The Hope Gardens Shell Bandstand will set ablaze on Saturday, March 26, (5 p.m.-12 p.m.) when Vaughn Benjamin of Akae Beka, former lead vocalist of the internationally revered St Croix‐based reggae band Midnite, performs for the first time in Kingston alongside a cadre of African‐conscious artistes. Away to Africa’s founder, Tiffanie Anderson co‐produced this special Midnite In Kingston initiative with Lauren Watkis. The event is rather timely with Kingston being on the cusp of a cultural reawakening mostly led by a new wave of reggae artistes, some of whom will join Benjamin on the show.
Militant new age voices like Jah9, who is known for her thought‐provoking poetry/jazz/dub fusion and has not performed in Jamaica for quite some, will take the stage ahead of a highly anticipated new album; Jesse Royal who has made serious waves in Europe, Japan and the Americas; longstanding reggae artiste Lutan Fyah; budding greats Dre Island and Xana Romeo (daughter of veteran artiste Max Romeo) both named artistes to watch this year on Largeup.com; and Zinc Fence Records producer/recording artistes Silkki Wonda, will deliver solid tunes .
Add to that the musical styling of Dubwise conceptualiser and chief disc jock, Rory ‘Yaadcore’ Cha, alongside I Grade Dub (St Croix) —accomplished producer, audio engineer and dub mixer, Laurent ‘Tippy I’ Alfred— for clear promises of a sensational night.
Current ticket demands indicate Akae Beka/Midnite enthusiasts will be out in droves to enjoy Benjamin’s unique blend of highly spiritual chanting, singing and poetry, as many have eagerly anticipated a performance here since the 90s. For those who are not yet familiar with his music and style, Vaughn Benjamin recent transition to Akae Beka presents the perfect opportunity to introduce him to a new, younger audience, now well primed by the Reggae Revival‐type lyrics of the accompanying artistes on the lineup and their peers, to receive the more hard‐hitting messages he is known for.
Also in keeping with the motive is a Reasoning Session the next day (March 27, 2 p.m.) led by Vaughn Benjamin & Jah9 at Kingston Dub Club, followed by the customary weekly session led by pioneer dub selector Gabre Selassie. The discussion will focus on how the region can align with Africa for mutual advancement, examining health, social, political, musical, economic and cultural matters, and seeks to ascertain why more members of the Caribbean and African diaspora are not travelling to the Motherland to connect with their roots.
Away to Africa’s founder, Tiffanie Anderson, is excited about the upcoming events and believes the synergy is perfect. The company, which is set to launch early next month, is designed to promote and foster safe, accessible, reciprocal travel between Africa and the diaspora and offers affordable trips to Ghana, Ethiopia, Mozambique and South Africa. The company’s aim is to portray an honest, accurate representation of the African continent to people who want to experience Africa’s beauty and culture, so with the artistes on the show all representing Rastafari, the lineup was an easy choice.
“Akae Beka’s music and energy has a very strong Motherland focus much like the other artistes on the show, so we thought it would be a good partnership as they all make music that embodies this outlook. Rastafari music is about African awareness and intelligence. It heavily promotes the necessity of having a direct connection with our roots and a continuous need to make the voyage to the Motherland,”she explained.
People are already excited and as the buzz continues, Midnite In Kingston is sure to amass an even bigger crowd, ready for a slew of hits like Holy Mountain, Mama Africa, Set It And Done andBeauty For Ashes.