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Raising the Bar for Women in Reggae

By May 19, 2015Articles

by Chyna Nicole courtesy https://www.cprreggae.org

The Coalition to Preserve Reggae Music (CPR) an organization co-founded by Sharon Gordon & Carlyle McKetty made its mark in Reggae when it courageously celebrated its 10 Year Anniversary by staging International Women of Reggae, celebrating the feminine energy in reggae with a night of hits! The CPR team made the bold statement that an all female show can be successful by staging a grand event in the Walt Whitman Theater of the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College on Saturday, April 25, 2015. The concert headlined by VP Recording Artist Etana,billed as the leading lady of reggae , as well as featured hit maker and veteran Nadine Sutherland; Shuga, Jamaica’s new sensation; Dancehall veterans Lady Ann and Junie Ranks; Canada’s Tasha T, 2015 Juno Award nominee, and risings stars Chyna Nicole (New York) and Kristine Alicia (Florida). “This is what Bob Marley would want,” said Sharon Gordon in a recent interview conducted by Debra Lewis-Boothman.

It is no secret that reggae is dominated by males in all realms including business negotiations, investing, promotions, recording contracts, audio/lighting engineering, musicians for hire and working artists and it is very rare in the genre that we find an all female line up in a concert hall anywhere in the world. The night was filled with love songs, powerful messages, dance and entertainment, channeling the message of the unity and strength of the feminine energy in reggae and manifested in a professionally produced show sending a stronger message to the world. The success is being communicated through vivacious stories from members of the audience, stunning photography that captured the essence of each moment, brilliant archival footage and the invitation of the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts to return next year with another concert event, magnifying the power of the CPR mode of “working together to make things work.”

Rehearsals

The Coalition to Preserve Reggae had rehearsal times set for each artist with a full band and backing vocalists. The band members were pleasant, professional and timely. Lenny (guitar and musical director), Carlyle McKetty (keys), Marvin (drums), Hoover (bass) and Ricky (keys) paid attention to each performer – no matter the success of the artist. At each rehearsal, which took place at a rehearsal studio in Brooklyn, backing vocalists Simone Gordon and Althea Layne-Hamilton did their part to ensure the integrity of the presentation.

Before the Show

CPR welcomed artists with dinner, providing full dressing rooms, perfect professional sound and lighting, thoughtful backstage communications, escorts for the artist, bottle water and VIP area with exquisite hor’ d’oeuvres and a carpeted reception in fine style. CPR members and volunteers, including Andrea (Anmour) Holmes Seymour, Seba Damani Saunderson, Tyrone Roberts, Radio Rahim (original subject of Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing” movie) CJ Saunders and more dedicated members were hospitable to artists, families and attendees.

Memorable Moments

Singer/Backing vocalist Simone Gordon warmed up the audience solo as Althea Layne-Hamilton (veteran backing vocalist) serenaded. Both Simone and Althea shared melodious voices backing all artists (except headliner Etana) for the evening.
Chyna Nicole Perform 3

Yours truly, Chyna Nicole took audiences to the moon as they joined with me in singing my charted hit Take Me to the MoonLove Me Forever cover” and Waiting in Vain cover.

Kristine Alicia powerfully sang “Freedom Fighters” as audience pumped their fists for freedom. She also sang love song “Will You Still Love Me,” a cover.

Lady Ann delivered her hit “Informer” and had the audiences rocking and laughing to her humor and entertainment.
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Junie Ranks also brought audiences back to original dancehall with her “Big and Ready,” and mesmerized guitar player Lenny with her seductive sultry rub during her performance.

Nadine Sutherland lit the entire Walt Whitman Theatre belting a string of hits including “Action,” “Wickie Dickie,” “Babyface,” “Walk Away from Love,” and more! She danced, enthusiastically sang and gave a brilliant and memorable performance.

Tasha T delivered strong with “One Draw,” her charted hit “Bed of Fire”, and more bringing her cultural vibe to the stage!

Shuga sang her hit songs “Ride di Riddim” and more ending her set with the inspirational “Ebony,” and received a standing ovation!

Etana, the headliner,glamorously dressed in a black and white gown was gracious on stage and sang like a bird. She smiled and gave little excerpts, speaking to the audience before many songs, including “Stepping out of Babylon”, “Jamaican Woman,” “Richest Girl,” and more from her recent release “I Rise”. Etana has evolved beautifully dancing more and smiling during her performances. She rocked the audience and had them to their feet dancing.

Photo © Melvin Calender

Photo © Melvin Calender

The Reggae star ended the concert with a finale, welcoming all of the performers to the stage to sing her United Nations pick Better Tomorrow from her junior (3RD) album, and invited Lady G, from the audience to come on stage and join the ladies. Lady G told the audience she was there to support the event as an audience member and not a performer, but when Etana gave her the microphone, it was pandemonium! She “tore the house down” with hits like Breeze Off and more. The finale signaled a vision come to fruition and before it was over, Ms. Pat of VP Records and Ms. Gordon were on stage to congratulate all performers with floral arrangements and gift bags.

Accolades Galore

These are only a few of the accolades which continue to come:

“When is the next show on the tour?” an audience member asked.

Producer Chilla Clarke of Chilla Music Production offered his congratulations saying “Blessings Sharon Gordon, I must also thank you and Carlyle McKettyfor putting together the #1 show of the year so far. Coalition to Preserve Reggae (CPR) Professionalism turn way up. Respect!!!! “

If you missed this historic event of an all female line up, be sure to contact CPR with requests.

To join The Coalition to Preserve Reggae and for broadcasts and updates, log on to www.cprreggae.org

Stay tuned for the next event!

“Wouldn’t this have been more powerful had a full house turned out to support the women?” said Sharon during a discussion with a CPR member.

 Photo: The ladies (L-R): Nadine Sutherland, Chyna Nicole, Shuga, Tasha T, Junie Ranks, Lady G, Etana, Lady Ann, Simone Gordon and Althea Layne-Hamilton with Etana’s Band.   Photo:  Melvin Calender

Photo: The ladies (L-R): Nadine Sutherland, Chyna Nicole, Shuga, Tasha T, Junie Ranks, Lady G, Etana, Lady Ann, Simone Gordon and Althea Layne-Hamilton with Etana’s Band. Photo: Melvin Calender

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