FOLLOWING UNITE THE PEOPLE FROM SCRATCH
“From Concept to Curtains” By Julian Smith
Following a stage show from concept to curtains can be very exciting and interesting. For the audience and patrons it allows for
greater appreciation for the hard work that sometimes go into organizing these events and its finish product. Or on the contrary it
provides the opportunity for the intended target audience to deliberate on the all the aspects of the show. A tell you what sometimes
this public audience deliberation can prove very useful to promoters who use this informal market research in determining the best
all round entertainment package to offer. For the organizers or promoters it can also be very stressful. A gamble where you can
either lose, break even, make a change or “bade”, “selloff” if you please. Most promoters are known for this line “bwouy mi just mek
a change”, then after the show they are no where to be found. Promoters sometimes testify that stage show presenting can be a
venture that deprives you of sleep. So when they cant be found after the show they are catching up on those zeeeez. Other would
argue that they are just busy counting and smiling.
In light of the K.O.K. (Kings of Kings) Anniversary coming up in November, the magnitude, and overwhelming success of the event
which took place last June 1, XNews has chosen the “Unite The People” stage show held at Cinema II as our “from concept to
curtains” following a stage show from scratch feature. Since it’s staging last year and Unite The People achieving the feat in bringing
to Kingston St. Andrew for the first time, the international mutil genre event no promoter have not been able to scratch the surface in
repeating such feat. Unite The People featured R&B heartthrob Mario fresh with ‘Let Me Love You’, Maxie Priest enjoying a local hit on
the drop leaf and seasons rhythms at the time. The return of Yami Bolo to local stage after some years and the sharing of the
limelight in a power played ‘I Am A Light’ featuring Colin Levy. Other artistes who appeared on the event speaking volumes to a well
put together entertainment package, underlined by a good cause, the donation of half a million dollar to the Victoria Jubilee Hospital
maternity ward and another half a million dollar to the Haile Sellassie High School. These include Richie Stephens, Richie Spice,
Bushman, Chrisinti representing for the singers of the day. Then there was Daddy Uroy, Freddy McGregor, Coco T, Ken Boothe tha old
school for ya. While Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Lady Saw, Bling Dawg, Wayne Marshall, Norris Man, Chuck Fenda, Anthony B,
Turbulance, Louie Culture represented a mixture of deejays dancehall and cultural. While former I-Threes songbird Judy Mowatt
represented for the Gospel lovers bringing together under one banner the genres of music that Unites The People.
Spawned from the birth of the label, the K.O.K. Records, later adding stage show promotion to their roster, it wouldn’t be long after
until visionary ceo of K.O.K. and long time singer Colin Levy added the birthday celebration of the label to his list of promotions. Stage
show promotions and tours which included all the big names and where marked calendar events world-wide. Unite the People which
incidentally was the name of Mr. Colin Levy better known as Iley Dread most recent album at time was first staged in Canada,
Ontario. Canada remained its home for some years as the Kings of Kings Anniversary until Mr. Levy tested the waters of the US when
K.O.K. anniversary celebrated with New Yorkers and visitors.
“The anniversary was always a set of our promotion events. Our anniversary you can imagine is closest to our heart, but basically
we just wanted to show our appreciation and share with the fans of my music and the singers on K.O.K. label and all who have
supported and continue to support good music. When we decided to bring the show to Jamaica from Canada it was because we
could not deny one more of the many many request we received, to bring the show home. ” Mr. Levy conceptualized. Mr. Levy
described how his music being inspiration of his daily life and his faith has guided some of his business decisions. “Unite The
People” my latest album was also a song that has lines in it which I am very serious about. Music unite the people/it makes them
dance and sing. This is what I wanted to achieve. Uniting the people”.
Selecting the Venue
This next step selecting the venue would obviously precede the choosing of a staging date. Why, because this would be the date that
the promoters would request the venue be reserved for. Now the selecting the date can be a non-negotiable agreement between two
primary parties. The promoter and “The Almighty”. Many have stood in the middle of the venue with waters to the ankle crying “why
lord why, why fall the rain now”. Others have carefully thought this factor into preparation as the single most important thing. Part
and parcel I would say, but clearly this should never be over looked. Unless you are staging a beach show so you know rain or fall
you good to go. One of the best staged Fully Loaded happened in the torrents and lightning. Mr. Levy explained that their next step in
selecting a venue and preparing a consensus entertainment package was all a carefully thought out concept. “We decided to use
the Mass Camp at first, but encountered some problems. This is common in the game. Sometimes you clash with another show date
and find that you have to secure some venues a year in advance and stuff like that” Mr. Levy explained. The K.O.K. stage show and
tour promoter explained that everything was a blessing in disguise and that when his team sat down again at their regular events
preparation meetings at their Sandringham Avenue Studio or via overseas call to Mr. Levy, their next choice was Cinema II.
“This was just the guidance from the father without our consent and as usual it was well done. The Cinema II venue and it neutral
location, clean and prestigious allowed us to bring together an audience that could unite and have fun as we pushed the borders of
fanfare and preference. Which was between R&B soul, Reggae, Gospel, and Dance Hall. Cinema II was also the venue that could
absorb not only a difference in fanfare by music preference but also age. What some people may not have realized that it was the
young and the old out that night. This was intentional and selecting a good venue helped us to achieve this. Another factor in
choosing a venue to host a show of this magnitude was the security, the ambiance, the geographic location and for our sponsors a
wonderful showcase for their product and or service”.
Selecting Our Entertainment Package
This can be a headache to say the least. It is a stress factor of promoting a stage show with the stress level effect able to cause a
stroke. No joke. For promoters who use, what they like to call, their life savings and sometimes some do (not really their life saving
but money they cant afford to lose) this can be like brushing a crocodiles teeth. Largely because of unprofessionalism that haunts
the industry. Sometimes an artiste is booked to appear on an event and a raise in the bid for them to appear elsewhere cause them
to be “no shows”. No shows any promoter can tell you can be catastrophic, alright maybe catastrophic is strong but I have been to
shows where no shows led to detruction of sound equipment, property, and injuries, “So you want to get things finalized and artistes
bounded by contract, but that is just the legal aspect.
Any promoter will tell you the same. Yet the one thing that has got to be finalized before promoting the event can begin is the
commitment to appear by the artistes” Mrs Margaret Seymour of Kings Of Kings made clear. The entertainment package clearly will
be the pulling power of the event, but how do you choose from so much that Jamaica and the world has to offer. Mr Levy who
contracted the expertise of stage show promotions specialist Sharon Burke, explained that being current and knowing what the
people are into can be usefull.
“Well first of all you cannot be selfish in making decisions it is good to consult consult and consult. Never just use your own opinions.
When we decided to bring in our international acts we took some time to think things over. At first we had our eyes on Mario because
his music was on the tongues of our young people and he had that “teenie bopper” pulling power. Fat Joe distracted us at one point
because he was also a popular choice. He proved to be hard to work with and so we opted for a mature and people loving Mario.
Bounty Killer, Beenie Man and our other choices of dance hall intended to draw out the youth also were current and promoters know
they carry a fanfare anywhere they go. While we catered for the more mature audience with the likes of Daddy Uroy, Coco T, Freddy
McGregor and Maxie Priest. In other words then our choice of entertainment catered to the young and the big people, And we did so
with R&B, Reggae, Dancehall hardcore and cultural and Gospel" Mr. Levy explained.
Another aspect of the entertainment package grossly disregarded or should I say unduely recognized are the bands and staging and
lighting. Sometimes even the stage manager is the target of a slue of harsh criticism yet never remembered when the show is a
success. If something goes wrong on stage though. “His head I want his head”. Well something like that. Stage manager has been
blamed for Beenie Man and Bounty Killer clashes, Kartel Ninjaman Clash even Supercat and his hurling of a bottle into the crowd at
Sting 1990 after a clash between he and Ninja. Any way unless the music or rhythms of the event is backed by tracks then only a
performance with the mime Charlie Chaplin then the bands would not be missed. In fact one of the best nights ever staged, and this
is my opinion, at Reggae Sumfest happened to be their stricken Bands Night. The band happens to be the vehicle that transports a
good performance. As a matter of fact the best performance ever witnessed by the greatest Reggae icon Bob Marley and the
Wailers could not have been achieved without the dexterity of a great band the Wailers. So lets give it up for the “the band”. And
when it comes to the contribution of staging and lighting at a stage show just think about the international appeal of our events if they
were all staged on drum or a piece of plie mounted on blocks and a bright bulb hoisted on a stick. Staging and lighting inarguably
animates that stardom and fame, glamour and glitter that comes with being who these performers are.
Getting Sponsors and Initiate Promoting
The Unite the People stage show was sponsored by Fame FM, CVM TV, Irie FM, XNews, Sony Music, Phat Farm, VP Records among
others. Now every promoter knows that it is in their best interest to cut all expenses at all cost. Well something like that. What this
means is that in order to get the greatest returns to maximize profit by using the least, without short changing the vision, one must
seek help!! This is where the sponsors come in.
“Well you might know the red tape we encountered when we began seeking sponsorship for Unite The People. Even though we had
an excellent package, an advertisers dream we still had trouble getting sponsors. Mainly because we decided that we would not join
the alliance of sponsors who took a position not to sponsor any show that had certain deejays on it. It so happened that we had two
of those banned artistes and we stood with them. When I say the Cinema II was an advertiser’s dream I mean the venue was a huge
showcase for their sponsor tag and products able to be viewed by a wide cross section of Jamaicans and visitors” Mr. Levy
explained. Not only are the sponsors on display at the venue but guided by a contract between sponsors and promoters the
promoters are bounded to carry sponsor tags and or lines in all advertising and promotion of the event on electronic and print media.
You ever hear the saying “its not the show you bill is the way you promote it”. Neither have I but this is the basis of my next argument.
Some promoters spend more on promoting/advertising the event than on the entertainment package itself. Others do the opposite
and hope that the event will sell it self. Sometimes this work sometimes it don’t. “The best thing to do is to promote the event as best
as you can. They say the best means of promoting and event is word of mouth. Some of the ways promoters advertise their events
are commercials, billboards, posters, radio, newspaper and television ads. Yet from time immemorial the use of sound systems to
broadcast the who, where, what and when of an upcoming stage show or dance especially at the happening spots was done over
the mic. The word would spread from there. “We were also on the air of prime time radio stations and programs and in hand with
these promotions we had our official launch at the Pegasus Hotel where the viewing of a documentary on the Kings of Kings was
On The Day and Night Of The Event
So now it’s the day of the event and suddenly the bewilderment of where the three, four months ago, when preliminary preparations
began has gone to, hits promoters. “You wonder if everything is in place, will you get good whether, where are the bits of papers with
contact numbers of the sound system, the bands, the liquor truck, the stage and lighting people, heck you might even be looking for
your own number among those bits of paper. Some say as big as they are they still get nervous.
“It is natural to be concerned and this will show but once you are organized you just follow your game plan. There may be times when
the unavoidable will happen and you have to think on your toes but all this means is that you improvise. The thing is to make sure
your team of people are ready. On the morning of Unite The People the way we intended to direct the stage would have accounted for
a significant loss because it was directed straight towards a roof top lounge known to pull a weekend crowd. We decided to block
the view and still was able to keep the ambiance of the venue. We had to personally cut the shrubs and clean the venue. We made
sure all roads had bills leading to the venue and the rest is history” Mr. Colin Levy stage-show/tour promoter/singer and ceo of K.O.K.
(Kings of Kings) Records surmised. Everything went as planned, every aspect of the event was delivered. Every entertainer was at
their all time best with one gliche the appearance of Beenieman on Bounty Killer set. To make light of the incident Beenieman would
probably turn up if “God” called Bounty and say something like “tru mi hear the B mitink a beenie”. Everything was great Mario
stunned, Maxie Priest grooved, Freddy McGregor rocked, Colin ‘Iley Dread’ Levy energized and Louie Culture among others blew
them away. As promised Mr. Levy made good his underlined “good cause” for staging the event and presented at the Pegasus Hotel
to Doctor Douglas of the Victoria Jubilee and Mrs Bennett of the Haile Selassie High School each with $500,000. The Victoria Jubilee
hospital spent the donation on equipments that enhanced their services in the maternity ward. “We chose the hospital and the
school because of what they symbolized. The beginning and birth of our people and the education the tool to survive”.
The Kings Of Kings Anniversary Celebration
Kings of Kings' CEO Colin Levy presenting the Chief Medical Officer of the
Victoria Jubliee Hospital with a cheque for half a million dollars
June 4, 2005 marked the staging of Kings of Kings (K.O.K.)10th anniversary Unite The
People concert. Cinema II New Kingston enjoyed wow performances and witnessed from
both local and international acts career marks. Deliveries from R&B Mario, folk and grass
roots Louie Culture, acclaimed Maxie Priest, Iley Dread, Freddy McGregor, Beenie Man to
name a few that shun in Cinema Two June 1 2005. A night where three major genres of
black music came together for a worthy and honorable cause. Donating half a million
dollars to the Victoria Jubilee hospital and half to the Haile Selassie I High School. And
honorable because it also represented the 11th Anniversary of the Kings Of Kings
On March 31, 2007 Kings of Kings in Association with New Creation Records presented the 12th Annual Unite The People Showcase,
which was held at the Montpelier Lawn, St. James, Jamaica.. The show featured Daddy Uroy “The Teacher”, Maxie Priest, Ken
Boothe, Freddy McGregor, Beenieman, D'Angel, Lady Saw, Vybz Kartel, Jimmy Riley, Taurus Riley, Professor Nuts, Iley Dread,
Chrisinti, One Third, Ninja Man, Anthony B, Shaggy, Luciano, Capleton, Marcia Griffiths, Singer J, Floyd West, 'the Ole Gangalee' -
Louie Culture, Radikal, Nanko, Delly Ranks, To-Isis, Ras Myrdhak, Mackie Conscious, Nature, Natural Blacks, Geoffrey Star, Papa
Lova,Orthodox Issachar, Izeezi, Joseph Israel, Lutan Fyah, Hero, Jah Cutter, Ginjah and Lyme Murray. Also joining this star studded
line up was crossover R&B/Caribbean flava diva Ms Triniti, among the International acts. All in one concerted effort to raise funds to
assist the Chester Castle All Age and Bickersteth Primary and Infant Schools. The sponsors of the show were Topline
Entertainment, Hype Energy Drink, Sounds City, Yard Flex.com, Bowlas Car Rental, Bobby Digital Recording, Big Ship, Links FM, Star
Trail, Ras Water, Pegasus Hotel and Kaboom.
Iley Dread Blasted Away GT Taylor Extravaganza
Colin Levy aka Iley Dread performed on the Gt Taylor Magnum Reggae Extravaganza in Independence Park Black River, St. Elizabeth
on Monday, Christmas Day, 2006. Iley Dread supported by Geoffery Star and back up singers and with rod in hand led the
Independence Park through songs like 'Clean Up', 'Reward', a brand new radio hit and pro-marijuana song 'West Best' and all time
favorite 'I Am A Light' to much delight from his fans. The star cast event also featured Sean Paul, Shaggy, Ninja Man, Capleton among
others. The Colin 'Iley Dread' Levy led Kings Of Kings also co sponsored the event.
CHEERFUL RHYTHM STILL BUBBLING INTO 2007 - By Thirteen
Producer Rohan Jah Snow Cone Fuller is still on the note he left 2006 with, the second month in 2007, a cheerful one. “We can make
the music business better, we as producers and artistes. There is too much guns and violence in the dancehall and in our music. We
can't reach anywhere like that, is too much darkness” Snow challenges against musical rifles waving and sporadic gunshots ringing
out on rhythm tracks and in the streets. Snow released the Cheerful rhythm early Summer and the to date few dance hall tracks have
enjoyed such longevity. “We just have to do our part, some people don’t do anything for dancehall, a dancehall do everything for
them” Snow said. Since the rhythm was released, there has been a happy time in productions with some producers following suit.
Cheerful which carries several big names including Spragga, Wyclef Jean, Red Rat, Natural Black and Bridgez is now entering into a
new realm. The hit effect that Snow Cone and his Victory Syndicate team realized in Sean Paul’s Billboard ‘Temperature’ hit on the
producer/songwriter’s Applause rhythm is about to be tried again. “Yes we have recorded Wyclef Jean, Wayne Wonder with ‘Hotter
Than Fire’ and we are in the process of recording Sean Paul again” Snow said. Agreeing that it was too soon to make a prediction on
the reach of these new singles recorded on the Cheerful as the rhythm continues to bubble, Snow made some serious assertion as
to the direction of our music. “We have to try different ways and means of getting our music out there. The thing is we have to make
our music more happy and friendly, this is what people love. ‘Gi Mi The Light’, ‘Temperature’, ‘Welcome To Jamrock’ even though it
was hardcore it still was penned in a way that tourist could still want to come here even more, Nina Sky on Skatta rhythm, all these
were happy songs, fun songs, party songs, this is what people want, too much killing in a music a kill music” Snow concluded.
Presently the producer is in New York tightening up some works on the cheerful and music videos from Cheerful transported singles
from deejays Red Rat and Spragga are expected soon.
WYCLEF JEAN GIVES PRAISES ON THE PEACE AND LOVE RHYTHM
Titled ‘Emmanuel’, Haitian born rapper, former Refugees hip hop group leader Wyclef Jean delivered a soulful rendition on the Jah
Snow Cone label and Peace and Love rhythm. It wouldn’t be the first time the acclaimed rapper has recorded for producer Rohan
‘Jah Snow Cone’ Fuller, who has armed some of Jamaica’s top deejays with hits after hits from Bounty Killer to Sean Paul. Jah Snow
Cone has bragging rights on this bring back the one drop ‘Peace And Love’. Some other tracks included on the Peace And Love are
Nadine Sutherland ‘Jah Is My Light’, ‘U Me Love’ by Tamone, new voice Bridgez with ‘Best Friend’, big guns Spragga with ‘Every Little
Thing U Do’ and Natural Black with ‘Dig Up Mi Place’.
Iley Dred, Turbulence and Geoffrey Star teams up for ‘Good News’
The international perspective Colin Levy aka Iley Dread and the energetic Turbulence and singer Geoffrey Star teamed up to bring to
their fans another energetic production that reminds of the sweeping ‘Clean Up’ with Iley Dread, Norris Man and Chrisinti. Entitled
“Good News’ the single almost rivals two year old release ‘I Am A Light’ which featured Yami Bolo, in crooning energy. The Iley Dread
and Geoffrey Star winning combination accounted for that, while Turbulence gave his hard-core fire delivery. The single was
produced by veteran producer Bobby Digital and singer Geoffrey Star. While the executive producer is Colin Levy on the Kings of
In the meantime Coilin Iley Dread Levy has been in studio for months working with various producers on his third album entitled ‘The
Living Truth’ which is officially scheduled for release in the Spring of 2007. By all indication ‘The Living Truth’ is said to be Iley Dread’
s strongest production yet as a recording artiste. Two singles along with accompanying videos are set for a Fall release. The first,
on the Hard Drive label is ‘Good News’ and features Turbulance and Geoffrey Star. The second ‘Go So Badda Badda’ is produced by
Mighty Mike and will be released on the Digital B label.
NEW BEGINNING'S JOINT V ENTURE WITH K.O.K.
After breaking on the music scene with a riveting one drop rhythm dubbed New Beginning, named after the Record label, the Troy
Vaccianna and Phillip Smart led camp has announced that they have merged with the almost household synonymous Kings of Kings
“We have just merged with Kings of Kings. New Beginning has always held Colin Levy and the Kings of Kings Recording in high
esteem. I think we both share the same sentiments, goals and respect for production of good quality music. We have and will
continue to work with the artiste associated with that label” Mr. Vaccianna said. New Beginning currently bask in the growing
popularity of its rhythm whose title track was done by Chrisinti. According to Mr. Colin Levy the move to ally the two labels comes
with much enthusiasm on his part as he has found the directors of the New Beginning label to be of the utmost integrity and
professional when it comes to their productions. “We are on the same path to put out music that can be enjoyed by the entire family”
Mr. Levy commented. The merger should witness the pulling of all stops when it comes to recording, distribution and promotion of
the music that comes out of the joint labels.
The New Beginning rhythm currently carries recordings from Colin ‘Iley Dread’ Levy with his social topic 'World Crisis' while
addressing the root and its effects locally and internationally. The rhythm is currently being animated by a music video medley
comprising of some of the artiste on the rhythm. These also include Basom X with ‘Longing’, Jah Mason with ‘Don’t Know The
Minute’, Turbulance’s ‘Live Upright’ Sasha’s ‘Fat Black Woman’, Kerry’s ‘My Baby’ among others.