Best of the Best in art and entertainment in 2016
Hello, and welcome again to my pick of the best of the year in the performing and literary arts in Dominica. Due to the range and diversity of artistes produced by the Nature Island it always makes it impossible to keep tabs on what's happening in the Diaspora because our infant industry generally has little or no knowledge of what they are involved with. For instance, just about a month ago I interviewed Dessie Hyson,a Dominican keyboardist and song writer formally of Moja Naya who played recently for the Wailers, Bob Marley's back up group. Few of us in the business of entertainment knew anything much about him. In fact he has been the only Dominican on record to have been nominated for the prestigious Grammy Awards in 2013, having written four of the 10 songs on that same group's release that year.
So let's stay within our shores and get right into it, music producer 'Dada' Lawrence is Dominica's ace producer this year having done tremendous work with leading local and regional Soca artistes with his own brand of Caribbean music in which best Cadence artiste of the year Janet "Angel" Shillingford is featured on the "Reloaded" album. Dada, to my mind, gets the nod over Cornel Phillip another local genius because of his experimentation and concentration at advancing Dominica's rhythms with the sole purpose of internationalizing it.
Of course though both Janae Jackson and the late Booplay arguably had two of the most sought-after compositions this year in the Calypso arena, the eight time monarch is still not dethroned as calypsonian of the year. Nonetheless, it must be noted that Dominica's calypso Queen challenged strongly and would have to be given the accolade of leading teenage solo artiste of 2016 by virtue of her CD release requests participation in more shows this year than any other artiste and having copped the Patois Song individual title for Independence.
Triple Kay again and again is band of the year: still Dominica's most popular dance/ party band, touring more than any other. The band also can boast of the leading front man, Benji, with song of the year "Nice Time.' However, the leading concert band is the Fanatic band who continues to do excellent work with international acts who visit our shores from time to time. They served many times as the backup group for Gordon Henderson for local and overseas engagements. Meanwhile Carlene XP is the leading female performer of the year as exhibited by the husband and wife duo of C Squared. She can be found performing weekly at the Fort Young Hotel, or doing background vocal for several acts, recording of tracks at Imperial Publishing Studios or up front with Fanatic Band..
Musician/ engineer of the year is Cornel Phillip for his leadership role in the above group, his studio work and his dexterity displayed on the keys, locally and internationally, with compatriots Jerry Moulon, Fitzroy Williams and Freddy Nicholas- the "fantastic four".
If 'Froggy' Joseph, who is hired for almost every concert or artiste of repute on island, is Dominica's leading drummer, one must acknowledge Odel Hamilton, the lead guitarist who actually carries the Xtacy band, for his brilliant finger-works on the fret board as top guitarist of the year. We must also acknowledge the competence and commitment of youthful bassist, Jervon Henderson- my pick for Dominica's promising musician in 2016.
Creative writer of the year is none other than former National Queen Leandra Lander for penning throughout the year: musicals, plays , speeches and for winning last month's Independence Literary contest in both English and Creole Poetry. Not only that, but she also came second in the short story category and her compositions won first place in the patois song individual and group categories! Never before has such an incredulous feat been achieved in Dominica's literary history.
Alick Lazare, the author of the book Pharcel is the leading author of the year for his latest publication 'Kalinago Blood'. In this publication Lazare traces back the adventures of Captain Thomas Warner and English adventurer who was half Carib! It's an international publication by the Abbott press- a division of the renowned Reader's Digest; a good gift and read for the holidays, I dare say.
Since the focus of this article is on artistes who reside on island, then, the male artiste of the year is undoubtedly Acer Bantan who continues to bring his brand of Bouyon music to all parts of the globe through his extensive touring throughout the region and far as London and Germany, while Cadance Princess (queen in waiting) Michele Henderson remains the leading female artiste of the year for her unrivaled international export of Dominica's music. These two individuals from the cultural community of Grand -Bay are Dominica's most sought-after solo artistes in the international arena serving as inspiration for young artiste as Mel- C who is beginning to make a name for herself in the Francophone world.
'Original Bouyon Pioneers', OBP, I have credited to have produced the best Bouyon album because of the musicianship, recording quality and content of Rah, Cornel, Smokey, Wackers and crew.
Because of back-to-back crowns for T 'Orkest in the NCCU Cadence Band Competition and so I was tempted to give the band the accolade of the most promising band on island. What the band needs now is more visibility, and a good album or two under their belt to solidify this claim. That's why one has no choice but to name the second place winners BREVE as the most promising band of the year. They have grown by leaps and bounds and have been on assignments in the French islands, the World Creole Music Festival and other prestigious events because of their fine artistry. All the musicians exhibit a degree of competence and their premier album this year bears testimony.
Best horn player is the saxophonist of the Swinging Stars, Cameron Douglas, a phenomenal sight reader whose services is hired both as a tutor and for various concerts in Dominica.
Not many new plays of note for this year, but Deliverance Baptist Church theatrical production on the evils of money and the subsequent conversion to Christ from a prison cell was one of the most powerful to be staged at the Arawak.
Finally, Vibes Radio, the only real music radio on island is the number one for pushing local content with DJ Flip, DJ Smooth, RS Digital and company, while Ferdina Frampton hosts the best talk show on Mondays via Q95 and Mr. Major Mystics' " 21 Questions" must be encouraged as the only music show on TV.
Notwithstanding Leroy "Wadix" Charles' phenomenal PR abilities with the WCMF Miguel Labadie as a show producer and promoter of Mirror Entertainment and with radio shows sponsored by DIGICEL is my local show promoter/producer of the year. He is also integrally involved in "Reggae on the Boardwalk" and various boat cruises in which music entertainment is central.
Until next time, reflect, be thankful to be alive and make Christ part of your life this coming year.
By Ian Jackson