Tempo Turns Ten and Turns up the Heat at Caribbean Week in NYC
Live Performances at Caribbean Rocks
Among the early performers was an American artist of Bahamian descent by the name of Tebby who shared with the audience her unique blend of pop, calypso, R&B and soul music in a short but engaging performance. She was followed by Mr. Bagnall representing St. Kitts who gave attendees 10 minutes of incredible entertainment.
Up next was a high-energy artist from Turks and Caicos called Tess who was backed by a riveting group of entertaining dancers. I also thoroughly enjoyed the Spank Band from Bahamas but must admit that I was floored by the presence of calypso singer and songwriter of international fame, the Mighty Sparrow (oftentimes referred to as the “Calypso King of the World” and rightfully so). Sparrow made his way to the stage slowly but none-the-less giving us a top-notch vocal performance.
As the evening progressed the audience was treated to a large troupe of talented dancers called the Colors Junkanoo. Completely outfitted in ultra-colorful/larger than life costumes they excited attendees right out of their seats surrounding them on the dance floor to cheer them as they made their way throughout the venue.
Among the most anticipated acts of the evening were Jamaican artists Ce’cile and Romain Virgo who both gave spectacular performances that sizzled by way of musical selections and sheer stage charisma. And, I would be woefully remiss for not mentioning other stellar performances well presented by artists Loyal Flames (who joined Romain Virgo on stage), R. City, Ziggy Ranking, Isaac Blackman, RKG Dartiste and Shurwayne Winchester.
And just as important as the sensational musical performances and dancing were, there were also excellent
In recognition of their considerable achievements TEMPO presented several awards during the course of the evening.
The first was an Image Award given to celebrity stylist Eric Archibald who hails from Antigua. Archibald is the head stylist for award winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson and was the stylist for Beyonce’s Lemonade Tour to mention only two of his major celebrity clients and projects.
In recognition of his life work, a posthumous Achievement Award was bestowed to the late Bahamian artist Johnny Kemp who died accidentally in April 2015 at age fifty-five. Kemp is best known for his 1989 Grammy nominated song “Just Got Paid” in the category of Best R&B Song. The presentation honoring Kemp was made to his wife Diedre Kemp who was joined onstage by their sons. Her short acceptance speech was filled with emotion and she graciously expressed her deep appreciation for the recognition of her late husband.
The Leaders Award went to Hugh Riley who is the Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Board. As the chief operating officer Mr. Riley has the responsibility of overseeing offices in North America, the United Kingdom, Europe and in Barbados where their offices are located. He is instrumental in ensuring the effective delivery of agency services for everything from information technology to tourism development both in corporate and government sectors. To summarize all that he accomplishes here would be impossible leaving me to say, his tenure has favorably impacted the vision and growth of the board.
The Chairman’s Award was given to Abu Alam, Chief Financial Officer of TEMPO in recognition of eight years of outstanding service to TEMPO. East Indian in heritage, his acceptance speech brought warm cheers as he basically explained how much he loves and embraces the Caribbean and considers himself an honorary member.
Dr. Una Clarke received the Pioneer Award. Looking absolutely smashing, the former NYC Council Member held her first office in 1991 and for a decade represented the 40th Council District in Brooklyn NY. For those who don’t know, Dr Clarke holds the distinction of being the first Caribbean woman to serve in the City Legislature. Dr. Clarke was joined onstage by her children: television producer Leslie Clarke Jr and his wife, and daughter Congresswoman Yvette Clarke who following her mother was encouraged to offer a few words of inspiration which she did extremely well while mentioning the importance of voting and supporting networks like TEMPO.
Immediately following his stage performance TEMPO bestowed the Icon Award to Grenadian born 40-year veteran artist Mighty Sparrow “ The Birdie” who turns 81-years of age this year on July 9th. This adds to his treasure chest of awards and honors including the Chaconia Medal Award (1993), an Honorary PhD from the University of the West Indies and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the government of Trinidad & Tobago in 2013 where his family relocated to when he was age one and where he currently claims residency.
It was a complete surprise to him and clearly a humbling moment when the final award presented for the evening called the Spirit of Marcus Garvey Award was presented to TEMPO’s Founder and CEO Frederick Morton Jr. Needless to say there was nary a dry house in the house when he finished making a short but heartfelt speech bearing his love and continued commitment to the TEMPO organization, thanks and appreciation.
Special events come and go however I predict that in years to come Caribbean Rocks NYC will undoubtedly increase in popularity and hopefully pave the way for similar events to follow, at destinations across the globe. Over the course of the next three months Caribbean Rocks NYC – TEMPO Turns Ten plans to telecast the program across TEMPO’s cable television distribution network. Clearly on a mission to highlight the breadth and scope of Caribbean culture to the world, TEMPO passionately states on their website: “Caribbean people are extraordinary. We have made significant contributions to the world, and it is time those contributions be recognized.” I totally agree and advise that you follow TEMPO on all social networks and sign up for their mailing lists. Subscribe to their channel in your area and if it’s not yet there, contact your local cable provider and don’t just ask for it, demand it and then encourage your friends to do the same!
Grace Vanriel is the founder and CEO of the Live Reggae NYC network and co-founder of The Reggaeholics Movement to preserve and promote Reggae music as a traditional Jamaican art form; she is a freelance writer for Where Itz At Magazine, Senior Correspondent for ReggaeReflection.com, CatchTheVybe.com, and BuildUrBuzz.com.
Melvin Calendar is a freelance photographer based in NYC covering a wide variety of Caribbean shows and festivals in the NYC region.