Reggae Sumfest Kicks Off In New York



Dozens packed in to a New York City restaurant Wednesday night as the sixteenth annual Reggae Sumfest festival kicked-off officially in the Big Apple.

Among those welcoming the Summerfest Production team to New York was new Jamaican Counsel General to New York, Genieve Brown Metzer; and New York Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs, Guillermo Linares, who presented a message from New York City Mayor, Mike Bloomberg.

Emcee Irwine Clare then introduced SummerFest Productions Executive Director Johnny Gourzong to the throng of media practitioners, sponsors, Caribbean community leaders and supporters. Gourzong for his part revealed the 2008 line-up, which will include reggae's John Holt, Beres Hammond, roots' singer Anthony B, Richie Spice, Queen Ifrica, Jah Cure, Tarus Riley and Etana and dancehall's Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Voice Mail, Macka Diamond, Vybz Kartel, Harry Toddler, Busy Signal, Wayne Marshall and Mavado. Additionally, Gourzong revealed that negotiations are underway for Keisha Cole, Akon or Chris Brown to perform at the event, set for July 13-19 in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Jamaica's Tourism Minister, Ed Bartlett, dubbed the festival the 'premier reggae festival' of Jamaica and lauded the Summerfest team and the many sponsors who continue to promote the event. "Reggae Sumfest is not just an event, it's an experience. This event has brought more than 5,000 visitors to Jamaica and we found that there are people there who end up staying a little longer...and they end up making the community a little richer," said Minister Bartlett.

Ms. Joan Flowers, state Democratic committeewoman, and a representative from Senator Malcolm Smith's Office, joined former Deputy Brooklyn Borough President, Yvonne Graham, in presenting an official proclamation to Chair of Summerfest Productions, Robert Russell and Johnny Gourzong while Austin McBean of the International Reggae And World Music Awards, officially presented two awards to the Summerfest executives. The awards were won at this year's event, which was held at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, in May.

Meanwhile, among top guests at the event were other officials of Summfest Productions, Geodfrey Dwyer and Howard Thompson, the Jamaica Tourist Board's Deputy Jamaica Directors of Tourism, Donald Dawon and David Shields; Jamaica Tourism Director, Basil Smith; Carole Guntley, Chris Dawson of the Jamaica Tourist Board; Director General, Ministry of Industry & Tourism; St. Kitts Tourism Director to NY, Robert Kelly; Ruder Finn's Gale Moaney, Helen Ames and Lyndon Taylor; JIS NY, Aubrey Campbell; BET's Ray Goulbourne; VP Records, Randy and Chris Chin as well as Christy Barber; Lance Ogiste of the Brooklyn DA's office; Western Union's Garfield Comrie; Borokeete's Anthony Pollydore; Cbean Media's Sherra Pierre Marche; and Trinidad-born socialite, Hazra Ali.

Reggae Sumfest has been presented consecutively since its launch in 1993 by Summer Fest Productions. It is now known across the globe as the reggae event of the summer and attracts thousands annually from the U.S., UK, Canada, Europe, South and Central America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and neighboring Caribbean islands. Reggae Sumfest is by far the most successful event on the entertainment calendar in Jamaica and recently earned 'Promoter of the Year' and 'Concert of the Year' at the 27th Annual International Reggae and World Music Awards on May 4.

The festival has been able to attract top sponsors because of its high quality entertainment product that showcases Jamaica's abundant reggae talents while leveraging the Jamaica brand and affirming its role as a truly Jamaican product; contributing to the economy of Jamaica by attracting as many as 5,000 visitors to the event and some US$5 million in revenue to the island`s tourism economy.

Since its inception the company's motto has been "Promoting Music, the Universal Force." International acts have been successfully incorporated into the line up, namely Mary J. Blige, Destiny's Child, Alicia Keys, Kanye West, Ludacris, Lionel Richie, Missy Elliott, 50 Cent & G-Unit, Jay-Z, Akon, Ja Rule, Fantassia Barrino, Rihanna, Ashanti, Snoop Dogg, Boyz II Men, K-Ci & JoJo, Dru Hill, Wyclef Jean, Joe, Blu Cantrell, the Temptations, and LL Cool J. The event has over the last eleven years developed a reputation of being the first to bring a number of hot current artistes to Jamaica, having brought Alicia Keys, Kanye West, Akon and Rihanna prior to their meteoric success in snatching several awards.