Manifesto JA fosters Art'ical Empowerment
Garfene Grandison, Gleaner Writer
What better way to end a hectic Saturday than with live reggae music, and that's exactly what was being celebrated at ManifestoJA at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. It was the celebration of the arts, but more specifically musical artistry. Various bands came together to put on a stellar showcase in one night's package for a mere admission of $500. ManifestoJA was a spectacular showing of Jamaica's upcoming entertainment cadre featuring a number of rising talents, as well as two mainstream performers, Protoje and Tifa who both gave the night an added push. The showcase represented raw talents, as well as others that were formally trained. All in all, the performances were simply amazing.
The Festival of Art'ical empowerment was kicked off earlier in the afternoon with a tribute to reggae veteran Bob Andy. In a theatre filled with scores of eager reggae lovers, Donisha Prendergast, granddaughter of the late Bob Marley, held a one-on-one rap session with the reggae veteran about his life in the music business.
The session was an interactive one where questions from audience members or Prendergast sought responses from Andy on issues in the industry. He spoke about his life and the struggles he faced with his family life, but at the end of the day always listening to his inner voice. Andy ended the session by saying, "Music is a transformational spirit of the art and I am experiencing an unspeakable joy as I witness the legacy of my generation, and the ones before me, being carried on by the younger generation."
Talented rising stars
Immediately after the tribute rap session with Bob Andy, patrons moved next door to the music auditorium where the concert was about to start. It began at minutes to 9 p.m. when rising stars, acts who were a product of the ManifestoJA project, took to the stage to welcome the audience.
Enshane was the first to the stage, followed by Don Java, who did a song that spoke to poverty that went over well with the patrons. A few shouts erupted as he mentioned the state of the poor people and the roles of the politicians. A good topic to gain a fan base as the election date announcement looms. His third song tackled social issues apart from poverty such as gender, children, politics, etc.
Diggy Don, although starting off a bit weak, made a good comeback with an anthem that was dedicated to the women. Screams were heard in the audience as he serenaded the ladies, telling them how special they were and how much they should be respected and treated with dignity. These first three acts proved to be fairly talented as the co-host for the evening, Marlon Campbell, reminded the audience that they were chosen out of a pool of 60 persons who auditioned to perform on the ManifestoJA stage.
The Blue Print Band, consisting of past and present Edna Manley students, were also booked to perform. One of the most anticipated acts for the night, patrons erupted in cheers as the lead singer burst on to the stage. Babyboo, their anthem, went over well with the ladies as the lead singer ventured into the audience and serenaded a few of the female patrons.
Of notable mention to the night's success was Lee Tafari, who did a stellar job of entertaining the patrons during each band change. The DJ, who uses only vinyl records during each set, gave the patrons an entertaining segment each time as he drew hits from way back when from various artistes such as Black Uhuru, Junior Reid, and others. Tafari, with his excellent selecting skills, always managed to infuse more energy back into the audience during the band changes.
The Uprising Roots Reggae band that consisted of over a dozen members were welcomed to the stage. Their performance was highly anticipated. This band had impressively diverse range, with a number of instruments blending together to form a unique but harmonious sound. The guitar, drums, keyboard, saxophones, trumpet, et al, blended together with the voices to create music that was pleasing to the ear.
Raging Fyah, One Drop Band, Five Steez, Kabaka, Jah 9 and Chevaughn were the other performances that led the way to the night's main acts, Protoje and Tifa. Both gave a very entertaining set that had patrons on their feet, a tremendous achievement considering that they both went on at minutes to 1a.m. and minutes after 1 a.m., respectively. All in all, the concert was a great success as the second annual music festival continues to empower and foster the Art'ical movement.