Tue | Feb 18, 2020

Live From Kingston returns with an all-female line-up

Published:Sunday | December 2, 2018 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small
Naomi Cowan
Lila Ike

After a brief hiatus, Live From Kingston is back at Skyline Levels with a line-up of which feminist advocates would be proud. Koffee, Lila Ike, Naomi Cowan, and Yanah will take the stage of the event that takes place on December 22.

The event is supported by In.Digg.Nation. However, the music camp's head, Protoje, will not be performing this time around. Instead, he will make way for the women.

"Jason Panton was the one who suggested it first. I thought it was a brilliant idea and decided to pull it off," Protoje told The Sunday Gleaner.

The reggae artiste and Panton are constant collaborators. For this instance, their partnership aims to showcase the next best in the business.

"For us, Live From Kingston points people in a direction. If you're into reggae (not everybody is), we want this to be the showcase to see who's on the bubble," Panton explained.

Like a bubble, the concert needs some time to build.

"We needed 2017 to happen in order for us to get to 2018. That's what we've always done. We're not doing it for money, per say. If it was for large financial benefit, we would be obligated to bring it, even when it's not mature. It could be force-ripe."

Live From Kingston's first venue was Upper Manor Park Plaza in 2011. Initially, it pulled a crowd of approximately 200 people gathered at Panton's We Are Massiv. storefront.

"A bag a rasta and uptown people came together for a semi-acoustic reggae show, with artistes that weren't that popular. There was no barrier to entry. There was zero security, no gate we never had one incident, except cars being parked poorly. The next time it was about 300 400 people, and the next time it was 600. That was the last time we could have it at that location. That is the power of the music," Panton said.

The last staging of Live From Kingston was in 2016 at Skyline Levels, where young acts like BLVK H3RO, Runkus, and Xana Romeo took the stage.

Despite its irregular staging, Panton believes that the brand lives on because of its grass-roots beginning. More so, it holds historical relevance in that the previous stages carried some of today's biggest reggae names, before their 'big buss'.

Among the concert's alumni line-up are Chronixx, Jesse Royal, Keida, and Zuri Marley. "That was Zuri's first show ever. I think she was still in high school in her last year," Panton recalled. It was also at the event that Chronixx performed Spirulina for the first time. "We thought it was a freestyle, and one of Jesse's most magical performances was there," he gushed.

"Live from Kingston wouldn't be as memorable if acts like Protoje, Chronixx, or Jesse Royal hadn't progressed. All those guys are touring the world. This solidifies what happened during that time. I can look back, say I was there, like Studio 54, but in a conscious way," said Panton

Panton's life is split between Jamaica and the United States. Every Wednesday, he pulls on his selector skills for Miami's weekly instalment of Dubwise. "As a selector, as I see it, all of the bad song dem is from women! Dem girl yah ah lead out," he exclaimed. He believes that now is the best time for female artistes, especially in reggae. "I think they are going to go very far in music. This showcase will be one we remember."

Protoje agrees: "I think it's in the natural order of how things are happening right now with the great music these young women are doing that it's the right time to do something like that. It seems very natural to me."

"It's a very special time that we live in. Jamaica is always ahead, even when we don't think we are."