November 30, 2013

Duane Stephenson heads for Trinidad, Guyana

Kingston, Jamaica: - Quite upbeat from a recent Fort Lauderdale gig where he was accompanied by the very talented Black Soil band, and which also featured Tarrus Riley and Dean Frazer, reggae crooner, Duane Stephenson is looking forward to thrilling his Caribbean fans as the hectic Yuletide season begins to take shape.

The singer is booked for shows in the twin island republic of Trinidad & Tobago and also Guyana, two markets which have a solid, long-standing relationship with the man from August Town.  Duane is more than ready to take his soothing, conscious lyrics to Trinidad on November 30, where will perform at Culture Reggae Fest, scheduled for the popular Queen’s Park Savannah.

Billed as “the biggest culture concert to end the year in Trinidad and Tobago”, Culture Reggae Fest also showcases reggae heavyweights Luciano, Everton Blender and Bushman, alongside Trinidad and Tobago’s best, including Jamelody, Isasha, Prophet Benjamin and others. According to the organisers, there will be loads of positive vibes at the concert and Duane totally endorses this, noting that as Caribbean people, we need to focus on our similarities rather than our differences.

“It is always an honour to represent Jamaica overseas, but the Caribbean feels like home away from home, so going there is always special. Just the name of the show speaks volumes, and the line-up of artistes is an indication of the type of music and message that will be offered. I am already feeling the vibes and can’t wait to get on stage to truly connect with my fans in Trinidad & Tobago,” said Duane, who was Jamaica’s musical ambassador at the Caribbean Festival of Arts (Carifesta) held recently in Suriname.

He will leave Trinidad and head straight to Guyana, where the Georgetown Football Association (GFA) will be kick off the Caribbean Inter-Club Football Series from November 29 and will use the opportunity to fuse music and sports. Jamaican team, Boys Town will be among the Caribbean teams participating in the series. Duane, who is an ardent football supporter, will be a guest performer at the event  on December  1. 

November 21, 2013


Action violates Caricom treaty
BY KARYL WALKER Editor — Crime/Court Desk walkerk@jamaicaobserver.com
IN a direct breach of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, and a snub of a recent ruling by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Trinidadian immigration officers denied 13 Jamaicans entry into that country on Tuesday night detained them and sent them back home on the first flight yesterday morning.
Some of the 13 Jamaicans who were refused entry, detained and sent back home from Trinidad in direct breach of the Revised Treaty of Chagaramas. (PHOTO: JOSEPH WELLINGTON)

The Jamaicans were angry when the Jamaica Observer spoke to them immediately after they were processed by immigration officials at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston yesterday afternoon.

They said that their passports were confiscated by the Trinidadians and they were ordered to sit on a wooden bench throughout the night before they were rudely bundled on a Caribbean Airlines flight on which the majority of the Reggae Boyz football team were being flown home after their friendly match at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Among those turned away from her fellow Caribbean Community (Caricom) state was Anne Gordon, who was given the task of chaperoning an 11-year-old girl to see her father who resides in that country with his Trinidadian wife. However, both Gordon and the girl were denied entry, despite carrying Caricom passports.
"She cried all night. They just took our passports and told us we did not meet their entry requirements. If her father lives there why did they refuse the child the chance to see her father?" Gordon questioned.
The child was picture of dejection. "I don't see my father since last year," she said.
In a recent ruling in the landmark case involving Shanique Myrie against the Barbadian Government, the CCJ ruled that where a Caricom national is refused entry into a member state, that national should be given the opportunity to consult an attorney or a consular official of his or her country, or to contact a family member.
The Jamaicans said that they were not allowed to contact anybody nor were they even allowed to use their cellular phones to contact the persons who were waiting outside the Piarco Airport to receive them. They also claimed they were threatened that their phones would be seized if they attempted to use them.
"When I gave them the number of my sister-in-law, the woman (immigration officer) pretended to make a call and then told me that it was a man on the other end. While she did that I called my sister-in-law, who had invited me to visit her, and got her. I tried to give the immigration officer the phone but she said she was not talking to anyone," Onicia Robinson, one of the Jamaicans denied entry to Trinidad, said.
When the Observer contacted Robinson's sister-in-law, Gillian Leben, she confirmed that she was not contacted by any immigration official in regards to her receiving Robinson. "I was outside the airport with a taxi to pick her up until 4:00 this morning (yesterday) and my phone did not ring. No one contacted me," Leben said.
The CCJ had also ruled that member states should give, promptly and in writing, reasons for refusing entry to Caricom nationals. The receiving state is also obliged to inform the refused national of his or her right to challenge the decision.
The Jamaicans claimed that this was not done, saying that they were threatened to sign a refusal of entry form or spend the night in jail.
"I did not sign any form and I saw when the woman sign the form for me," said Cassandara Douse, who was among the 13.
For Omar Campbell the denial of entry was particularly painful. Campbell showed stamps in his passport to show that he had spent 10 months in that country and to compound matters he is married to a Trinidadian woman. He showed his marriage certificate to prove his claim. "To make matters worse, yesterday was my wife's birthday," Campbell said with a sad look on his face.
The Jamaicans also complained that they were verbally abused and told they were being turned back because of the recent murder of Trinidadian national Keron Fraser, whose body was found in a shallow grave at Duncan's Pen in Spanish Town, St Catherine, recently.
Fraser disappeared on October 18, two days after he arrived in the island from Trinidad.
Police said that, upon arriving in the island on October 16, Fraser, who was with a female companion, rented a motor vehicle and headed towards an undisclosed location in Clarendon. He was reported missing two days later.
According to the police, a few days after Fraser's disappearance, two men were detained by the police after they were intercepted in the motor car which he had rented. The vehicle had bloodstains, the police said.
In addition, the Jamaicans said they were only given two minutes to use the bathroom when they requested to do so, and security officials followed them to the bathroom.
"They sat and watched us all night and said we are prisoners. Dem don't like Jamaicans and say dem turn us back because we kill Trini in our country," said June Henry, who was visiting the twin-island republic for a three-week vacation.
The Jamaicans also complained that they were extremely uncomfortable sitting up all night after more than eight hours of travel.
"I had to sleep on a carpet, and we got some raw tasting chicken about 3:00 am," Jodian Davidson said.
For years, Jamaicans have complained that they have been subjected to sub-standard treatment at the hands of Trinidadian airport officials and have advocated a boycott of goods from that country as retaliation for the xenophobic behaviour of the Eastern Caribbean nationals.
Jamaica is a major market for Trinidadian goods and a number of Trinidadians have worked and lived in the country without hassle and in accordance with free movement within Caricom.
A passenger who travelled on the same flight with the denied Jamaicans told the Observer that an airline official informed him that last week 26 Jamaicans were turned back from Trinidad.
There was, however, no confirmation.
A security guard at the Norman Manley International Airport said that he had overheard a number of Jamaicans returning from Trinidad complaining of bad treatment at the hands of Trinidadian officials.
Yesterday, Jamaica's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade raised concerns about the number of Jamaicans who have been denied entry to the twin islands in recent times.
"The ministry is concerned at this development and continues to interface with the relevant authorities in Trinidad and Tobago on the matter, including in the light of the Shanique Myrie ruling by the Caribbean Court of Justice," it said in a release.
Airline tickets to Trinidad and Tobago cost between US$520 and US$750 depending on when the ticket is purchased.

Source: Jamaica Observer

November 18, 2013

Duane to release Dangerously Roots

Kingston Jamaica - After much soul searching, reggae crooner, Duane Stephenson has finally decided on a title for his third studio album, set to be released early 2014. He disclosed that the name of the CD is ‘Dangerously Roots’.

“We wanted a name that depicts exactly what the message of this album is all about, while at the same time reflecting the edginess of the package,” Duane explained. He noted that Dangerously Roots might seem like a contradiction of terms, but in fact it is an affirmation of the importance of delving into and appreciating one’s roots.

Spearheaded by Kongstar Production, the project has been in the making for over a year, during which time Duane called up on the expertise of producers such as Donovan Germain of Penthouse Productions,  Dean Fraser, Christopher Birch and Winter James in getting the right songs to set the mood and tone for the album.

The artiste and his management team are currently in discussions with two overseas-based companies regarding distribution of the product. One of the companies is based in the US and has extensive reach in marketing reggae.

Two singles from Dangerously Roots have already been released – Rasta For I and Think Twice– and according to the singer, the response has been great, not just in Jamaica, but also the Caribbean and North America. However, in order to ensure that the album retains its full appeal, no more tracks will be released prior to the official release date of the product.

When asked if there is a song on the album which he thinks could be as big as his monster hit, August Town, he stated, “I’m optimistic that a lot of the songs will carry over to be as big as August Town.  Some of the tracks you might not connect with at the first listen, but my music is the type that grows on you and pulls you in the more you listen.

“Hit songs are not guaranteed, but we are always hopeful and ensure that we put in the best work we can,” Duane said.

November 05, 2013


Davina Henry, Staff Reporter

KINGSTON JAMAICA - Reggae artiste I-Octane has been having a successful 2013. The artiste appeared on numerous local shows, toured several countries and was even invited to close Reggae Sumfest's dancehall night.
With 2014 fast approaching, I-Octane told The Sunday Gleaner his main focus right now is the release of his sophomore album.
Still untitled, the album will be strictly reggae one-drop, and I-Octane has already enlisted the help of several top international reggae artistes to help make the album a success.
"We're currently in the process of searching for a title but, trust me, this album is going to be the best of I-Octane. Mi voice whole heap a songs already, and I'm really excited to be putting out a straight reggae one-drop album that all my fans and all music lovers, generally, will be able to enjoy," he said.
The album is slated for a January 2014 release and, already, there are plans to host launches in several countries, along with a tour.
"I'm gonna do a tour around the album, so that every country I visit after its release, there will be a launch party there. I will be releasing it worldwide, so that's definitely something that the fans can look out for and look forward to."
With his debut album being released last year, I-Octane says this time around he will have greater input on the production side of things.
"For quite a few years, I was only releasing singles, so last year I did an album called Cry to the Nation, and while the album did well, and I must big up and commend Robert Livingstone for that, I never really got to capitalise on it. It was a great album, but I never had full control over it. For this album, I will have more input in production. I have to big up Frass and Tads records," he told The Sunday Gleaner.
Capitalising on his successful year and his many supporters, I-Octane has already released the album's lead single, titled Love You Like I Do. An accompanying video was also recently released.
The 12-track album will feature artistes Gentleman and Ky-Mani Marley. In the meantime, I-Octane is gearing up for performances in the United States, Canada, Africa and the Caribbean.


November 01, 2013


KINGSTON, JAMAICA: Widely regarded as a Rastafarian reggae artiste whose ‘livity’ is totally in sync with his faith, Duane Stephenson has outlined his potent beliefs in a tribute song to the Most High, simply entitled “Rasta For I”.
A Penthouse production, it’s the lead single from the entertainer’s soon-to-be-released third album and already there is a burgeoning market ready to embrace the message, the music and the mission. Brimming with heartfelt lyrics and the type of consciousness for which Duane is known and respected, “Rasta For I” is an acknowledgement of the magnificence of the Creator, entwined with a passionate plea for mankind to “…start think ‘bout God again/And stop fight down we brother dem.”
With the single gaining so much traction in the short time since its release, the artiste and his team thought it best to move quickly with shooting the accompanying music video.
“We were very happy at the overwhelming response to “Rasta For I”. It is one of those songs that people seem to gravitate to after just one listen and we are thankful for all the love,” an elated Duane Stephenson said.
He noted that it was a pleasure working with video producer, Dameon Gayle on the project, which skillfully captures the mood of the song and offers an interesting interpretation on the first official single from Duane’s upcoming and still unnamed album.
Set for a January 2014 release, the album is in the final stages of completion and could have been ready for the promised end-of-year release, however, it was decided that it would be more prudent to hold off until the New Year.
With regard to the name, Duane confessed that although there is a theme and a working title, so far the right name has eluded them.

“But that will come,” Duane said. “I have been working with some great producers and I assure you that it will definitely be worth the wait.”