Cultural Voice eZine

Monday, 30 January 2012

Welcome to Jamrock! Junior Gong and Celine Dion Rock Jamaican Jazz and Blues Festival!

Celine Dion's version of the sexy black dress was more than just eye-catching.
Source: Jamaica Gleaner

Celine Dion certainly received a fantastic welcome to Jamrock on Friday evening. Over 30,000 patrons swelled the Multi Purpose Stadium, Jamaica on Friday night, travelling from Negril Point to Portland and beyond to have a chance to experience Celine Dion perform live.

The Team From Artistic Expressions with Celine After the Show

Celine Dion lived up to expectations! She left her heart onstage and performed as if she was building a career. Onstage and off, Celine was professional, down to earth, appreciative of her fans and an excellent example for all Artists. On meeting Celine, it was evident that she cared deeply for others, and took time to talk to the Jamaican staff and crew attending to her needs, even wishing the AE Team safe travels as we tackled the post show traffic. We were impressed!

Source: Jamaica Observer

"Out in the streets, they call it MUUUURRRDER!" - Jr. Gong Marley
Damian Jr. Gong Marley murdered the show with love, livity and strong messages on saturday night, delivering an inspiring, thought provoking, energetic performance. Jr. Gong incorporated history, his personal experiences, his father the legend Bob Marley, and was joined by Stephen Marley, Dean Fraser and Bobby Brown to great effect. Jr. Gong used to the opportunity to raise awareness about the need for improvement of the services at the University Hospital of the West Indies and for Jamaicans to cultivate an attitude of excellence in whatever endeavor undertaken.

The Temptations, Source: Jamaica Observer

The Temptations must be commended for taking us on a trip down memory lane. They delivered an excellent performance, complete with choreographed sequences characteristic of the group, and had fans screaming as they sang "My Girl". They showed true class and the audience loved them!

Huge Turnout for Celine Dion at Jamaica Jazz and Blues!

Standing Room Only in the Trelawny Multipurpose Stadium!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Highlighting Wars to Promote Peace: Forgotten Diaries Explores

"War in the east, war in the west
War up north, war down south
War, war, rumours of war"

It is a little known fact that dozens of wars are currently being waged around the world. Outside of the Middle East, most of these conflicts are shunned by, and receive almost no attention from the media. An even less known fact is that of the vastly untapped potential of young people in these zones and the significant role they can play in peace building.

"That until there are no longer first class
And second class citizens of any nation
Until the colour of a man's skin
Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes
Me say war"

These two little known facts form the heart of the motivation driving the team of seven hard working young people behind ‘Forgotten Diaries’. Forgotten Diaries (FD) is a project which aims to raise awareness of the dire situation facing over 100 million children and youth living in conflict ridden environments. Their unique and innovative approach involves the use of a dedicated web platform which connects the young bloggers from each of 10 ‘forgotten’ conflict zones around the world, allowing them to share their stories and present a human face to each crisis.

Conflict Zones include: East Timor, Ethiopia, Somali and Somaliland, India and Pakistan, Nigeria and Niger Delta, Serbia and Kosovo, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Turdistan & Uganda

"That until the basic human rights are equally
Guaranteed to all, without regard to race
Dis a war"

However, even more innovative and exciting has been their ability to empower young people to take an active role in community and peace building, highlighting the enormous potential young people play in shaping the otherwise dire futures of many of these areas. Following online training on project development and online media, Forgotten Diaries has issued grants to 13 young social entrepreneurs in conflict and post conflict zones to start community peace building and development projects. The projects ranged from youth-led dramas educating children about peace in Nepal led by Shree Thapa to programs targeted at helping disabled youth integrate into society in Rwanda led by Emmanuel Niyamugabo. Several projects also focused on building a culture of peace and non-violence, a vital aspect in countries where youth have grown up only knowing violence.

" FD's Teenage Peace Brigade Project, Ethiopia"

 "Until the philosophy which hold one race
Superior and another inferior
Is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned
Everywhere is war, me say war"
- Bob Marley, War

FD Sponsors Theatre Group in Nepal to Educate Children about Peace

Conflict resolution is complex, challenging, and costly, and even the world’s top diplomats and politicians struggle endlessly in pursuit of peace. However, many of the world’s conflicts share some key elements including a lack of tolerance, understanding, empathy and humanity by many of their perpetrators. Forgotten Diaries has aimed to tackle these fundamental characteristics by attempting to engrain such values in tomorrow’s generations.

FD was started in 2008 and is run by a dedicated team of young volunteers from around the world. FD has already received tens of thousands of visits and won praise from organizations including the Pulitzer Centre, Oxfam and Microsoft. Forgotten Diaries is a project of Youth Action for Change (YAC).

 Cultural Voice supports the efforts of FD and will be featuring articles from bloggers on the FD site as a part of our own efforts to increase intercultural dialogue and promote awareness of cultural conflicts around the world in an effort to contribute to finding creative solutions. For more information please visit FD's website

Info on FD contributed, song lyrics: Bob Marley's 'War'

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Bahamas, the perfect wedding destination or just a brand?

The Bahamas, Source:Travel Peach

In the Caribbean, we pride ourselves for our beautiful beaches and breathtaking attractions. Tourism is one industry where we have a competitive advantage and, one of the primary sources of income for our developing nations. As such we develop brands, such as "reggae capital", "Dream Destination", among others to distinguish one destination from another.

In an effort to reinforce the image of The Bahamas as the most desirable location for dream weddings (an initiative which I think should be congratulated), a competition which serves to raise awareness about the islands of the Bahamas, and to engage the interest of a primary marketplace was launched in 2011. This competition was open to couples throughout the United Kingdom, a huge source of foreign tourists for the island. Brides-and-grooms-to-be uploaded their snapshots and videos to tell why they wished to win a free island wedding in The Bahamas. The Winners were recently announced.

Source:Air Capital Travel

Each couple has won their own special wedding ceremony on one of 16 different Islands of The Bahamas and all will marry simultaneously on 16th May 2012, at 16:00 hrs. 

Couples chose amongst 16 different islands and wedding styles, from barefoot-on-the-beach ceremonies to marrying on the ocean floor with dolphins in attendance. A backdrop of an iconic candy-striped lighthouse or the regal elegance of 14th century cloisters. Whether opting for the accompaniment of boisterous music and colourful Junkanoo costumes or the soft tinkling of seashell wind-chimes, every island offers a special opportunity for their truly unforgettable big-day.

 (Source: Bahamas Weekly)

Peter John & Joanna Barbara - Cat Island

Peter John & Joanna Barbara
Cat Island, Bahamas
Cat Island, Source: NASA

Quick Fact - Cat Island

Mount Alvernia—the highest point in the Bahamas, with an elevation of approximately 63 meters (206 feet) above sea level—is located on the southeastern part of the island.

Jill and Phillip - Eleuthera
Jill & Phillip

Eleuthera, Source: IHA

Quick Fact - Eleuthera

The name "Eleuthera" is derived from the feminine form of the Greek word eleutheros, "free" (Wikipedia)

Islands in the Bahamas

Map of the islands of the Bahamas
Islands in the Bahamas, Source:

THE ABACOS: Carla Nevill and Daniel Coote from Baldock, Hertfordshire

ACKLINS: Louise Murfin and Steven Bennett from Ferndale, Huddersfield

ANDROS: Helen Hewett and Jonathan Briley from Tuffnell Park, London

THE BERRY ISLANDS: Jade Chin and Mikhail Tokarczyk from Kentish Town, London

BIMINI: Lindsay McAloon and Charles Price from Bath

CAT ISLAND: Joanna Wicenciak and Peter Dennis from Scunthorpe

CROOKED ISLAND: Felicity Carpenter and Andrew Webb from Amesbury, Wiltshire

ELEUTHERA: Jill Barthram and Phillip Jones from London

THE EXUMAS: Grazina Zaveckaite and Ruslanas Nekipelovas from Edinburgh

GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND: Mary Gleeson and James Potter from Dover

HARBOUR ISLAND: Laura James and Richard Baker from Whiteley, Fareham

LONG ISLAND: Sarah Wassall and Colin Beechey from Blackpool

NASSAU: Claire Gordon and Jason Harris from Rhyl, North Wales

MAYAGUANA: Claire Wilcox and James Williams from York

PARADISE ISLAND: Adele Freeman and John Applin from Balby, Doncaster

SAN SALVADOR: Teresa Maria Gilarranz Pena and Tarik Demnati from London

Monday, 23 January 2012

Olive Senior: Jamaican Gem "Creating Memorable Characters in Prose or Poetry"

                                                                                    "We all play roles in life."
- Olive Senior

A Cultural Voice representative was present at the UWI writing workshop hosted by Olive Senior on Saturday January 21, at the University of the West Indies, titled "Creating Memorable Characters in Prose or Poetry." Participants were warned to come prepared to write and participate.

As an opening exercise each participant chose a random photograph from a stack provided.  The challenge was to  manipulate perspectives with respect to: voice, tone, viewpoint and time while maintaining the same focus of attention by answering  a series of questions relating to the photograph.

"Write something everyday, same place, same time - Olive Senior"

Rasheen, one of the participants, spoke to Cultural Voice after the event.  She noted that she felt that this particular exercise really made a difference in understanding different perspectives. I found some of the descriptions and characterizations that came out of the session to be quite colorful and engaging and an excellent exercise in understanding different perspectives in writing. The exercise was significant because it demonstrated that  inspiration for writing can come from anywhere, and as Olive Senior said during the workshop, the world provides us with lots of information for writing poetry and prose. She told the audience that it was a good habit to write something everyday at the same time, regardless of what it was.

Olive Senior takes time out to speak one on one with High School Students who participated in the workshop

Another very engaging exercise was analying characterization through the eyes of poets including the Russian Poet Anna Akhmatova, American Poets Robert Hayden and Geraldine Brooks and our very own Kamau Brathwaite. One of the participants Vinti expressed great appreciation for this particular exercise post workshop, telling Cultural Voice that she had not previously thought of characterizations in poetry in quite the same way.

Olive Senior engages participants in conversations post workshop

Overall the workshop gave very interesting insight into the development of characters in both Poetry and Prose, while providing tidbits such as, always knowing the motivation of characters, giving direct and indirect character traits in descriptions, and always visualizing characters being developed.

Cultural Voice had the good fortune to interview Olive Senior post workshop. We will share her musings on inspiration, culture, travelling and more soon...

Other Reviews of "Creating Memorable Characters in Prose or Poetry":

"I have heard of Olive Senior all my life and now that I have had the pleasure of meeting her I wonder, where has this gem of a woman been. She needs to be better recognized for the value she has. She was very focused and effective in the workshop."

- Sonja

"I liked how she spoke about characterization and encouraged the writer to express the inner beings of the writer"

- Andre

"I really enjoyed how accessible the content was to the general audience. The material was easily available and broken down for persons who never had previous exposure (to writing Poetry or Prose). That is the mark of a good teacher"

- Haidee

Friday, 20 January 2012

Etta James: In Memory

A Youthful Etta James

Etta James sang blues like no other, rocked us with rock and roll, bared her soul, took us to her gospel roots and is arguably one of the greatest Jazz artists.
Photo Credit: Kwaku Alston

We will miss her, but her contribution is endless. Songs such as "At Last", "Don't Cry Baby", & "Don't Go To Strangers" served as the backdrop for lovers in multiple generations, and her powerful story of overcoming stands strong.

A More Mature James

Etta James has struggled with many issues including an addiction to heroin. Her husband Artis Mills went to Jail for 10 years, after taking responsibility for heroin possesion in their home.

Etta James, winner of 6 Grammy Awards and 17 Blues Music Awards came from humble beginings. Raised mainly by "Sarge", "Mama Lu" and her mom "the Mystery Lady" she had her first exposure to music in the Church.

We remember Etta James' beautiful voice singing the lyrics:

At last, my love has come around
My lonely days have ended
And Life is like a song....

Monday, 16 January 2012

Born To Dance! Georgey Souchette - A French/Caribbean Gem!

Photo: Monica DaSilva

In 2010, Cultural Fusion featured a French Dance Company under the Artistic Direction of Rick ODUMS, originally American who found a home in France. Undoubtably, one the stars of that show was Georgey Souchette, who I had the pleasure of interviewing for Cultural Voice via skype.

Photo: Monica DaSilva

"You always struggle in art"

If you don't believe that intercultural exchange breaks down borders, listen to how I met Georgey! On a cold day in November, 2009, I was making my way home from a day teaching english to high school students in Nanterre, a suburb just outside the Paris, France when my cell phone rang. A heavy creolised french accent said 'hello' on the other end. He introduced himself explaining that he was recruiting dancers for a project in Tolouse, near to the South of France. I thought how odd, and random,  and for a moment considered that it  must  have been a divine conspiracy to get me back in the dance studio and on a stage! How did anyone in Paris know that I was even a dancer?!
Then it all became clear, that the intercultural forces were at work! Georgey then told me that he met Shelly Hebert on a dance project in NYC a few years before, and she told him recently that I was then living in France and potentially available to dance. By the way...I met Shelly, an American when she spent one season dancing with the NDTC in Jamaica! back to the interview!

Photo: Monica DaSilva

Quick Facts Georgie:

· Danced in the French Productions of Broadway Musicals 'The Lion King' and 'AIDA'
· Born in St. Marteen
· Loves Vietnamese Food (Loves to eat generally)
· Believes the true artist should not be commercial

Georgey started his career studying history, and says he somehow ended up in dance school preparing to be a professional dancer, and he's always been dancing since. Once he discovered dance it was clear that there was nothing else for him to do. He feels strongly that he was truly born to dance.

Having started his training in St. Martin, a French Caribbean territory, doing mainly afrocentered dancing,  he faced many discoveries and challenges when he moved to France especially as it related to adapting to the culture. In his experience he shares that people spent a lot of time telling him that dancers should specialise and that he couldnt do all tyes of dances, that he needed to define yourself. He's however has remained very open to all dance forms and enjoys the exploration.

Georgey shares with Cultural Voice that culturally St. Martin and France and very different. He sees St. Martin in the midst of an identity crisis due to the extended trauma which the people faced during slavery and under colonial rule. He extends it to the Caribbean generally saying that a lot of Caribbean People have suffered from the historical dissadvantages.

Independence for St. Martin?

Georgey is not in favour. he sites too many problems including the dependence on tourism and vulnerable industries and the lack of a strong local government.

St. Martin Island
Pic of St. Martin on
Quick Facts St. Martin:

  •  Currency: Euro
  • 300KM east of Puerto Rico
  • Main City Marigot
  • The Island has no rivers