Exhale Jamaica was a breath of fresh air.
This creative experience brought artisan vendors, a sip n paint, poets, and Jamaican musicians performing through a range of genres all into one space- The Haven. I stepped into a cove of energy with patrons chatting and vibing to the music, patronising the vendors and painting, all while waiting for the first act. There were a handful of vendors but the one that stood out to me the most was @EarthandMoon_ because they offer a wide variety of earth-toned jewellery that speaks to my soul.
The lineup started with Krystol sharing her heart songs with us, her poetry illustrated painful heartbreak then being able to rise out of the pain when she found herself again. The next poet was Israel who took us to a sombre mood with “Retribution,” declaring to defend as many women as possible from the pain of assault, with an added tribute to Tupac Shakur by ending the poem with a line from his song. Dom the Poet followed, leaving each member of the audience lusting for their significant other- Dom made it clear how ladies are to be treated in bed- the audience roared in appreciation to that piece.
Meanwhile, we were among some Picasso’s getting lit by the ‘Paint n Sip,’ the muse was a solitary black and yellow butterfly on a blue background but the instructor gave us the option of painting it with any twist we chose. I would insert a photo of my painting but I’mma shield y’all from my 4-year-old level skills.
The musical lineup showed the variety of sounds that can be found in Jamaica. Following the poetry, a rock band graced the stage – Far From Dead – and they rocked. The lineup included two rappers: Marco Bakes and Matt Dewar, whose fans came out in numbers, the audience was singing along. The real stand-outs to me were the soulful RnB singers, their talent truly reminded me of the Colors programme on YouTube. Many of the talented artists sang love songs, which was appreciated because the world needs more love but even more than that, we have more than enough space in the creative world for all the melodious voices that could be heard. It was my first time hearing Meila Akilah and Blieu, and about my fourth time hearing Sara Bloom. Let’s just say, I have a new catalog of artistes to watch.
One thing’s for certain… Ras-I and the Revelationz Band took my heart. I think that was the aim because this set was filled with a selection of his love songs. The sweet melodies of Ras-I and his background vocalists melded together and sat sweetly on top of the instruments. We got to croon along to “Crazy Over You,” and get a taste of his then-unreleased single, “Ordinary Day.” After inviting his breddrins, BLVK H3RO and 5 Star, on stage to freestyle to his track Ras-I closed the show on a high note with “Know Herb.”
I don’t think the event garnered as much of a crowd as it should have. The show was put together very well, from start to finish the artists kept the audience engaged. It offered a medium to support small Jamaican businesses. And as a bonus they had a ‘Paint n Sip’ for just an additional one thousand dollars (JMD), that was one of the cheapest prices I’ve seen for that type of activity, which in this case was coupled with a concert. Exhale Jamaica kudos to you, let me know when you’ll be having the next edition because I will be there to support.
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