Soul stirring reggae
It was indeed an I-Queen Soul Shakedown Party last Saturday night when I-Queen Culture Festival producer Rachelle Gray created history by staging the first ever reggae concert held at the Frank Collymore Hall.
Disregarding the treat of bad weather, those who braved the “storm” were treated to an irie serving of homegrown and regional reggae music.
Under the guide of Madre of Ceremonies, Empress Itrina, the night’s event opened with a pouring of libation and the singing of the national anthem to the rhythms of Nyabinghi drums. Opening the show was Dominica’s Nelly Stharre and Trevy Felix who rocked the hall with pulsating ska beats and conscious lyrical concepts, over vintage reggae sounds, made soulful by the background vocalist of Hygraid the Band.
Next to join the party was Tabitha Johnson, who chanted down the place with a Queen Ifrica number but left the audience to sing the hook to her debut single Going Crazy.
Against galvanised paling backdrops painted in the revolutionary red, gold and green colours, Hygraid took over the conscious party after the Dominican set and had patrons bubbling in the seats of the hall as they rendered a spicy 30-minute set laced with the well-loved original tracks, Pressure Point, Borrow You, and Mr. Gunman.
The second half of the show opened with a spoken word piece titled Wombman performed by Empress Itrina, who set the tone for the acoustic set of the event’s headliner act iNDRANi Santiago.
Taking the stage with her guitar by her side and seated on a box, as the stage light silhouetted her petit frame the sweet voice gave way to a rebel diva spirit that showed why iNDRANi was indeed the most sought after vocalist and songwriters in the industry. Performing a full set of original tunes iNDRANi was accompanied by Simon Pipe on guitar, Onika Best on percussions and Plan D debuting on backup vocals. Adding some edginess to her set, iNDRANi was then joined by the raspy chants of L.R.G, Lion Rastafari Guide as they collaborated on the haunting track Be Thou.
L.R.G then up the ante as he delivered Mr. Minister, questioning the absence of ministers when the people are their greatest time of need.
It was at this point patrons were taken to the climax of the night’s events as iNDRANi transformed the second part of her performance into a reggae dance session backed by a lively Hygraid. Drawing from songs like Journey (Rasta De Yah) and Star, which she co-wrote with Jamaica’s Stone Love, iNDRANi, prompted by a request for an encore, returned to the stage and performed Signs, which was produced by Mr. Vegas and Mikie Bennett.
As the full cast took the stage to close out the show in a grand finale, the words of Marcus Garvey to look for him in the whirlwind made the heavy rains beating down outside the hall seem more like showers of blessings and the I-Queen Soul Shakedown Party good food for the soul.