Movers & Shakers (March/April 2005)

Jah Melody aims for Mount Zion; Rochelle Watson breaks into Vogue; Robert "Zi" Taylor plays it as he likes it; Yvonne Weekes tells a volcano story; Dwayne Bravo bats with the world's best; Asha Kamachee makes Vishonary Sounz

Asha Kamachee. Photograph courtesy Asha KamacheeDwayne Bravo of the West Indies Cricket Team. Photograph courtesy Digicel/ Getty ImagesJah Melody. Photograph by Jeffrey ChockRobeirt “Zi” Taylor. Photograph courtesy Robert Zionsax.comRochelle Watson. Photograph courtesy Pulse InvestmentsYvonne Weekes. Photograph by Sandy Pitt/ Nation News

Melodies for Zion

Michael “Jah Melody” Williams started singing in the church choir, and now sings his praises backed by reggae rhythms. Born in Carenage, north-west Trinidad, 23-year-old Jah Melody has merged gospel and R&B influences with the reggae music he loves, achieving a unique sound. His track Be Prepared is getting regular spins in Trinidad, Jamaica, and across Europe, and he’s currently at work on his debut album, under the creative direction of legendary Jamaican producer Bobby Digital. “My aim is to influence youths to do the right thing,” he says. “My goal is to reach Mount Zion.”

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Pulse-pounding beauty

Rochelle Watson from St Thomas, Jamaica, is Pulse Model Agency’s latest hot property, and the most recent Caribbean model to appear in Vogue. The rising star has already wooed the press corps at London Fashion Week, where she appeared for, among others, Jasper Conran, Ronit Kilkha, and Hachette Filipacchi, before playing a lead role in modelling fellow Jamaican Jessica Ogden’s collection, strutting out in the first look for the show. Of her compatriot, Ogden said, “Rochelle has great promise and was wonderful to work with.” Need we add — she’s gorgeous?

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Fusion rising

From rural England to verdant St Lucia, from his first lessons at the St Lucia School of Music to the recording studios of Miami, Robert “Zi” Taylor, saxophonist and music producer — who has toured with Maxi Priest and Ky-mani Marley, among others — absorbs musical styles wherever he goes. Rise Up, his eclectic 12-track debut album, skirting reggae, hip hop, jazz, funk, and creole fusion, is a tribute to openness, ignoring barriers between musical genres and echoing his musical philosophy: “It’s not just what you play, but how you play it.”

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Eruption of talent

With a wonderfully honest account of her life in Montserrat, titled “Volcano”, Yvonne Weekes — drama teacher, performing artist, and writer — won the first prize at the seventh Frank Collymore Literary Endowment Awards in Barbados in January. With the encouragement of Kamau Brathwaite, Weekes, a teacher of theatre arts at the Barbados Community College, entered the novel she started in 1997 on arrival to Barbados. With victory came both surprise and modesty — Weekes told reporters she was taken aback — “I still have so much to learn as a writer.” 

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Batting bravura

In January, the International Cricket Council arranged a fund-raising match between an Asian XI and a world XI to help victims of the recent tsunami disaster. Dwayne Bravo, the 21-year-old all-rounder from Trinidad, was one of three West Indians chosen for this important occasion. He was the youngest and, with only four Tests and 19 ODIs to his name, least experienced player selected. However, considering his impressive batting technique, and troublesome medium-paced swingers, most Caribbean observers weren’t surprised to see Bravo invited to join the world’s best.

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Visionary music

“Music is like colour to the blind,” says popular Trinidadian chutney singer Asha Kamachee. Born without sight, Kamachee worked at Trinidad and Tobago’s Blind Welfare Association for several years, before finding a desire to express herself through music. The band Vishonary Sounz was born, with Kamachee handling lead vocals and musical arrangements by Kenneth Suratt. In 2005 she’s wowing chutney fans with her song Dhantal Man, a clever double entendre about a woman fancying a musician.

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