October 3, 2023
The four-member group Soursop, which placed third in this year’s staging of the Jamaica’s Best School Band competition, was in fine form at the recent staging of the Grass Roots and Blankets live showcase series.
Held on the lawns of 14 University Crescent in Mona, St Andrew, the event, hosted by the band 8, also featured performances by Journexx and Kodi Blaine.
Soursop is the school band for Papine High School. Two of its members are in fifth form and the other two are in sixth form.
The group performed a string of popular Jamaican songs including Beres Hammond’s I Feel Good and Can You Play Some More; Bob Marley’s Jammin and Could You Be Loved; and their original Twinkle in the Night, which the members said was dedicated to their teacher, “Mr Henry”.
“Mr Henry is such a tremendous human being to us and he still is,” said co-lead vocalist D’Andre Myrie.
Member Kyma-Lee Stoddart concurred: “The friendship that we have with Mr Henry is indescribable. His contribution to the band is immeasurable. He has been a motivator, a friend, and a father to us,” she disclosed in an interview with the Jamaica Observer post-performance.
The members of the band said they were elated when they were contacted to be a part of the Grass Roots and Blankets event.
“I was, like, finally! As mi reach mi can get to perform with the band and to perform here in front of this lovely crowd,” said Stoddart who was overseas at the time when she learnt about the event.
She said the fun part of the performance was interacting with the members of the audience.
“As you saw, we went down into the crowd and danced and interacted with them. When I heard the people cheering it really felt good,” said Stoddart.
Singer Kodi Blaine, a recent graduate of The University of the West Indies, said when she was contacted to be a part of the proceedings it was an instant yes.
“I said yes, definitely. I’m down for it. I have been looking for opportunities like this because I haven’t done a performance in Jamaica in a while,” said Blaine, who has now decided to embark on a career in music.
Said Blaine: “The event was really cosy and nice to have such an intimate crowd and a nice blend of people. I just tried to put myself into the perspective of someone in the audience.”
Backed by her guitarist Tyrese Brown, Blaine delivered Amy Winehouse’s Valerie, Skeeter Davis’s End of the World, and Sizzla’s Give Me a Try much to the delight of the audience.
Armed with two background singers and two dancers, singer Journexx upped the ante with a rousing set that was reminiscent of a cabaret showcase.
He ran through several songs, among them Koffee’s Pull Up, while throwing in a few original numbers such as Try and Breakup.
“It was just a surreal moment for me being on that stage tonight. I’ve been waiting on this opportunity from as far back as in May of this year when they reached out to me. The experience came together very well. The highlight of the performance, for me, was my original song Respect. I wrote it out of sheer respect for Bob Marley and the work that he has done to take out culture globally,” said Journexx.
He plans to release Respect in November.
Hosts, the band 8, closed the event with a sterling performance. With patrons on their feet and singing along word for word, the six members of the group ran through a veritable hit list comprising Jamaican music from the 1960s to the latest tunes.
Vocalists Matthew Gillespie, Jhada Dwyer and Dimetri Wynter never missed a step despite dancing up a storm while singing. Their interpretations of Wayne Wonder and Buju Banton’s Bonafide Love, Alphaville’s 1984 original Forever Young (made popular by Laura Brannigan), Michael Bolton’s Missing You Now, Beres Hammond’s Putting Up Resistance, Maxi Priest’s Just a Little Bit Longer, Cocoa Tea’s She Loves Me Now, Half Pint’s Substitute Lover, Richie Spice’s 1999 breakthrough hit Grooving My Girl, Lukie D’s Missing You Like Crazy, Tarrus Riley’s Just the Way You Are, Bread’s 1970’s chestnut Everything I Own (a number one hit for Jamaican singer Ken Boothe on the British chart in 1974), and Everton Blender’s Lift Up Your Head, were just some of songs that kept vibes flowing.
The group also threw in some original material including Hennessey, Guilty, and Universal Love.
Dimetri Wynter, one of the vocalists of the group said it was important to pay tribute to the greats.
“It’s very important for us to pay homage to the veteran Jamaican acts. We have been inspired by them and it’s a part of our history. Its part of our musical timeline,” said Wynter.
Drummer George Campbell agreed: “These songs that we chose are really dear to our hearts as musicians, so we had to show our appreciation.”
Wynter said that, even though the members performed covers of songs, showcasing their originality is also integral.
“We don’t only want to do covers, it’s also important to give the people us and show our originality,” he said.
Bassist and leader of the group Jhada Dwyer said it was crucial to keep the band’s sound and blueprint at the forefront.
“We strive to be what no other Jamaican band has done, which is a full package, including instrumentation, synergy, singing, and a different vibe; a wholesome vibe that anyone can come out and enjoy. It is really important to us,” he shared.
Production company Sparkles Production handled sound and lighting creditably for the event.
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