bygone age.

That is, until Portland’s Jolly Boys were reunited, revived, repackaged and re-presented to an enthusiastic and welcoming audience at a Red Bones Blues Cafe showcase launch in July. With the sounds of a standing ovation ringing in their ears, the Jolly boys embarked on a European tour that has taken them to stages all over the United Kingdom and Europe, and garnered them radio and TV interviews with leading newspapers such as the Guardian, New York Times, BBC-TV/Radio, and ITV. Among their many performances have been the Wild At Heart concert, East Sussex; the Isle of Wight Bestival, But their greatest impact was at the Notting Hill Carnival where old and young revelers smiled and danced at the old time music sounds and especially their new hit version of Amy Winehouse’s ‘Rehab” that has become their signature single.

Describing their music as “Jamaican Mento meets Modern Contemporary” the Jolly Boys new album “GREAT EXPECTATIONS” is out today and fans can hardly wait to order online. Congrats on the success, Jolly Boys, and especially to the man who put it all together, music producer and hotelier GeeJam’s Jon Baker.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

As we drove in through this splendid and beautiful city this evening, we saw something of the face of modern Ethiopia; a shining example of peaceful and purposeful progress achieved under the enlightened leadership of Your Imperial Majesty.

ELIZABETH II of ENGLAND: Toast to Emperor Haile Selassie I, State Visit to Ethiopia, 1965

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