July 17, 2009


By: Mel Cooke
As she presented Montego Bay, her second full-length set, at her first album launch on Tuesday evening, Queen Ifrica's face and posture reflected the mood of the songs.
And there was ample time and reason for the changes, Ifrica explaining the background to almost all the songs on the 13-track set in an extended stint at the podium during which she got noticeably more comfortable as time went on, engaging the large audience at Kabana, Hope Road, St Andrew.
The trip through an outstanding album actually started with her voice alone, not the actual recording, as after a herald of horns, Ifrica delivered the album's title track a cappella, smiling, the audience cheering at the start and again when she hit the chorus.
After the recording was played, Ifrica explained, "Montego Bay is special to me. That's where my whole Rastafari development took place." Still, she noted, the inner-city communities do not see the benefit of the 'lush' from the tourism industry.
She was sombre for Streets Are Bloody, dedicating it to 20-year-old Ejaun, "a very close individual to Flames. He was gunned down by a soldier at a club". Ifrica described Ejaun's kindness, respectfulness and computer
wizardry, commenting that in the society "the people who do good are the people who die like this". The song has the line "none is immune, Ejaun gone to soon".


Ifrica smiled as she asked, "Any lovers? Any husband, any wife, any matie?", before In My Dreams was played, rocking away with eyes closed and clasping her left shoulder with her right hand.
And when she said "we ago step up the vibe" with Yad To The East, commenting "dis a di man whe dem sey inna Ifrica", Ifrica grinned gloriously as the rhythm hit and the crowd exploded at the opening line, "Selassie I never lose a fight yet".
And so it continued, Ifrica often merging her voice with the tail end of the recordings, playfully prodding the audience to more enthusiastic applause and dropping advice on hard work, focus, purpose and the importance of teamwork to younger artistes.
She has stuck to a team, as before she sang along to the recorded songs on Tuesday night, Ifrica sang the praises of Tony Rebel, giving the background to starting to work with his Flames Productions in 1998, after performing at a Garnet Silk tribute concert. And among the other persons Ifrica said thanks to was Penthouse's Donovan Germaine who "say I am a granddaughter of Penthouse, because Tony Rebel is a son".
Guest speaker Kay Osbourne, general manager of TVJ, heaped praises on Queen Ifrica and Montego Bay, which she described as an awesome collection that showcases the inner workings of Ifrica's mind and soul.
"It is clear that this unique woman of truth has something to say," Osbourne said, taking a closer look at many of the songs. "She expresses the personal universally," Osbourne said later in her address.
However, Osbourne is not impressed with much of Jamaican music being produced currently, pointing out the narcissism, exhibitionism, image manipulation and "the mere ability to attract attention is rewarded".
Tony Rebel, who welcomed all to the album launch, spoke about Queen Ifrica's development, from not being able to do a song properly in the studio and having to be told 10 times what to do, that being reduced to thrice, then twice and "now you don't have to say anything".
There was a time when she had to be asking producers to go on rhythms; now she is being requested. Long gone are the days when she was trying to get on shows; now there are so many offers she has to decline some.
"When you have someone like a Queen Ifrica standing up and not taking off her clothes I have to salute her," Rebel said.
Extensive exposure
In presenting Montego Bay, Ifrica noted the struggle that her song about incest, Daddy (which appears in English and Spanish), has been going through in terms of getting extensive exposure on the airwaves, although it has connected in the streets and at live performances.
When she was asked which track was her favourite Queen Ifrica did not name one, but said that the opening chant, TTPNC, is special, as "it is my whole Rastafarian belief ... That is who I am. I am a Niyabinghi woman".
The recordings ended with Far Away, Lady Saw, Assassin, I-Wayne, Capleton and Tarrus Riley embracing Queen Ifrica onstage. It wasn't all over, though, as there was one more a cappella song for her to deliver, the crowd whooping for Keep It To Yourself.
Source: Jamaica Gleaner


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