BY SARA MILLER
In a male dominated genre where woman make up a small community, limited attention is given to the female voice in reggae music, especially on Canadian soil. However, a bright spotlight is about to shine on a group of women who are fighting to change that statistic with the 2016 Reggae Diva’s Showcase presented by Renascence Entertainment.
In its second year, Reggae Diva’s showcased the talents of Canadian female reggae artists Ammoye, Ms. Paige, Chatta, Tasha T, Nadera, Empress Minott, Alicia Anderson and Chelsea Stewart. President and CEO of Renascence Entertainment, Aretha Cooper also performed under her stage name Avetha. Hosted by Toronto based comedian Maliaka Bryce, the night was spectacular from beginning to end. While DJ Selectres provided attendees with a great selection of reggae beats and tunes, the talented five-piece Caribbean ensemble, The Revolutionaries brought dynamic rhythm and sound to the show that made you feel like you were back on the islands.
First on the stage to preform was two time Juno nominee, Ammoye. Born in Halse Hall, Clarendon, the Jamaican-Canadian who has shared the stage with the likes of reggae legends such as Beres Hammond, Ziggy Marlon, Beenie Man, Gyptian and Richie Spice, completely blew the audience away with her powerhouse vocals singing her song “Sorry” and “Shooting”, a song that addresses the prevalence of gun violence in black/Caribbean communities. Also performing on stage was Ms. Paige, daughter of R&B recording artist and six time Juno nominee, Debbie Johnson. Ms. Paige sang her song titled “Old School Love,” which was a complete throwback to classic R&B songs with a touch of Caribbean flair.
But the highlight performance of the night belonged to dancehall artist Chatta, who came full force with her booming voice and lyrics. Born and raised in Toronto by Jamaican parents, Chatta has been preforming for audiences since she was fourteen. In 2004, she released her first EP album “Speed of Consciousness” which skyrocketed to number one on Roots Radio in Kingston, Jamaica. Since then, she has been the recipient of several awards including the Top Dancehall Female Artist award at the Canadian Reggae Achievement Awards in 2008. Donning a Michael Jackson-esque military jacket and black shades, Chatta and her crew of male dancers drew a roaring round of applause from the audience. For the rest of the night, the atmosphere inside the Jamaican Canadian Association Centre was upbeat as Tasha T, Empress Minott, Nadera, Alicia Anderson, Avetha and Chelsea Stewart also took to the stage.
As an artist herself, Aretha Cooper created the event last year to highlight and give credit to female reggae artists, who often get overlooked in favor of male artists as well as receiving less air-play of their songs on the radio. By creating the Reggae Divas event, Cooper hopes that female artists not only continue to pursue their passion in reggae music but also give producers and promoters insight to the incredible talent that Canada has to offer. Her advice to new artists on the scene is an inspirational one: work hard, stay humble and never give up.
“For all female artists up and coming know first your gift is precious, given to you by our Heavenly Father the Creator of all things, so work hard on perfecting it. Write songs and do something that is an inspiration to our younger generation who are our future in music,” she said.
“Stay humble as you grow into being a veteran female artist and let no stage or person be too small for you to be the light or start a new era, the new generation for women in Reggae music.”