Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Agnes Macdonald - First Lady of Canada

Agnes Macdonald, Baroness Macdonald of Earnscliffe

Susan Agnes Macdonald née Bernard (August 24, 1836 – September 5, 1920) was the second wife of Sir John A. Macdonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada. She was granted the title Baroness Macdonald of Earnscliffe following her husband's death in 1891.

She was born in Jamaica to The Honourable T.J. Bernard and his wife, Theodora Foulks. She was raised there and in England before she came to Canada with her mother to live with her brother, Hewitt, a lawyer. It was through him that she met Sir John A. Macdonald for the first time in 1856. It was in 1866, in London, England, where Miss Macdonald had been with her mother that she saw her husband to be who was there to prepare the British North America Act. They married on February 16, 1867 and had one daughter, Margaret Mary Theodora Macdonald, who was severely handicapped both mentally and physiclly (1869-1933).

By 1896 she left her home at Earnscliffe to go back to England. Allthrough her life she was known as Agnes, she died in England and was buried in the Ocklynge Cemetery in Eastbourne, a city just south of London.


She was known as a lady of charming personality, with a courageous and happy disposition. She had the faculty of making and holding friendships, and was a true helpmeet to her husband.

During her stay in Canada with her husband, she became intimately acquainted with many of the intricacies of the political and historical events of the country and displayed her love of it in the sentiments expressed in many magazine and Press articles.

In England, despite the weight of years, her participation in social and philanthropic work was active.

See You in Jamaica

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Sly & Robbie - Legendary Reggae Duo

No matter how advanced drum machine technology gets, reggae at its most genuine will always be characterized by at least one core element: a real live flesh-and-blood drums and bass team. Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare have been called the greatest such team in reggae, while their skills have carried them well beyond the reggae realm. It seems forever that they've been identified as a duo, but they'd both honed their respective chops prior to their first mid-'70s teaming. Dunbar had expanded the parameters of reggae drumming in sessions at Channel One studio. Shakespeare's resume included work with Jack Ruby's Black Disciples. After hearing and quickly coming to appreciate each other's playing, they cemented a partnership that's been 30 years long and is still strong.

Sly and Robbie's near-perfect steadiness is embellished by their own characteristic touches, including Shakespeare's subtly penetrating tones at key rhythmic moments and Dunbar's on-and-off-the-beat accents. Whatever the secret, their playing has graced the music of more reggae stars than you can shake a spliff at. Besides extended stints as the studio and touring rhythm section for Peter Tosh and Black Uhuru, Sly and Robbie have laid it down for Bunny Wailer, Gregory Isaacs, Sugar Minott, Dennis Brown, John Holt, Culture, the Mighty Diamonds, Horace Andy, Judy Mowatt, Yellowman and countless others.

Additionally, the volume of work they took on and the rewards reaped from it enabled them to start their own label, Taxi Productions, which came to be seen as a kind of Jamaican equivalent of Motown. With Taxi, Sly and Robbie were able to boost the profiles of such promising hit-makers as the Tamlins, Jimmy Riley and Ini Kamoze.

As much as they did for reggae, it didn't take long for the rest of the music world to take notice of the "Riddim Twins'" expertise. Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Herbie Hancock, Joe Cocker, Grace Jones, Carly Simon and others have enlisted the pair's services. And they've put out releases under their own name where the reggae beat was nowhere to be found, including the funk/hip-hop-leaning albums Language Barrier and Rhythm Killers. When dancehall replaced roots reggae as Jamaica's dominant sound, Sly and Robbie were on the cutting edge of that genre's programmed grooves, producing monster hits like Chaka Demus and Pliers' "Murder She Wrote." Keeping one foot in reggae and the other ever-willing to explore, Sly and Robbie continue to rule the drums and bass roost.

See You in Jamaica

Mighty Diamonds - Reggae Band

The reggae road is littered with the bodies of fallen vocal groups that contributed a couple of tunes or an album of note and then disappeared into the history books. But the Mighty Diamonds have persevered, the original trio lineup still intact, having logged some 40-plus albums during a career well into its fourth decade. Their close, soulful harmony sound, offered via both sweet, passionate love songs and conscious political and spiritual material, provided a template that countless others have followed.

Donald "Tabby" Shaw, Fitzroy "Bunny" Simpson and Lloyd " Judge" Ferguson first came together in 1969 in Kingston's Trenchtown ghetto. Inspired by America's Motown sound, they recorded a number of unsuccessful singles for various producers before racking up their first local hit with "Shame And Pride" for Jah Lloyd. It wasn't until they discovered the emerging Channel One studio in 1975, however, that the Mighty Diamonds became a genre-shaping force in reggae. With Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare's Revolutionaries behind them, the Mighty Diamonds established their presence with early R&B-flavored romantic hits such as "Hey Girl" and "Country Living," as well as the more lyrically aggressive "Back Weh A Mafia" and "Right Time."

That latter track also provided the title of their first release for Virgin, recognized as one of the all-time classic reggae vocal albums. The best songs on 1976's Right Time, among them "I Need A Roof," "Them Never Love Poor Marcus," "Africa" and the aforementioned "Right Time," placed the Mighty Diamonds in the pantheon of reggae's most outspoken roots artists, their often militant words belied by their refined, charming vocal harmonies.

Right Time made international stars out of the Mighty Diamonds, and they recorded their next album, Ice On Fire, in New Orleans, using the legendary R&B producer Allen Toussaint. They returned to Channel One for their next few albums, Stand Up For Your Judgement, Planet Earth and Deeper Roots. By the early '80s, the group was gone from Virgin and began releasing music on their own Bad Gong label and for other sundry companies. A 1981 single, "Pass The Kouchie," was covered by the British group Musical Youth, who took the ganja references out, retitled it "Pass The Dutchie" and took it to the Top 10 in America.

The Mighty Diamonds have continued to record and tour in the decades since their initial splash (although many of their classic albums are out of print, replaced by poor-sounding, ill-conceived compilations), and while they are no longer considered a front-line group, their past impact is undeniable.

See You in Jamaica

Culture - Reggae Band

In terms of his commitments to a strictly-roots outlook, an unwavering belief in Africa as a true homeland and upholding the iconic status of Marcus Garvey, Culture's Joseph Hill ranks with Winston Rodney (Burning Spear) as one of foundational reggae's mightiest spokesmen.

Though he's among reggae's most recognizable voices, Hill began as a percussionist in the Soul Defenders, one of the in-house bands at Clement Dodd's famed Studio One. It was also there that he took his first steps as a vocalist, singing lead on "Take Me Girl" (under the name the Neptunes) and the repatriation anthem "Behold The Land."

Hill's cousin Albert Walker proposed the idea of forming a full-fledged vocal trio, and with Kenneth Dayes and Walker harmonizing behind Hill's eloquently urgent leads, Culture (briefly known as the African Disciples) was born. Their initial tracks were laid at the studio of Joe Gibbs, who produced their early singles and their landmark 1977 debut LP Two Sevens Clash. That album, with its militant/spiritual air and rock solid consciousness, ranks alongside works from the same era by Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Israel Vibration and the Mighty Diamonds as a defining moment in the Rasta/reggae connection. After two more albums with Gibbs, the group moved on to Sonia Pottinger's High Note label, cutting such enduringly crucial discs as Harder Than The Rest and Cumbolo.

The trio went its separate ways in the early '80s, with Hill releasing Lion Rock under the Culture name. They were back together in full force by 1986, and subsequent albums like Culture at Work, 'Nuff Crisis and Wings Of A Dove brimmed with the same strengths as the early years: percolating riddims, heartfelt songs (penned mostly by Hill) and robust harmonies. Dayes left in 1993 and was eventually replaced by Telford Nelson. That one personnel change aside, Culture has remained a constant in reggae. Their albums have been released and/or re-released by various labels (Shanachie, RAS, Heartbeat, etc.), but any Culture disc is sure to be loaded with unwavering Jamaican roots vibes. A couple of recent in-concert offerings (Cultural Livity and Live In Africa) showcase the group's onstage muscle, and their latest studio album, 2003's timely World Peace, has them sounding as blazingly righteous as ever.

See You in Jamaica

Sister Carol - Reggae Artiste

Known as the "Black Cinderella" and "Mother Culture," Sister Carol has led the way for women in reggae. Her music is rich with cultural heritage and infused with a vital social consciousness that permeates every aspect of life in the '90s. Many were introduced to Sister Carol through Jonathan Demme's films Something Wild and Married to the Mob, but her greatest strength is her music — music that carries a social message for people all over the world. There are no books in this musical classroom; learning comes through listening to the teacher. Who knew that the dancehall scene of NYC in the '70s would lead Sister Carol to a path of movies, albums, television appearances and a Grammy nomination for her highly regarded release Lyrically Potent.

See You in Jamaica

Linton Kwesi Johnson - Reggae Artiste

One of the great artists to emerge from the British reggae explosion of the late '70s was Linton Kwesi Johnson, who combined dialect-heavy spoken word with a heavy roots reggae backing band to pioneer a style called "dub poetry." Johnson differed from other members of the dub poetry movement, such as Oku Onuora and Mutabaruka, in that his laser-sharp diatribes are usually focused on his adopted country of England, and that he eschews Rastafarianism.

Born in 1952 in the rural Jamaican village of Chapelton, Johnson learned to read from his grandmother's bible. At the age of 11, he followed his mother to Brixton in London, where he learned about racism first-hand from white Britons' backlash against the increasing number of West Indian immigrants.

Johnson joined the Black Panther party while still in school and was also influenced by the revolutionary recordings of the Last Poets. Johnson's early albums from the late '70s and early '80s—Dread, Beat an' Blood, Forces Of Victory and especially 1980's Bass Culture—each furthered his reputation as a major voice in reggae. But Johnson began withdrawing from the touring circuit by the early '80s, appearing only occasionally at poetry readings and festivals, and he stopped recording for a few years as well. Making History (1984) was a strong return, but LKJ then disappeared again until the early '90s, when he re-emerged for the occasional tour. He has recorded sporadically since then, with 1999's More Time and 2005's Live in Paris.

Back when Johnson first started publishing and performing his poems in the 1970s, he was denounced for corrupting the youth and undermining the "purity" of the English language with his patois grammar and spelling. But now he's earning honorary degrees and gaining widespread respect. In a recent poll to determine the top 100 Black Britons of all time, he was ranked #22, and with the publication of Mi Revalueshanary Fren, he's become only the second living poet ever to be included in Penguin Books' Modern Classics series.

See You in Jamaica

The Abyssinians - Reggae Band

The Abyssinians were one of the key groups to emerge from the roots reggae era of the late '60s and early '70s, a classic vocal trio that combined close harmony singing, minor key "dread" melodies, and deeply spiritual Rastafarian themes into a series of iconic hits.

The Abyssinians consisted of longtime friends Bernard Collins and Donald Manning, with Manning's brother Lynford in tow. When the group first formed, in 1968, in Kingston, Lynford was already in the music business, singing with the eldest Manning brother Carlton's group, Carlton and the Shoes. In fact it was a song that recorded by this group—an early reggae b-side called "Happy Land"—that provided inspiration for what would become the Abyssinians greatest hit, and one of the most famous songs in the entire reggae cannon.

That song was "Satta Massagana"—a revolutionary step forward in the development of reggae. Penned by Collins and Donald Manning, and sung in dubious Amharic (the title was thought to mean "Give Thanks" in the language), the song extolled Ethiopia as the Rastafarian promised land, explicitly forging a link between reggae and Rastafari at a time when no respectable Jamaican producer wanted anything to do with the movement. But what really made the song a classic was the tension between the soaring, church-ified vocal harmonies, and the spooky, minor key "dread" sound that lent the song an air of orientalist mystery.

Though the song was first recorded in 1969, for legendary producer Clement "Coxsonne" Dodd, it wasn't released until 1971. Dodd, who had also recorded the original "Happy Land," felt that the public wasn't ready for such outspoken Rasta material. He was proved wrong after the Abyssinians bought back their track (at no great expense) and released it on their own Clinch label. It was an immediate hit, and Dodd soon scrambled to release his own version on his Studio One label—sparking a flurry of deejay versions that soon turned the Rasta anthem into a genuine folk rhythm.

The Abyssinians released three more hit singles in 1971 ("Declaration of Rights," "Jerusalem," and "Let My Days Be Long") and more as the decade wore on (including classics "Leggo Beast" and "Ya Mas Gan"). But it wasn't until 1976 that the group cut it's first full-length LP, Forward Onto Zion, which combined this earlier material with newer songs to create one of the most enduring masterpieces of the roots reggae era.

Forward Unto Zion won the Abyssinians an international audience, and they followed it up with 1978's Arise, recorded for Bob Marley's newly launched Tuff Gong label.
The album yielded the hit single "Hey You," but was an overall disappointment, and Collins quit the group soon after its release. He was replaced by Carlton Manning, come full circle and turning the Abyssinians into a family unit. The new trio made one final, notable appearance at the Reggae Sunsplash festival in 1979, before taking a final bow that same year. But the posthumous Forward album was released in 1980. Full of previously unreleased gems and domestic-release only singles, Forward was a final revelation from one of the greatest roots reggae acts of all time.

Later in the '80s, both Collins and the Mannings brothers laid claim to the Abyssinians name and both tried to relaunch the franchise—with varying degrees of success. But neither incarnation could match the storied Abyssinians of old.

See You in Jamaica

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Rare Artifacts From Port Royal Go On Display at US Museum

MORE than 200 rare artifacts from the historic city of Port Royal went on display last week at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida in downtown Miami.

This is the first time that the artifacts, which were recovered from the city, much of which sank in a devastating earthquake in 1692, are being displayed in the United States.

The exhibition, titled 'Port Royal, Jamaica' and jointly coordinated by the Institute of Jamaica and the Historical Museum, will run through to June. The display will then be moved to the Institute's location in Kingston for public viewing up to January 2008.

Minister of Tourism, Entertainment and Culture Aloun Ndombet Assamba, in declaring the exhibition open, said the display should pique the interest of archaeologists, history students and even laypersons, who had an interest in the civilisations of the past.

The exhibit should also be of interest to tourist, she said, noting that research had indicated that while many visitors were attracted to the physical and natural beauty of the island, including its pristine beaches and majestic mountains, many others wanted to be immersed in the culture and way of life of the people.

The minister encouraged the Jamaicans present to "add their own significant colour, texture and context to the exhibition by being invaluable interpreters of the passive language of print and still lift in the brilliant oral tradition of our great little country".

Meanwhile, chief curator of the museum, Dr Steven Stuempfle, said that the facility was committed to partnering with institutions such as Institute of Jamaica, to explore how events in the Caribbean have shaped world history during the past several centuries.

As part of the four-month exhibit, the museum will host a series of family-oriented educational lectures and entertainment programmes, which will provide information about the island's heritage and cultural traditions.

A cosmopolitan port and centre for the African slave trade during the 17th century, Port Royal was known as the "richest and wickedest city in the world" for its gaudy displays of wealth and loose morals. It also served as a major base for the British Royal Navy during the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, the sleepy seaside town is a world historical site and a major attraction for visitors and locals.

The artifacts on display, many of which were recovered through underwater archaeological expeditions carried out since the 1950s chronologically illustrate the life of the city since it was founded in 1655.

Included are Chinese porcelain, German stoneware an Spanish silver coins, and red clay pipes associated with African craftsmen in the city. The era of the Royal Navy is portrayed through items such as pharmaceutical vials from the naval hospital, the Spencer Browning & Rust telescope, as well as a bust of Horatio Nelson, one of several British naval heroes, who served in Port Royal during the 18th century.

Also among the collection are rare maps, prints, books manuscripts and a ship model, while a series of black and white photographs depicting community life line the wall of the museum. Jamaican photographer, Maria LaYacona, took the pictures during the 1980s.

Story from The Jamaica Observer (

See You in Jamaica

Stacey McKenzie - Jamaican Super Model

Stacey McKenzie (born in Kingston, Jamaica) is a Canadian fashion model, runway coach and most recently a judge on the new Canadian reality television show Canada's Next Top Model.

Modeling Career

McKenzie began to pursue a career in modeling when she was in high school. She was apparently dubbed "too distinctive" for the Canadian market. McKenzie proceeded to journey to America where, in New York, she was picked up by a modeling agency. McKenzie moved to Paris, working with such prominent designers as Jean-Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler.

McKenzie is well travelled, having modeled in Paris, London, Italy, Austria, the United States, and Japan. She has modeled for a variety of designers, including Alexander McQueen, Betsey Johnson, Tommy Hilfiger, Todd Oldham to name a few. She has appeared on the covers of Essence, Le Monde and Panache, graced editorial pages for Vogue (including the American, Japanese, Korean, British, and Spanish versions), and Harper's Bazaar magazines. McKenzie has been featured in some of fashions major advertising campaign including Calvin Klein, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Mexx, Reebok, Todd Oldham Jeans, Nordstrom, Barneys New York, Banana Republic, and Benetton.

Recent ventures

Stacey, according to her biography on the official CNTM website, still continues to model and act. McKenzie also "teaches" runway, which consequently led to the development of her own company Stacey McKenzie's Walk This Way.

McKenzie currently acts as a judge for the reality television show Canada's Next Top Model, along with host Tricia Helfer, Jeanne Beker and Paul Venoit. In the first elimination round, McKenzie was described by fellow judge Helfer as "a model who brought her own brand of beauty to the runways of Europe". According to an interview McKenzie gave with, she believes a "great" model must have "the beauty", "the bod", "personality", and a "bit of uniqueness". Recently, she was seen as a guest on America's Next Top Model (season 7).

See You in Jamaica

Monday, February 19, 2007

Israel Vibration - Reggae Band

Israel Vibration is a reggae band, featuring a vocal harmony trio. Lascelle "Wiss" Bulgin, Albert "Apple Gabriel" Craig, and Cecil "Skeleton" Spence all overcame adversity in the form of childhood polio and went on to be one of the most successful roots groups to form in Jamaica in the 1970s. The trio initially met at a rehabilitation center.

After going their separate ways, and each converting to the Rastafari movement, they reunited in Kingston and formed a vocal group. Funding for their first album came in the form of a grant from the Twelve Tribes of Israel sect of Rastafari.

See You in Jamaica

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sheryl Lee Ralph - Singer and Actor

Sheryl Lee Ralph (born on December 30, 1956 in Mandeville, Manchester Jamaica). is A Jamaican American actress and singer. Best known for her work in Broadway productions such as Dreamgirls (in which she was nominated for a Tony Award) and Thoroughly Modern Millie. In television, she had co-starring roles in the 1980s sitcoms It's A Living as waitress, Ginger St. James, and Designing Women as Etienne Toussant Bouvier, wife of the design firm's male partner, Anthony. In the 90's, she appeared as Brandy's stepmother on the successful UPN sitcom, Moesha. In July 2005, Ralph wed Pennsylvania state senator Vincent Hughes. She is an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

It was rumored that Ralph was a front-runner to replace Star Jones on The View. Ralph grew up in Uniondale, Long Island . She is a graduate of Rutgers College, Class of 1975.

See You in Jamaica

Grace Jones - Model, Singer, and Actress

Grace Jones (born Grace Mendoza on May 19, 1948, in Spanish Town, Jamaica) is a model, singer and actress.

Early Life

The daughter of a preacher, her parents took Grace and her twin brother, Bishop Noel Jones, to relocate to Syracuse, New York. Before becoming a successful model in New York and Paris, Grace studied theatre at Syracuse University.

Musical Career

Jones secured a record deal with Island Records in 1977, which resulted in a string of dance club hits and a large gay following. The three disco albums she recorded — Portfolio (1977), Fame (1978), and Muse (1979) — generated considerable success in that market. During this period, she also became a muse to Andy Warhol, who photographed her extensively. Jones also accompanied him to famed nightclub Studio 54 on many occasions.

Towards the end of the 1970s, Jones adapted the emerging New Wave music to suit a different style, a significant departure from her previous output that resulted in some of her most successful work. Still with Island, and now working with producers Alex Sadkin and Chris Blackwell, she released the acclaimed albums Warm Leatherette (1980) and Nightclubbing (1981). These included re-imaginings of songs by Sting, Iggy Pop, The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Flash and the Pan, The Normal, Ástor Piazzolla and Tom Petty, as well as originals like the Billboard Top 20 single "Pull Up to the Bumper".

Parallel to her musical shift was an equally dramatic visual makeover, created in partnership with stylist Jean-Paul Goude, whom she eventually married and by whom she had a son. Jones adopted a severe, androgynous look with square-cut hair and angular, padded clothes. The iconic cover photographs of Nightclubbing and, subsequently, Slave to the Rhythm (1985) exemplified this new identity. To this day, Jones is known for her unique look at least as much as she is for her music. Her collaboration with Sadkin and Blackwell continued with the dub reggae-influenced album Living My Life.

In the mid 1980s, she worked with Trevor Horn for the conceptual musical collage Slave to the Rhythm and with Nile Rodgers for Inside Story (1986) - her first album after leaving the Island label. The well-received Slave to the Rhythm consisted of several re-workings of the title track (the single of which hit #12 in the UK) while Inside Story produced her last US Hot 100 hit to date, "I'm Not Perfect (But I'm Perfect For You)," one of several songs she co-wrote with Bruce Woolley.[1] Bulletproof Heart (1989) spawned the #1 US club hit "Love on Top of Love - Killer Kiss," produced by C+C Music Factory's David Cole and Robert Clivilles. Although she never became a truly mainstream recording artist in the US, much of her musical output was popular on the Billboard Dance/Club Play Chart and many of her songs are regarded as classics to this day. Jones was able to find mainstream success in the UK, however, scoring a number of Top 40 entries on the UK Singles Chart. To date, she has released 42 singles (commercial and/or promotional), including several non-album tracks.

Grace Jones' masculine attire, height (5' 10½" (1.79 m)) and manner was a clear influence on the 'power dressing' movement of the 1980s, and on musical artists such as Annie Lennox of Eurythmics. She would also exemplify the "box" haircut style in the 1970s, which would be worn by many black men all over America throughout much of the next decade, notably Larry Blackmon of the funk group Cameo. She maintained parallel recording and acting careers, her film roles and modelling work often overshadowed her musical output. Her strong visual presence extended to her stage work. In her performances she adopted various personas and wore outlandish costumes, particularly during her years with Goude. One such performance was at the Paradise Garage in 1985, wherein she collaborated with visual artist Keith Haring for her costume. Haring painted her body in tribal patterns and fitted her with wire armor.[2] The muralist also painted her body for the video to "I'm Not Perfect (But I'm Perfect for You)."


Grace Jones continues to perform. In November 2004, she sang her hit "Slave to the Rhythm" at a tribute concert for Trevor Horn at Wembley Arena. She received rave reviews, despite being absent in the music scene for some time.[citation needed] In February 2006, Jones was the celebrity runway model for Diesel's show in New York.

On October 20, 2006, the 3-CD box set Ultimate Collection was released in Europe by the CCM label, in a limited edition.

On November 3, 2006, Jones took part in a gathering of people sharing the surname, performing "Slave to the Rhythm" and "Pull up to the Bumper" to a large crowd of Joneses. 1,224 people were gathered that day at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, breaking the previous record for the largest surname-based gathering.[3]

Ivor Guest has confirmed that Grace has completed recording her new album. link Due out in 2007.

Nick Hooker has confirmed that he's directed the first video off of Grace's upcoming new album. link

One song has been confirmed and it's called Devil in My Life, and the string arrangements were written by Philip Sheppard and Ant Genn. link

The new album feautures: Sly and Robbie, Brian Eno, Wally Badarou, Tricky, Uzziah 'Sticky' Thompson, Mikey 'Mao' Chung, Barry Reynolds, Martin Slattery, Philip Sheppard, Paulo Goude, Don-E and Tony Allen and is produced by Ivor Guest and Ant Genn. (Recording engineering duties by Cameron 'Engine' Craig).

Film Career

Grace Jones as May Day in A View to a Kill

Jones' work as an actress in mainstream film first began with the role of Zula, the amazon in the 1984 film Conan the Destroyer alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain. Prior to this she appeared in low-budget films, often with sexually explicit content. She next landed the role of May Day, in the 1985 James Bond movie A View to a Kill.

She appeared in a number of other motion pictures including the 1986 vampire film, Vamp (wherein she used her Keith Haring body paint as part of her role as a vampiric exotic dancer) as well as the Eddie Murphy film Boomerang - for which she recorded the title song - in 1992. In 2001, she appeared alongside Tim Curry in Wolf Girl (aka Blood Moon), as a transvestite circus freakshow performer named Christoph/Christine. She also appeared in an episode of the Beastmaster television series as the Impatra Warrior.

Her Voice

Grace Jones is a contralto vocalist. She had a significant voice part in Arcadia's 1985 song and video, "Election Day", from the album, So Red the Rose.


In 1981, Grace Jones slapped chat show host Russell Harty across the face live on air after he turned to interview other guests. This topped a 2006 BBC poll of the most shocking TV chat show moments.

She was featured in the September 1987 issue of Playboy magazine with Dolph Lundgren.

In September 1998, Jones was banned from all Disney properties worldwide after baring her breasts in a concert at Walt Disney World.

In April 2005, Jones was accused of verbally abusing a Eurostar train manager in a quarrel over a ticket upgrade and was either escorted off the train or left on her own accord, later saying she was mistreated.

Personal Life

Jones dated Dolph Lundgren in the 1980s. In February 1996, Jones was married to a bodyguard named Atila Altaunbay. She has a son named Apollo from her previous relationship with Jean-Paul Goude. As of 18 August 2006, she was engaged to Ivor Guest, the 4th Viscount Wimborne.

See You in Jamaica

Jamaicans Are a Colorless People

Don't waste your time asking a Jamaican his/her color/race. We are colorless. We live in racial harmony in Jamaica. Our Motto is 'Out of Many, One People'. We are also very World-minded. Yes, we live in the world, not just in Jamaica. And we travel the entire world fearlessly, because we know that humankind do not own anything or anywhere in this world. That explains why Jamaicans are everywhere in this world.

Our colorlessness inspired Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King in the first person:

'And so for those days we traveled all over Jamaica. And over and over again I was impressed by one thing. Here you have people from many national backgrounds: Chinese, Indians, so-called Negroes, and you can just go down the line, Europeans, European and people from many, many nations. Do you know they all live there and they have a motto in Jamaica, "Out of many people, one people." And they say, "Here in Jamaica we are not Chinese, (Make it plain) we are not Japanese, we are not Indians, we are not Negroes, we are not Englishmen, we are not Canadians. But we are all one big family of Jamaicans." One day, here in America, I hope that we will see this and we will become one big family of Americans. Not white Americans, not black Americans, not Jewish or Gentile Americans, not Irish or Italian Americans, not Mexican Americans, not Puerto Rican Americans, but just Americans. One big family of Americans.'

Racial harmony sounds impossible? Visit Jamaica and see for yourself.

See you in Jamaica

Monday, February 12, 2007

Dr. Albert E. Forsyth - Aviator and Physician

Albert E. Forsyth, who was born in Nassau, Bahamas, in 1897, was brought to Port Antonio in Jamaica in his early childhood. His father, Horatio A. Forsyth, was Bahamian, but his mother Lillian Maud (nee Byndloss) was Jamaican. Forsyth, who worked for the United Fruit Company, later became well known throughout Jamaica as a civil engineer, architect and builder and was considered one of the ‘parish fathers’ of Portland. Young Albert thus received his early education in Port Antonio attending elementary and secondary school there during the time when Major W. H. Plant was headmaster of the Titchfield School. Major Plant later said he had the greatest pleasure in training Albert and helping to shape him for his life’s work.

The young Forsyth left the island in 1911 to continue his education first at the Tuskegee Institute and later at the Universities of Illinois and Toledo in the United States, where he graduated with the degree of Batchelor of Science. A year later he began the study of medicine at McGill University in Canada, graduating in 1930 with the degrees of Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Surgery.

Dr. Forsyth started his medical practice in Atlantic City where he met C. Alfred “Chief” Anderson in 1932, soon after Anderson had received his Commercial and Air-transport Pilot License, the first Black American to do so. The two became close friends, and Forsythe soon received his Private Pilot License. In July 1933, Anderson and Forsyth completed a flight from Atlantic City to Los Angeles and back. Their Fairchild 24, ’The Pride of Atlantic City’, had no parachutes, landing lights, radio, or "blind" flying instruments, and much of their navigation was accomplished using a road map. This was the first such trans-continental flight by Black aviators.

In 1934 the two pilots planned a ‘Goodwill Tour’ of the Caribbean and South America, the first Black pilots to undertake such a flight. After extensive planning and with financial and moral support from Black Americans, the two set off from Atlantic City in the plane they had named ‘Booker T. Washington’ in the early morning of November 8. After touching down twice in the USA, they reach Nassau, their first Caribbean destination, in the late afternoon of November 9. They received an enthusiastic reception, then flew on to Cuba, and then to Jamaica, where again there was a great reception. The rest of the tour took them to Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and down through the Lesser Antilles, to Grenada. In spite of some problems their tour had gone well, but when they flew into Trinidad, their luck ran out; after another enthusiastic welcome, they prepared to fly on to British Guiana, but immediately after take-off the ‘Booker T. Washington’ crashed in someone’s backyard. They flew on to Georgetown in a Pan-Am flying boat to fulfill their commitments there, but the tour was over and they returned to the USA by sea at the end of December. They had visited 10 of the 25 countries they had hoped to visit, covering a quarter of the distance they had hoped to fly. In spite of its premature end, the successes of the tour had been spectacular, involving several aviation firsts in the Caribbean.

After this Dr Forsyth gave up flying, but Al ‘Chief’ Anderson went on to a great career as a flying instructor, especially to the ‘Tuskegee Airmen’. Dr Forsyth practiced medicine in New Jersey until 1978, was active in the Civil Rights movement, and died in 1986, having lived to see increasing recognition of their aviation achievements.

Pic of Dr. Forsythe (1st from left) & Friends

See You in Jamaica

Dr. Edmund Clarke Kinkead - Optician and Physician

Edmund Clarke Kinkead was born in Kingston on July 18th, 1873, the eldest of the twelve children of Edward Daniel and Ursulena Clarke Kinkead. He was educated at the Collegiate School, then the best school in Kingston, and at schools in England. He worked in the Drug Department of his father’s store in Kingston.

He studied optics in Toronto in the mid-1890s and then ran the Optical Department of his father’s establishment; later he started his own office as an optician. He studied medicine at Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada and graduated M.D. and C.M.

He practised in Jamaica and later in Central America, where he was in charge of the United Fruit Company’s Hospital, in Bocas-del-Toro.

He went to Britain around 1908 and graduated at Edinburgh as L.R.C.P, and L.R.C.S. and at Glasgow as L.F.P. and S.

At the end of World War I he migrated to the U.S.A.; he died in Boston in 1928. He was married twice, and was survived by his four children. The Kinkead family still operates their pharmacy on Port Royal Street.

In 1910 the Jamaica Times described Dr E. C. Kinkead as ‘Kindly, sympathetic, good to the poor. A worthy son of a worthy father.’

See You in Jamaica

James Josiah Edwards - Brilliant and Distinguished Doctor

James Josiah Edwards was born in Ulster Spring, Trelawny, in 1865. He was the sixth child and the fourth son of the thirteen children of William and Mary Edwards. His father did business at Ulster Spring and owned a considerable quantity of land in the district. He went to Stewart Town Baptist school, where his teacher was the Rev. S. J. Washington a widely respected and gifted Black Baptist Pastor. From nine to eighteen years old he received further tuition from his brother, J. B. Ed­wards, who had passed successfully through Calabar College.

His first job was as copyist in the St. Ann’s Bay District Court’s Office where he stayed for three and a half years. In 1883, he left the island for Panama and worked for three and a half years for the English and Dutch firm who were the contractors for the Culebra Cut. In 1887 he returned to Jamaica and qualified for Matriculation in Bishop’s College, Montreal, to study medicine; he entered the College in October of the same year.

In his first year J. J. Edwards won the Dissector’s Prize and took first place in every subject but one. In the second year he won the ‘year’ prize. He also came top in every subject and clinched his hold on David’s Scholarship and medal. In his third year he carried off the Scholarship and medal. In his final year at College he carried off the 3 gold medals and came out ahead in every subject of the graduating year. He received his Diploma as “Dr. of Medicine and Master of Surgery.” Dr. Edwards thus won five out of six prizes and medals thus establishing a record which had never been beaten at Bishop’s College in its forty years of existence. In the Autumn of 1891 he took his qualifications at Edinburgh and Glasgow, taking “the triple qualifications,” and in a class of one hundred students winning the third place.

On returning to Jamaica, he practised in Spanish Town, where he established “The Governor Olivier Sanitarium,” and the “Nurses’ Training School” which was opened by His Excellency the Governor in 1906; 110 Nurses were trained at the School.

He was a member of the St. Catherine Parochial Board, for eight years, and also found time to give popular Iectures on health at the St. Catherine Teacher’s Association, and regularly addressed the children of the Government Schools in Spanish Town on various topics.

He visited England in 1909 for special studies in ear, throat and mouth diseases and was Clinical Assistant at the Moorfields Eye Hospital, City Road, and also at the Gray’s Inn Road Nose, Ear and Throat Hospital.

Later he moved his practice to St. Mary where he was also active in local affairs

He was Acting Medical Officer of Health for Spanish Town, and adjoining districts, and also for the District of St. Dorothy, in the parish of St. Catherine. Later he was Medical Officer of Health for the Bagnolds and Retreat districts of St. Mary. He played a major role in fighting the Alastrim [a mild form of small pox] epidemic in 1920- in St Catherine and St Mary.

In 1919 he was honoured by McGill University, Montreal, who conferred on him an “M.D Ad eundem” Degree “Honoris Causa,” the only doctor in the West Indies to receive such honour. In the same year the Royal Institute of Public Health, London, England, at a meeting of the Council unanimously elected him a “Fellow of the Institute."

Horticulture was one of his hobbies and he con­tributed regularly to the St. Catherine Shows and on one occasion he carried off twelve first and two second prizes. He acted as President of the St. Catherine Agricultural Society, and on several occasion was a judge at the Hope Shows.

Dr Edwards supported Dr Robert Love in his campaign to get Black men into the Legislative Council.

He was a Director of the St. Catherine Building Society; a Member of the Hamilton Lodge, Free Masons, and a Past Master; a Past District Chief Ranger of the Ancient Order of Foresters; Provincial Deputy Grand Master of the Manchester Unity Odd Fellows, Jamaica.

In the 1926 Who’s Who in Jamaica he listed his recreations as “Hard work, intense application, horticulture.”

See You in Jamaica

Dr. Robert M. Stimpson - Extraordinary Army Surgeon

Robert Stimpson was born in Manchester, Jamaica, in 1868. He received his early education from the Rev. C. L. Barnes, a Black Anglican clergyman. He left school when he was 14, and worked in his step-father’s shop, until he was 19, but he continued his education, by studying after the shop closed at 9 o’clock at night. He won a place to study at the Kingston Public Hospital, where he qualified as a pharmacist. He then opened his own pharmacy, and continued to save his money so that he could go away to study medicine. In 1895 he qualified to go to Bishop’s University in Montreal, Canada, where he did very well in all his courses, coming first in four of them. He graduated with 1st class honours in 1898.

After this he went to the USA and had a medical practice in Detroit. When the war broke out in Cuba he joined the US army, and went to Cuba as an army doctor. He was the first, and at that time the only, Black doctor serving as an officer with a White regiment in the US army. After Cuba he took a post at an army hospital in Puerto Rico; later he was offered a permanent post in the US regular army, but he turned down the offer, in order to complete his medical studies in Britain. There, at Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities, he obtained advanced medical degrees; he then returned to Jamaica to practise as a doctor in his native parish, Manchester. He was elected to the Manchester Parochial Board (like the modern Parish Council); he represented his church at the diocesan synod; he served as a Government medical officer in Manchester and St. Elizabeth; he was appointed a Justice of the Peace.

Dr. Robert Stimpson was a highly qualified doctor and a high-principled servant of the public in Jamaica.

See You in Jamaica

Cicely Williams - Researcher and Pediatrician

Cicely Williams was born in 1893 at Kew Park, Darliston, Westmoreland, and was educated in Jamaica, partly at Wolmer’s Girls’ School.

During World War I in 1914 she started to take First Aid and nursing classes and thought seriously about studying medicine. In 1916, after her father‘s death she decided to go to Oxford, her father's alma mater. She was one of the women admitted because there were so few male students during the war.

After graduation in 1923 Cicely decided to specialize in paediatrics and soon applied to the British Colonial Office for an overseas posting. She was sent to the Gold Coast (now Ghana) in 1929 and spent 7 years there, learning to speak Twi and working to improve health conditions. She established clinics and hospitals and improved record keeping. She also worked with African herbal doctors to learn their treatments for diseases for which European medicine had no cures.

Dr. Williams' most important work in Africa was her diagnosis of the common and often fatal condition kwashiorkor. She learned that "kwashiorkor" meant the sickness the older child gets when the next baby is born. This seemed to indicate that, when they were no longer breast-fed, children were not receiving enough to eat. The cure for kwashiorkor was therefore education on children's nutritional needs. She quickly published her diagnosis of kwashiorkor as a protein deficiency disease, which attracted the attention of the medical world.

In the late 1930s she was transferred to Malaya. After suffering from terrible conditions and bad treatment during World War II in Japanese prisoner of war camps, which brought her near to death, she returned to Malaya and was first woman placed in charge of the maternity and child welfare services. She campaigned vigorously against the promotion by the milk companies of dried and canned milk as a substitute for breast-feeding in Third World countries.

From the late 1940s to the mid-1960s she worked first with the World Health Organization, then as a university lecturer in Jamaica, England and Lebanon. Into her nineties Dr. Williams remained an active speaker in many countries world-wide, on her primary interests of maternal and child health, especially nutrition and breast feeding, birth control, the training of personnel and the development of health services. She was also an active member of the Medical Association for the Prevention of War. She died in England in 1992.

See You in Jamaica

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Third World - Reggae Band

Third World is a Jamaican reggae band formed in 1973. Their sound is influenced by soul, funk and disco.

The band started when keyboard player Michael "Ibo" Cooper and guitarist (and cellist) Stephen "Cat" Coore left Inner Circle to form their own band. The line-up for their first album as Third World included a singer called "Prilly" and percussionist Irving "Carrot" Jarrett. The album included a cover of "Satta Amasa Gana", originally performed by The Abyssinians, which became a local hit.

Their second album, "96° In The Shade", had several local hits and featured the band's classic line-up. "Prilly" was replaced by the distinctive vocalist "Bunny Rugs" Clarke, and an all-new rhythm section was in place: Ritchie Daley was on bass and former Inner Circle drummer Willie Stewart defected to join the new band. Notable among the eight tracks were "1865 (96° In The Shade)", "Rhythm Of Life" and the only cover song on the album, "Dreamland" by Neville "Bunny Wailer" Livingstone.

Their greatest success came in the late 1970s/early 1980s, peaking with their cover version of The O'Jays "Now That We've Found Love", a hit single on both sides of the Atlantic in 1979. This song brought them to the attention of Stevie Wonder, who worked with them and wrote (along with Melody A. McCully) their song "Try Jah Love".

Amid claims of artistic differences "Carrot" split from the band in the mid-1980s. The resulting five-piece band then went to more commercial tunes like "Sense Of Purpose", "Reggae Ambassador" and "Forbidden Love".

Despite several more line-up changes, including the departures of "Ibo" and Willie Stewart, and a decline in mainstream success, the band are still recording and performing in the early 2000s.

See You in Jamaica

Inner Circle - Reggae Band

The reggae group Inner Circle was formed in 1968 by the brothers Ian and Roger Lewis in Jamaica. They are responsible for the 1989 song "Bad Boys," which serves as the theme song for Fox Network's long-running television program COPS. However, at first they covered soul and R&B hits from the United States, and then also a few reggae songs, predominantly from Bob Marley.

The band released its debut album in 1974 on the famed record label, Trojan Records, and resigned in 1979 to Island Records, where the internationally successful album Everything Is Great originated. This album reached top 20 in the UK and preceded their other chart success by some years.

The original Inner circle band included Ibo Cooper (key boards), Steven Cat Core (Guitar), Funky Brown(bermudian expatriate vocalist) Prilly (vocalist) Ian and Roger Lewis and Mr. Lewis. The bands residence was originally on Holborn road in new kingston. In latter years they had a brass section that included Llewelyn Chang on alto sax and Leighton Johnson on trumpet both former menbers of the Excelsior High School band. During that time the band toured extensively to North America and Bermuda. At the end of this time Ibo,and Cat went off to start their own band which was Third world band whose hits include, "now that we've found love" and "ninety degrees in the shade" Ibo, Cat, and Funky Brown were at this time students of the University of the West Indies studying for various degrees.

Inner Circle was decidedly influenced through the original member Jacob Miller, the frontman and lead singer who was killed in a car crash on March 23, 1980. At the end of the 1970s Inner Circle with Jacob "Killer" Miller was more popular in Jamaica than Bob Marley. The band also appeared in the reggae cult film Rockers in 1978.

After the loss of Jacob Miller, Inner Circle broke up, but in 1982 another album called Something So Good was released. In 1986 Ian and Roger Lewis re-established Inner Circle with the singer Calton Coffie, and the band experienced a comeback with the album Black Roses.

In 1989, Inner Circle released the song "Bad Boys." Since then, the band calls itself "The Bad Boys of Reggae". They had another big hit with the 1993 song "Sweat (A La La La La Long)".

The lead singer Calton Coffie was ill for a long period in 1995 and decided after his recuperation to start a solo career. The current singer Kris Bentley took his place.

See You in Jamaica

Black Uhuru - Reggae Band

Black Uhuru, formed by Derrick "Duckie" Simpson, is a Jamaican reggae band probably best known for their hits "Shine Eye Gal", "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," "Sinsemilla," "Solidarity," and Grammy Winner "What Is Life?". They were the first group to win a Grammy in the reggae category when it was introduced in 1985. They originally formed as 'Black Sounds Uhro' (the Swahili word for freedom).[1]

The first line-up of the group was Garth Dennis, Don Carlos, and Derrick "Duckie" Simpson. The group has undergone several lineup changes: Carlos left, replaced by Michael Rose; then Dennis left to play with The Wailing Souls, and was replaced by Errol Nelson. During this early period, the band's most famous recording is the album entitled Love Crisis, later rereleased as Black Sounds Of Freedom. In 1979 the group was joined by Sandra "Puma" Jones, a social worker from North Carolina, USA. Under this lineup, (Rose, Simpson and Jones), with Sly & Robbie as producers (and also permanently employed on drum and bass), they released the band's most popular albums: Sinsemilla, Red, Chill Out, and the Grammy-winning Anthem[1], as well as others. During this period, Black Uhuru became one of the most popular reggae groups in the world, regularly touring with the likes of The Police and The Rolling Stones. Live 1984 (a concert at the Rockpalast in Germany, but was actually recorded on October 18, 1981) captures the band at the height of its powers.

After Rose went solo in 1985, Junior Reid joined for a few records and also left; Puma Jones left in 1987 (and died of cancer three years later, in 1990). In 1990, Simpson reunited with Dennis and Carlos in the original line-up of the group. They recorded several albums and toured extensively. By the end of the 90s, Dennis and Carlos left the band and fought a legal battle against Simpson over the name&rights of Black Uhuru. Simpson won the lawsuit and formed yet another incarnation of Black Uhuru with Andrew Bees as lead singer. Only one album, Dynasty, was released before Bees went back to pursue his solo career.

In February 2004, it was announced in the Jamaican press that Simpson and Michael Rose had re-united under the name "Black Uhuru feat. Michael Rose". Together with a female backing singer named Kay Starr, they released a single, "Dollars" and performed at several concerts including "Western Consciousness 2004" on April 28 in Jamaica, of which a live video was released shortly thereafter. A new album has been reported to be in progress.They are also currently Touring Europe 2006.

See You in Jamaica

Friday, February 02, 2007

Gordon 'Butch' Stewart - Jamaica's First International Superstar Businessman

It is perhaps to God or science that we will have to turn to come to an understanding of the deep mysteries and the unfathomable motivation behind the modern day phenomenon that is Gordon 'Butch' Stewart of Jamaica.
Gordon Butch Stewart did not inherit his wealth as many other white Jamaicans might have but accumulated his almost US$1 billion net worth through ingenuity and hard work.

What explains, for example, that an individual so accomplished would push himself so relentlessly beyond the borders of excellence, constantly shifting his own goal posts, until even his detractors are forced to ask 'what manner of man is this?'

Indeed, we have saved the best wine for the last, as this first series of wondrous tales of extraordinary Jamaicans, these living heroes of their times, comes to a close. Our children will read of them and need not look outside for examples that don't relate to the context in which they live and breathe and have their being. And so we turn now to one of the most extraordinary of them all.

This final prose should be our magnum opus, but we must admit that at last the interviewer has met his match, has finally run out of words to adequately tell the story of Gordon 'Butch' Stewart.

So much has been said and written of him that one can only have pity for the poor script-writer,who is assigned to pen the next citation to honour this compulsive over-achiever. Let's poach terminology from sports and entertainment to say an incontrovertible truth - that Gordon Arthur Cyril Stewart, simply 'Butch' to his legions of admirers, is truly Jamaica's first international superstar of business.

Men fawn over people with money, perhaps because they would be beneficiaries themselves of what largesse there may be. But there comes a time, a rare moment even, when honour must be given to whom honour is due.

The virtual hero-worship, which surrounds Butch Stewart, is firmly anchored in genuine admiration for his enormous skill as a marketer and entrepreneur extraordinaire, his depth of generosity bequeathed to him by his father, his own sense of honour and, importantly, his infectious joie de vivre.

It can't be by mere accident, wouldn't you agree, dear reader, that Butch Stewart has existed in this time, in this age when men seek for saviours but find they are few. Imagine for a moment if you can, what Jamaica would have done without Stewart.

We will attempt to tell this story, resting easy knowing that whatever deficiencies there are, it is a story that has already been told in its many facets, by writers great and small, over the many years of his relentless drive to achieve greatness for self and country.

No glitter, no glamour

And wouldn't you know it, the Butch Stewart story began, not in the glitter and glamour of latter days, but in relative modesty in a time when his parents had to fend for themselves.

Here indeed is a man of the people; a man from among us, eloquent in the vernacular, not averse to dropping or taking a six-love in dominoes, the people's game; and men will remember and celebrate him as a local boy who made good.

For sure, his distant ancestry stretches back to colonial England but he knew what it was to be taken out of boarding school in Kingston because his parents could no longer afford the fees and to be sent to the rough and tumble of a school where dropouts ruled tough.

Topless Joan Collins

It is a mixed bag, the antecedents of this Gordon 'Butch' Stewart. His father, Gordon Leslie Cox, came to Jamaica as a baby of six months, and when his parents' marriage went on the rocks, was adopted by a wealthy St Ann couple, Ethel and Cyril Stewart, distant relatives who changed his name to Gordon Leslie Stewart - later to be the legendary chief engineer at the then Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC), the state-owned radio and television station.

Intriguingly, Ethel Stewart, who doted on the infant Butch, died, leaving her £1,000,000 fortune to charity. Butch's dad therefore had to fend for himself, trying his hand unsuccessfully at business before finally taking a job to feed his family.

Well before he was 10 years old, Butch learnt how to do what Jamaicans like to refer to as 'hustle', using creative ways to make money. He had an early obsession with the sea and buying a boat; he caught fish to sell to hotels and transported celebrities, including the actress Joan Collins, who shocked him by exposing her nude body on one of these trips to a Jamaican reef.

He saved like mad to buy his boat. Later he bought old cars, fixed them and sold them at a profit. But it would be years hence that people would come to realise that all that was mere practice for the empire on the horizon.

Some years ago his personal holdings were valued at a conservative US$1 billion and the respected Fortune magazine named him among the richest men in Britain, not bad for a boy fisherman.

Political shenanigans

As a salesman with an irresistible pitch, he built Appliance Traders Limited on some of the top brand names in the world; dreamed that he could conquer the world of tourism and built Sandals that today rates among the most luxurious hotel chains in the world; launched a newspaper that changed Jamaican journalism, and bought an airline that carried the hope and pride of a nation - the little piece of Jamaica that flies - but which defied his considerable genius in the face of political shenanigans.

And if his path would be lined with triumph and success, there too would be tragedy. In 1990, when a horrific traffic accident took the life of his son, Jonathan Stewart, on a Miami freeway, Butch mourned as only a loving father could. It is remembered that he would walk out of a board meeting, head for the accident site and plunge into deep, seemingly unreachable depression and remorse.

Across four sessions that stretched from Kingston to Miami, the interviewer followed this amazing, at times magical, story that cannot be fully told within the confines of the pages of a newspaper. To a life shaped by destiny itself, Butch Stewart was born on July 6, 1941, the first child of Jean Patricia nee Rerrie and Gordon Leslie Stewart, at the Nuttall Memorial Hospital near Cross Roads. His siblings are Patricia and Peter, who is now deceased.

'Baby fatman'

The name 'Butch' stuck very early. According to the family anecdote, the proud mother was showing off the newborn when in walked an officer of the Winnipeg Grenadiers, a Canadian regiment. "What am I going to call this child?" Jean asked no one in particular. "He is so fat you will have to call him 'Butch', the officer said. Some people started calling him "baby fatman".

Stewart has early recollections of life at Eastwood Park Road in St Andrew, a nice community where many people used to pass routinely through the Stewart home. "My father was a very entertaining person and he had many friends who would come by the house," Butch remembers. "The house was full of laughter as my father was a man of great humour."

Holidays with grandmother Ethel on her properties in Ocho Rios and Walkerswood, St Ann were special. Grandmother drove a car and lived in a big house. "When the breeze blew, it felt like the house was full of ghosts," to the young child. He spent much time by the sea and the rivers, swimming and catching fish. From those early days, Butch developed a love for the sea, having learnt to swim at the very early age of two-and-a-half.

Kindergarten was at Holy Cross and St Hugh's. Later, when his parents moved to Columbus Heights at Seville near Ocho Rios, Butch, eight years-old, was left to board at Campion Hall, as Campion College was then called.

He liked it at Campion and participated in football, cricket, track and softball. Ronnie Nasralla was among his teachers there. "He showed tremendous interest in the young," Butch recalls. Dr Coleman, who was in charge of the dorms, was very stern but had a big heart.

Most unlikely to succeed

He made good friends with people like Richard Stewart, now owner of Stewart's Auto; Tony Burrowes; the Stafford brothers and Basil Chin from Spanish Town, among others. But while there Butch still yearned for the rural life by the sea that he used to enjoy when he visited his grandmother.

The priests at Campion were reported to have made a dire prediction: that Butch and another boy with whom he was close, were the two boys "most unlikely to succeed in life". Suffice it to say that both boys would prove them wrong. And how!

Money was tight with the Stewarts and they decided they could no longer afford the fees at Campion. Butch was called home and sent to day school at Columbus Heights, outside St Ann's Bay, remembering that he and a friend, Arthur Lowe, travelled to school on a church bus. Butch didn't mind leaving school in Kingston. He got the chance to go to the sea more often and to catch fish.

He would sell the fish to the hotels and what was left he would sell to his parents at half-price, which they would buy just to humour him. More than anything else, he wanted to own a boat. When he had sold enough fish and with assistance from his grandmother, he bought a bateau, a sort of half canoe.

James Bond's Dr No

When he was about 12 years of age, Butch borrowed his father's motor boat, convinced the filming crew of the James Bond movie Dr No that he had enough skill to transport crew members to the reefs and earned money doing so.

He also similarly transported the British actress Joan Collins and could not believe his eyes when she took off her top, exposing her nudity to the bewildered boatman!

He was sent to the more affordable St Mary's College, which was in its infancy, at Above Rocks in the eastern parish. There he learnt to be tough. He had to. The students at the Roman Catholic-run institution were a mix of day students, like Butch, who were mostly from the area and boarders who were dropouts who could not get into any other school.

"It was an experimental situation, and so when I was 16, I found myself in a class with someone who was 26 years old," Butch recalls. The school had several gangs. "If you could not stand up for yourself, you would have to take a lot of beatings from them." One bully punched Butch down after he refused to give up his lunch money.

But he fought back and the bully never touched him again. He also remembers that the school had pit latrines and the students drank water from a standpipe. "None of these things hurt anybody and I did not feel as if anything was wrong," Butch insists.

Grandma Ethel dies

People like Brian Rosen and Winston Zaidie kept track of them. Butch especially liked it that St Mary's College was co-educational "which made life more interesting".

And he pays tribute to Fr Chaney who developed the school and got funding out of Boston to keep it going. He was also fond of a teacher named Mr Barrett, remembering how he and the school had been traumatised when Barrett had a heart attack and died, after diving from the diving board into the pool.

"It was the first death that was close to me up till that time. We were badly shaken."

Another death, even closer home, would shatter his young life soon again. This time it was his grandmother, Ethel. This was 1955. He had loved this eccentric woman who loved cars and dogs and travelled the length and breadth of Jamaica, visiting friends. She had often pulled him out of school to accompany her. Upon her death, she left most of her money to staff and charity, but she had also left him a small portion.

Many years thence when he would manage Sandals Ocho Rios for the Ciboney people, the memories would be rekindled when Ethel Stewart's house on the same site was converted into the hotel's piano bar.

Collin Mills

The years in Ocho Rios were great though. He formed a lifetime friendship with Collin Mills, now a businessman whose mother worked at the time with Butch's grandmother. Bauxite was the ore of the moment and when Reynolds came to Ocho Rios, it transformed the town. His grandmother sold her farm to the company.

His father operated the Bandana nightclub, bar and cafeteria complex, a rent-a-car agency, as well as a commission agency selling things like small appliances, batteries and flashlights, based on the business activities generated by Reynolds. The scenic north coast resort town was abuzz with construction and other professionals, and Butch felt alive.

Daddy Stewart's generosity and good humour stood out and his son took notice. He liked doing fun things. There was much drinking and carousing at the Bandana. Mr Stewart being not quite the businessman, the drinks would often be on the house and he would lend his friends the rent-a-cars.

"There was a time when my mother wanted a car to rent and all 16 of them had been lent out," recounts Butch. But the spirit of generosity of the father would be passed down to the son, even though he would learn not to squander his earnings.

Ganja? No thanks!

Mother Jean provided the stability in the home, Butch says. "Her influence on me was such that although I had a group of friends who used to smoke ganja, I would only take a cigarette. My friends laughed at me but I could not get her words out of my mind, to stay away from drugs."

His friends were the guys in the community and he recalls that there was not much of a middle-class in Ocho Rios. "Everybody knew everybody and I can't imagine a more protective community."

Meeting Norman Manley

After Above Rocks, Butch went to work in the commission agency for his mother who was now running it, selling refrigerators. By this time, his father had gone to work with Reynolds as a radio operator on one of its bauxite ships and then on to the JBC as its first engineer. Butch remembers going into Kingston at age 16 with his father, who drove a Morris Oxford car, to meet Premier Norman Manley for a job interview.

"When Manley came out to meet my father, he shook my hand," he recalls with pride. "We had always heard of politicians like him and it was an exciting time for me." Butch could not know then that in time he and Manley's son, Michael would be locking horns.

Butch spent three months with his mother, but soon realised that the business was going nowhere. He got his driver's licence and moved to Kingston to seek a job. In the capital, he lived at cousin Howard Cox's house at Havendale, near to Arnold Foote Jnr, with whom he became fast friends.

Howard was fun-loving and Butch liked living there. Tony Hendricks' dad, who was also a neighbour, got Butch a job at a company that made cashmere sweaters. His job was to maintain the machines and train the female employees to operate them. "I was also the office run-about. I used to collect the money and buy supplies for the business," he recounts.

But something was not adding up. Butch was feeling increasingly depressed about the job. He was putting his all into it but getting no satisfaction from it.

One night in bed it suddenly struck him that the problem was the job. This was not what he had been dreaming about and not what he had come to Kingston for. He had trouble sleeping that night, but before he finally trailed off, he had made up his mind what he had to do, and it had to be no later than tomorrow.

Story by: Desmond Allen (

See You in Jamaica

Ralston 'Rex' Nettleford, OM - Jamaican Scholar

Ralston Milton Nettleford OM (Jamaica) (b. 3 February 1933, Falmouth, Jamaica) better known as Rex Nettleford is a Jamaican scholar, social critic and choreographer.

Nettleford was a recipient of the 1957 Rhodes Scholarship, and returned to Jamaica in the early 1960s to take up a position at the University of the West Indies. At the UWI he first came to attention as a co-author (with M.G. Smith and Roy Augier) of a groundbreaking study of the Rastafari movement in 1961. In 1963 he founded the National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica, an ensemble which under his direction did much to incorporate traditional Jamaican music and dance into a formal balletic repertoire.

Beginning with the collection of essays Mirror, Mirror published in 1969 and his editing and compiling of the speeches and writings of Norman Manley, Manley and the New Jamaica, in 1971, Nettleford established himself as a serious public historian and social critic. In 1968, Nettleford took over direction of the School for Continuing Studies at the UWI and then of the Extra-Mural Department. In 1975, the Jamaican state recognized his cultural and scholarly achievements by awarding him the Order of Merit. In 1996, he became Vice-Chancellor of the UWI, and held that office until 2004, when he was succeeded by E. Nigel Harris.

See you in Jamaica