Robbie Shakespeare Session

Mr. Shakespeare is in the building, let the session begin! This is surely a man with Things to Do and Places to Be, so when a few technical glitches had us ready 10 minutes late and he was still there with us, he was quick to point out that he was being a patient man. Thank you Mr. Shakespeare!

So I take a back seat while Robbie (I’ve always wanted to call him ‘Robbie’ 🙂 is learning the chord transitions of the song. But nobody warned me about how mischievous this one man can be! If Steven doesn’t ‘pull up’ in the moment Robbie wanted, if he ‘unmutes’ another vocal without telling him first, there came cards galore. In fact, Mr. Shakespeare turns to Steven Stewart (Engineer) at one point, and asks him if he didn’t know he should always walk with a bag to carry the cards he would leave him in the studio.

Then the weirdest, coolest thing happens… While sitting beside Steven and Handel and inventing his baseline, Robbie’s phone (then perched on the mixing board) starts ringing. Before long everybody stops what they were doing and starts watching the phone because it is ringing to the beat of the song, sometimes syncopated, sometimes on the 1st count, and in the exact key of the song, so it sounds like it was already mixed into the song itself… Sorry whoever it was, but you know seh that call never got answered!!

It’s incredible what a baseline does for a song. It anchors it, what everyone else has sung or played. It frames the mood. It completes it. So with Robbie the ‘Riddim Twin’ touch down, we officially have all the elements required for a Sly and Robbie Reggae Mix. This is the moment many of us on the project have been waiting for- the beginning of Listen 2 the Call Version 2.

NCB Foundation Puts Children First

CHILDREN First, a non-governmental organisation established to provide  life-changing opportunities for at-risk youth, recently opened with support from NCB Foundation, a newly furnished cyber centre at their Youth Wellness Centre.

The NCB Foundation provided support with $1 million towards the completion of the centre, which will help youngsters 10-22 in their computer skills training programme. The centre is located in Spanish Town.

The establishment of the cyber centre aims to expand and sure up the existing Youth Wellness Centre programme with specific emphasis on providing a more efficient and effective information technology training programme. The cyber centre will not only provide opportunities for youngsters to acquire computer skills, but will also incorporate entrepreneurial training for job placements and apprenticeship opportunities.

“We are grateful to NCB for their contribution, and are assured that this will be the beginning of a relationship that will seek to enhance the lives of our youngsters,” said Claudette Pious, executive director of Children First.

And said Wayne Hunter, branch manager, NCB St Jago: “The National Commercial Bank believes in building a better Jamaica and as a step in this direction, we continually find ways to improve the lives of our nation’s youth through educational and entrepreneurial opportunities.”

“NCB’s vision for this institution is to see results that will not only bring about change, but empower our youth to embrace excellence; a desire that should be naturally interwoven in the fabric of our society.”

A First For Children First In Jamaica

Children First, a Christian Aid partner in Jamaica, has won a Michael Manley award for its outstanding work with children and young people.

Children First received the prize at the Michael Manley Foundation Awards for Community Self-Reliance in August 2010. This commendation recognises our partner’s exemplary work in a challenging area of Jamaica, where gun violence is rampant.

Christian Aid supports its work with youths and vulnerable children through the Male Awareness Now (MAN) project. The MAN project…Jamaica has one of the highest murder rates in the world. 80% of victims are men between 18-35.

The MAN project was developed to help young men (aged 14-24), by offering them vocational skills, life skills training, male health forums, guidance, and community activities; and most importantly, an avenue away from drugs and guns. The project is based in the  heavily populated, yet severely under-developed urban area of Spanish Town – a region with lots of violent crime, poverty and hazardous child labour.

Travin Nichols story…After spending approximately two years in the MAN project, Travin is a changed young man. Once an angry teenager quick to use his fists, he now has concrete goals and a better relationship with his family. His introduction to the MAN project came from a Children First employee, who encouraged him to explore the training the programme offered.

‘Now I learn from the programme that if I ignore them, they leave me alone.’

Before he joined the MAN project, Travin had a strained relationship with his family and was turning to aggression as a problem-solver. In seventh grade, he experienced the usual spate of school yard tussles with other boys. However when one case became too much, and neither his teacher nor the principal could do anything to solve it, he took matters into his own hands.

‘Most times, I quarrel if people ah stress me out… In seven grade, I was rude, very rude.’

After his time in the project, Travin has learned how to communicate and that there are other ways to deal with stress and nagging little sisters. His goals and focus for his future have also changed. The programme has allowed Travin to recognise that his aggressive attitude toward classmates was unnecessary:

‘To me the programme is a very exciting… it allows the youths in the ghetto, in the areas that are violent, like in the gullies, to get a skill that is very useful…

‘I just use what they taught me, listen to what the teacher is saying, and don’t react to anybody, because none of them going to make you further your education, is what the teacher is teaching you.’

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