Today, Monday May 8th is International Women's Day and for some enthused and generous patrons in the courtyard of Star Apples Restaurant in Kingston Jamaica it could not have started on a more positive note. They were attending WOMANBITION: Word, Sound Power-It’s a Mission”, a concert organized by influential women in Jamaican entertainment with proceeds going to two well-deserved charities. As guests mingled, sat in the yard sampling the delicious fare from Star Apple or sauntered over to the bar, they were kept entertained by Tricia Spence AKA ZJ Sparks (Naw wah, I mean--lol) of Zip FM.

Tricia "ZJ Sparks" Spence

Ayeola and Nelly Stharre

The night’s event was for a serious cause and Ms. Enid Courtney took the stage to speak about the contributions that the U.N.I.A nurses Corp has been making throughout communities on the island such as performing routine blood pressure checks; and offering alternative forms of medicine such as yoga and reflexology. “The wealth of a nation depends on the health of a nation,” said Ms. Courtney. Sentiments echoed by the capacity crowd. Ms. Nadia Williams of Mary’s Child took the stand to speak about the pregnant girls that are under her stewardship. At the Kingston location, there are 8 babies with 4 on the way, while in Montego Bay there are 2 with 4 on the way as well. The girls at the facilities range in age from 12-18 and are victims of rape, incest and or carnal abuse. The girls learn skills in the various centers at the facility: IT, cosmetology, home economics and sewing.

Jessica Yap and Etana

The first performance I saw was Jessica Yap who played “Don’t Worry” by Bob Marley and “Wrong Address” by Etana. The songstress, popularly known as “The Strong One’ was visibly moved and shared her sentiments with Jessica. After that instrumental performance came some of Jamaica’s top female vocalists, who shared stories of strength and inspiration with the crowd, with special focus on the girls from Mary’s House. Mary Isaacs performed “Don't Stay Away” by the Skatalites while serenading a very bashful guest on stage. For her encore performance she gave the crowd a taste of Bob Marley's "Nice Time". Keteis Ayunde started off with Miriam Makeba's "Pata Pata" her second song "In The Name of Life" was dedicated to the memory of her nephew who died from Leukemia. A moment of silence was observed in honor of the life of Ras Junior Manning, Chairman of the Ethio-African Diaspora Millennium Union Council, who passed earlier in the day.


The multi-talented, host, TV personality and entrepreneur Empress performed some original renditions. She has the most beautiful skin-flawless! Alaine started off her set with “Rise In Love”she also advised the young ladies to get their education as that is something that can never be taken away. She also sang ”Deeper”and an acapella rendition of "The Lords’ Prayer" before closing with "No Ordinary Love”.

Perched on a chair with guitar in hand, Etana sang "Wrong Address" and wow does the crowd love her, they were singing word for word. "Roots" and ”I am Not Afraid” were well received as well. She got the enthusiastic crowd to repeat: ”independent,” “powerful,” ”mi love miself," "real wit it”-definitly capitalizing on the evening's theme. But the most poignant moment of the evening came when she sang her latest song "Free." Etana became so overcome with emotion, she had to turn her back to the crowd. For a moment she could not speak. She eventually told the encouraging crowd that she touched one of the girls and felt nothing-that she was empty. Speaking to the young girls from Mary’s House, Etana said that she wished she could give them her strength, but she gives them her music, her prayers. She said her tears were falling into the earth, going to place that are untouchable. She encouraged these children to believe in their prayers and that the Most High loves them "Just the same.” She told them that everything in Earth is theirs "You no have to sell your soul, sell your heart, sleep wit no body, beat nobody. You going to get it. Some don’t know what to do with it and they think they are better than others. Never you do it. God will take it away. Bad mindedness will bring you into the earth, Mother earth will swallow you. She cited the recent earthquakes around the earth and the unusually cold weather as signs from mother earth. "Everything is possible if you believe it." She finished her song.

When she got on stage Tanya Stephens stated that “Etana take way mi legs dem” referring to the preceding performance. “Mek Dem Talk" was her first song. She also sang a song written for people with HIV called “I’m Still Alive” and implored persons to work together to solve the problem from wherever they were. Now Tanya is known for some tongue-in-cheek lyrics and I think she effortlessly lightened the mood. With songs like “Home Alone (What Would You Do) she said you might have to promise a man bun if he's not attentive to your needs. Like children, if something doesn't work one has to try new methods, don't? Well ladies Tanya says in same way "Your manh ah yuh child so you have fi raise him, right." LOL . She sang favorites like "These Streets" and "It's A Pity" accompanied by the receptive crowd. I love how Tanya Stephens can say things that are so unconventional with a sweet smile and we just cyaan mad at her for that. Like when she jokingly stated how selfish it is of the woman who "finds one good man in a 100 mile radius and doh waan fi share: You wretch!" Oh Tanya how we love you, and your take on relationships.

Gotta give props to D'Angel who interacted with the girls from Mary's home who walked her onto the stage, and even did some impromptu dancing to her song "Blaze." Lady G wrapped up the night's performances with "Breeze Off" and "Nuff Respect"

Earlier performances came from Jah 9, Kai Wakling, Sharon Tucker, Sajoya, Nelly Stharre, and poet Natural Cherry

Though they did not take the stage other female entertainers and personalities such as Una Morgan, Barbee, Kim-Marie Spence and Dr. Carolyn Cooper were present and accounted for. And the men lent their support as well. Photographer Alty Benjamin Jr, singer Protoje, and Charles Campbell Chairman of Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JARIA)-who visited to the stage on more than one occasion to drop money, were observed enjoying the performances.

Alty Benjamin Jr. and Kim-Marie Spence

I was definitely pleased that I attended this very worthwhile event. Kudos to the organisers Denise "Isis" Miller (who was the night's MC), Keteis, Nadia Stanley, Empress and Nelly Stharre. All artists performed free of charge. ZJ Sparks and ZJ Elektra as well as the all female security lent their services for free as well.

Sponsors for the event included: Calabash Heights International, Nature's Eyes, Rassis International, Pleasuremakers Sound & Equipment, Livity Veggie Meals, Stanley and empress Boutique, Star Apple Restaurant, Simiyah House, Mekyah Water, King Alarm, SecurePro Security and Sling Shot Productions (lighting)

Enjoy the clip of the performances and scenes!

2010 International Women's Day theme is "Equal rights equal opportunity progress for all". For more information click HERE!

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