Women shine at Earth Hour 2023
Queen Ifrica celebrated along with ‘mama earth’
By the time Queen Ifrica graced the stage at Saturday’s Earth Hour JA Acoustic Concert, the entire audience was aware of her ‘earthstrong’, and would have received their informal vocal training from the preceding acts, to be ready to welcome her.
Opening the show was 5 Star Celestial, who set the tone for an evening of word, sound and power – and a mood of celebration for life. He was one of three males on the line-up; the others were Ras I and Fanton Mojah, and while their performances were memorable, adding to the ambiance, and resonant message to protect the earth, the females definitely sparkled in the spotlight.
Rising star, Joby Jay, also added her own ‘big girl’ touch by baring her soul in songs such as Cool Breeze, Deception and of course her Big Girl Ting hit. She also performed Pressure Busspipe’s Love and Affection, as she emphasised the importance of self-love, protecting a woman’s heart and how it all contributes to the way the earth flourishes.
Jamila Falak, known for her having an impressive handle on the double bass, came out strong with her musical weapon and this time around, she came with an army. She was supported by a band of female musicians, including Zoe McIntyre on flute; Emily Elliott on cello; Morgan ‘Marz’ Marson on guitar; as well as singer Moon; and dub poet and lyricist Rica G, an idea inspired by cultural historian and curator for the Jamaica Music Museum, Herbie Miller, who she calls her mentor.
The all-female band performed renditions of Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass and The Heptones’ Book of Rules. Falak, Elliott, Moon and Rica G also showed their vocal power on the reggae rendition of Nina Simone’s Four Women, but not before doing a tribute to Queen Ifrica, who in 2021, was featured on an EP titled Celebrating Nina: A Reggae Tribute to Nina Simone singing the same song. They also sang ‘happy earthstrong’ and her hit Lioness on the Rise in the segment.
“I’m all about women empowerment, as is suggested in the lyrics of my own songs, and these ladies are like my sisters; we play together often and it was just fitting to have them share the stage with me. After all, we were celebrating the earth, who we call ‘mama earth’. Our song selection was love songs to mama earth and us being reflections of her soul,” Falak, who is an environmentalist by nature and profession, told The Gleaner following her performance.
She continued, “Together we are La Bohème, meaning ‘iconoclastic’, ‘against the odds’ and ‘different’ – all of this was truly inspired by Uncle Herbie, who has always envisioned an all-female band, and we were able to stand together for a cause. We have collaborations amongst ourselves, in the making, and our music tells of different stories, which is one reason I specifically asked Moon to join me and for her to sing her song Yemaya.”
No doubt, the event got off to a great – though late – start; however, it would not be Murphy’s Law if a few things did not go awry, said Khalia Hall, the sustainability representative of Esirom Foundation, the organisers of the Earth Hour JA Acoustic Concert. It was expected that during the actual earth hour between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m., as part of tradition, lanterns would be released into the air to raise awareness and inspire collective action against climate change, but it did not happen.
“There were delays in crucial individuals arriving, and I think with other events happening on the day, it resulted in some unpredictable circumstances. But we were grateful that patrons were patient and spent the time indulging in the offerings of our vendors and participated in the games set up in our ‘Planet Play’ area, and vibed to music from the Red Bull van,” Hall said.
Hall, along with Minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, presented a cake to Queen Ifrica, who said that the gesture “made my day and night”.
“I could not think of a better way, or more selfless cause to be involved in, as I celebrate my birthday,” she expressed. Queen Ifrica’s performance, as described by both organisers and patrons, was “one for the books” as she urged everyone to be mindful of their actions and the reactions by mother earth, while delivering an engaging set of hits after hits to bring the show to a close.