Sunday, July 3, 2022


Nine Night for Tabby Diamond

By Shelah Moody

     The following tribute is called “Nine Night for Tabby Diamond.” Tabby’s daughter, Josheina Shaw, asked me to give tribute to the lead singer of the Mighty Diamonds, my longtime friend and client, at his Celebration of Life tribute at Ranny Williams Event Center on May 20, 2022 in Kingston, JA.

       On March 29, Donald Orlando “Tabby Diamond” Shaw, 67, was shot and killed outside his home in Kingston. At press time, Shaw’s killers have not been caught. In a cruel twist of fate, another member of the soulful reggae harmony trio known for hits such as “Shame and Pride,” “Pass the Kutchie ” and “I Need a Roof”—  Fitzroy “Bunny Diamond” Simpson, died after a long illness on April 1. Simpson was 70. Lloyd “Judge” Ferguson, the remaining member of the Mighty Diamonds, wrote 95 percent of their songs and is the keeper of the group’s legacy.

*In the Caribbean, a nine night celebration is similar to a second line tribute in New Orleans. Loved ones of the deceased gather to pay tribute with food and drink, music and stories of the beloved. 

     My name is Rani Shelah Moody and I’m a journalist and music historian. For several years, I’ve worked for the Mighty Diamonds as a publicist and assistant. 

     I first met Tabby in the summer of 1995 when the Mighty Diamonds  performed at the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival.  

     I saw Tabby sitting at a table by himself backstage. I called him over to the table where I was sitting with my friends and asked if I could interview him for Reggae Report magazine. Tabby called Bunny over and asked him to do the interview with the nice lady. Then, he pulled down his shades, put his feet up and listened while Bunny and I talked. 

     I told Tabby that I’d seen the Mighty Diamonds perform earlier that year at Slim’s nightclub in San Francisco, and I thought his voice was amazing!

    “Yeah mon, give thanks, he said.

      Tabby was so humble! 

      After the Sierra Nevada show, we all sat at the table talking and laughing well into the night. 

   Tabby had that it factor.

      You know that scene in Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” video where he passes a homeless man on the street, tosses a coin in his cup and  transforms his ragged clothes into a fine suit? Well, such was the magic of Tabby Diamond.    

       With his ebullient gap tooth smile and warm personality, Tabby could turn a gloomy day or an average day into an extraordinary day. Even Ziggy Marley looked at him and said “My heart is full” when I took the Mighty Diamonds to Tuff Gong studios in Los Angeles in 2019.

      I met Tabby at one of the lowest points in my life. The year 1995 was a dark season for me. My grandmother died, then my dad died of a drug overdose. I was broke. Depressed. I 

struggled with self worth.

     Tabby’s  recordings, live shows and personal words of encouragement lifted me up and gave me the strength and courage to trod on.  

    Tabby was kind. I remember telling Tabby that I felt alone in the world when my father died. Tabby told me that I was not alone because the father, God, was always with me. 

      Soon, the Mighty Diamonds became my favorite group. I bought all their music and went to all their shows and interviewed them whenever they came to town. I told everyone I knew about the magic and the soul of Tabby and the Mighty Diamonds. 

      I wrote about and reported on the Mighty Diamonds so much that the group soon asked me to be a part of their public relations team. In 2007, I went on tour with them for the first time to see what it was like.

     That’s when I really got to know Tabby, Bunny and Judge.  You can read about our adventures on my social media pages. We traveled in busses and vans that sometimes lost their air conditioning in the summer and their heat in winter. Once,  I offered to do the band’s laundry on one of the stops in Texas. Imagine my shock when I discovered I’d accidentally thrown in a red shirt in the washer and turned all the clothing pink!

      Tabby was a consummate professional.

      I remember, one night in Seattle, Tabby came down with a bad cold. We knew something was wrong because he was very quiet, and coughing heavily. He had a fever. He was wrapped in a blanket in the back of the bus. I was worried about his health; it was snowing in Seattle and he seemed to have only a light jacket.

    I told the tour manager; I think the lead singer is sick… maybe he shouldn’t go on stage. He can barely talk.  

       “Don’t worry about it,” the  tour manager said.  “Tabby will let us know if he’s too sick to perform.”

      Sure enough, Tabby went on stage. He did not want to disappoint Bunny and Judge or his fans. Perhaps only I could tell he was not feeling well. Though his lungs were congested and his body ached; he sang through the pain. “Party Time.” “ Poor Marcus.” “ Have Mercy.”

     Then, it was time for his signature song. “I Need A Roof.”  I held onto my seat. Tabby reached for that one perfect note. You know it. 

     You know the high note that Phillip Bailey sings on the refrain of Earth Wind and Fire’s “Reasons?” That one crystal note Russell Thompkins  Junior of the Stylistics sings on the chorus of “Betcha By Golly Wow?”

        Tabby reached for the note, but his voice did not peak; it crescendo, then plateaued and then beautifully flowed into the next verse. I exhaled. I was awestruck! That’s when I knew Tabby was one of the most skilled voices in the industry. Perfection. Tabby knew what soul was all about. I dubbed him the master of melody.

          More than anything, Tabby valued family and community. On the road; Tabby would tell stories about Fanny and children  and grandchildren and the folks in his community in Kingston. At the end of each tour, he’d load up at Target and other stores with gifts to take home to his family. Once he had me help him look for a christening gown for his new granddaughter. Tabby loved to cook on the road  and watch videos and smoke and laugh with his Jamaican and American brethren on the tour. 

      Tabby told me that one of his fondest memories growing up was eating sugar cane with his father in the moonlight, 

    On Feb. 1, to celebrate my birthday and the birthdays of vocalists Pam Hall and Rica Newell; I hired Tabby and Judge to sing at our virtual Zoom party.

Tabby’s beloved daughter Josheina helped  her father log on to the Zoom link. It was the best birthday ever. Tabby and Judge sang for us and told stories. The whole day, we were  calling and texting each other saying how uplifted Tabby and Judge made us feel. 

     The Zoom was so successful that I had the idea to pay Tabby for private Zoom voice lessons. Wouldn’t that had been grand? The Mighty Diamonds had many projects in the works, including a new album and a gig with Ziggy Marley in the Dominican Republic. 

    Here’s the thing about losing our friends. We can only hope that when they leave us, we become better people because of the lessons they taught us. As the saying goes, Diamonds are forever.  Tabby, I will miss you in this earthly  realm, but your beautiful presence still lingers; it’s reflected in your music, your family and your community. 

      Donald Orlando, Tabby Diamond Shaw, OD, I will always lift you up!

Related links: Celebration of life for Fitzroy “Bunny Diamond” Simpson:

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

On the Road with Kristine Alicia: Conscious Reggae Artist Rebuilds After Husband’s Death

 On the Road with
Kristine Alicia: Conscious Reggae Artist Rebuilds After Husband’s Death

By Shelah Moody


   March, 2022 was monumental for women in reggae. After a series of technical difficulties, Streetwise Radio is back up and finally able to run these blogs.

       Multiple Grammy winner Stephen Marley released a reggae tribute to icon Nina Simone, featuring notable female artists such as  Queen Ifrica, Cedella Marley and Etana, and Etana and dancehall star Spice prepared to attend the 2022 Grammy ceremony as nominees. Dancehall star Shensea released her debut album, “ Alpha,” and Koffee, the first woman to receive a Grammy in the Best Reggae Album category in 2020, released her sophomore album, “Gifted.”

       Enter conscious singer Kristine Alicia. Although she’s an indie artist who’s not yet signed to a big label, her voice is just as powerful. A former gospel singer, Kristine is currently making waves on the roots reggae circuit with her new single and video, “Hold Strong.”

     To watch the full interview with Kristine Alicia, go to:

          Streetwise Radio: Where are you from and where did you grow up?

Kristine Alicia:  I was born in New Kingston, if anybody knows Trafalgar Park near Arden High School. I went to a private Christian school called Covenant Christian Academy. My dad was a music teacher and a pastor and my mom was a school teacher and she also taught at the school I went to. I studied a lot in books but my dad really taught me music; he’s the one who got me into playing the piano and groomed me in classical music, and of course, church music. 

I spent my teenage years in south Florida. I spent most of my adult years in Florida. I recently moved to Houston, Tx. 

Streetwise Radio: Talk about your role as a music teacher in Houston.

Kristine Alicia: I teach elementary to students in the Houston region. I’ve also taught in the schools in Florida. It’s a lot of fun; I’ve been doing it for nine years. I teach ukulele, xylophone, boomwhackers, handbells, music theory and performance. It’s my joy, my love. I also have one- on-one lessons teaching voice and piano. 

Streetwise Radio: Tell us about some of the women who influenced you.

Kristine Alicia: My mother, because of her strength and determination. I’ve seen her rising up as a strong woman despite how people have looked at her. She’s always a pioneer; always going into new ventures. Her heart is education.  Musically, I would say Sade and Marcia Griffiths. To me, those two singing  icons have always  represented  class and longevity. They were able to demonstrate their musical skills without selling out anything. I respect them.

Streetwise Radio:  What were some of the challenges that you faced in the age of COVID-19?

Kristine Alicia: Where some saw the lack of getting gigs during this time,  I used it to focus on writing and recording music. When we were told to stay home and I had to teach online; it gave me the opportunity to take care of my husband, who was fighting cancer. That was a blessing, I’m not gonna lie. It also taught me to look within myself and gain strength. 

Streetwise Radio: Have you written and dedicated any of your songs to your husband?

Kristine Alicia: “Black Diamond'' is a song that really represents how I was pushing through that time  and I think that other people can relate to coming out as a black diamond because of the struggles that push against you. You know, the symbolism. And then there’s a song called “Eternity,” that came out as well during that time period. It forced me to look at how we view the afterlife and what peace is truly about.  Given that my husband was fighting for his life; it led me to realize that the present is more important than focusing on the things that we are not sure of and what’s going to happen and focusing on the time that we have with our loved ones. 

Streetwise Radio: How does your gospel background influence your current music?

Kristine Alicia: Having a gospel background helps  my writing to always have a message of love and inspiration and reliance on a higher power. Conscious reggae, to me, is all about being inspirational and giving a positive message. The messages of my music still circle around giving hope and sending positive messages to light the darkness. 

Streetwise Radio: What projects are you currently working on?

Kristine Alicia: I just released the single and video  “Hold Strong”  and am about to release a few more singles and begin preparing for an EP. You can find my music on ITunes and Spotify. I have my own YouTube channel, where all my videos are featured. I love making videos; I’m blessed to work with good videographers who can match the videos with the song. 

Streetwise Radio: Tell us about your work with renown reggae and dancehall producers Rory Stone Love and Mikey Bennett.

Rory and Mikey helped with the production and writing of my album, “Songs from Zion.”  It was actually written during the time when I had just met my husband then we got married. The compilation of songs talked about my struggles to find answers from God; and my journey in the music industry. Rory was in charge of the production and getting all the right elements involved as well as recording and approving my vocals. Mikey was the one that approved the lyrics. It was a great combination; Rory’s experience producing dancehall and roots music and me coming from gospel made a great combination. Rory brought rhythms to me that were classic and modernized them. Of course, Mikey Bennett is a veteran songwriter; so it was a blessing to work with him. I grew a lot and I learned a lot.

Streetwise Radio: What advice do you have for women working in the business of reggae music today?

Kristine Alicia: We are all unique with many dimensions and beautiful energies. We should be proud of our diversified contribution to the industry and never have anyone compare us or keep us in a box.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Second Line for Robbie Shakespeare By Shelah Moody


Seemed all one mutual cry. I never heard

“The skies, the mountains, every region near

So musical a discord, such sweet thunder.”

—William Shakespeare 

                                               Robert Warren Dale Shakespeare

 Like the British poet and playwright who bears the iconic last name, Robbie Shakespeare was a genius. His stories were not built with words or pentameter; he used notes, chords, and melodies to speak volumes and shape popular music.

         On Dec. 8, 2021, Robert Warren Dale Shakespeare, better known as half of the Grammy-winning drum and bass duo Sly and Robbie, died from complications caused by kidney failure. He was 68. To say that his death created a void in the music industry spoke volumes. 

      Robbie Shakespeare and his drummer partner Sly Dunbar formed Sly and Robbie in the early seventies in Kingston; JA. Pioneers in the roots reggae, disco, digital, and dancehall age, they performed on thousands of recordings and built riddims for Black Uhuru, Mighty Diamonds, Chaka Demus, and Pliers, Grace Jones, Mick Jagger, No Doubt, and more.

       Crossover reggae dancehall artist and Grammy winner, Shaggy posted a black square on his Instagram account after hearing the news.

        “R.I.P. Not a good day.” Shaggy wrote.

       Throughout his career, Shaggy collaborated with Sly and Robbie on many projects, including “Shaggy and Friends” and “Out of Many, One Music.”

      Oddly, there were no posts by Gwen Stefani, who collaborated with Sly and Robbie with No Doubt to produce their 2001 album “Rock Steady.”

    British rock star Sting posted a clip of him and Shaggy jamming in the studio with Shakespeare.

    “We lost another giant today. #robbieshakespere,” Sting wrote.

    “Da One Ya heavvyyy!,” Grammy-nominated reggae artist Jesse Royal posted on Instagram.

   “Gratitude for the work, yes but also all the words of encouragement and the advice that u didn't have to share but always made it a point to do. The insight that I will never

overlook!!! Rest In Power Unks! The Word "Great" can't even truly define u!!! Jah Jah!

#RobbieShakespeare #Godly #Bass.”

       Heavy hitters Morgan Heritage also honored Shakespeare’s legacy in an Instagram post:

     “This loss is truly unexpected. Thank you for your greatness and your contribution to Reggae music. We'll never forget how you and Sly

opened your arms to us back in 1992 and continued to be instrumental throughout our career. May your legacy live on forever. #RIP Robbie.”


“Sheeeelah! I’ll never do another interview with you again!” 

   I was the press tent coordinator at the Monterey Bay Reggaefest one year, and Sly and Robbie were headliners.

       I’d convinced the loquacious Sly and the normal media-shy Robbie: to pop into the press tent for about five minutes and take questions from the grassroots press. 

       As it turned out, there were so many questions for the famed duo that they ended up in the press tent for nearly an hour. Robbie obviously had other places to go! 

          Another funny story about Robbie took place in Golden Gate Park at Michael Franti’s annual Power to the Peaceful Festival. 

   At the time,  I didn’t think Robbie even remembered my name; so I was surprised when he called me over as I was walking through the backstage area. 

    What he wanted to tell me was that one of the cats in his band dug me. I laughed and told him thanks but I dug someone else. Robbie laughed; his laughter was robust.

   I always thought of Robbie as round; robust; round sound on the bass; robust lifestyle. Robust appetite. Once I saw him sitting in Popeyes’s chicken before a gig at the Independent in SF. I did not bother him. 

    Over the years, I’d follow Sly and Robbie on tour with special guests such as Cherine Anderson, Mykal Rose, and Bitty McLean. The last time I saw Robbie was at the Sweetwater Cafe in Marin and he gave me the biggest hug and then he was gone. During the show; I noticed that Robbie was maybe not feeling his best; because he was sitting down while playing the bass. 

     I had a bad feeling when Robbie was absent from Sly and Robbie’s 2019 gig at the Longboard Margarita Bar in Pacifica, CA, that something was wrong. Famed Jamaican musician Lloyd Parks performed in his place.

     Right now, my prayers go out to Robbie’s family and his longtime musical partner, Sly Dunbar. Let us embrace Sly and give Sly his flowers while he’s still alive. May we continue to support artists of this caliber and continue to support their music.

     Such sweet thunder.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

R&B Great Martin Luther McCoy Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Marvin Gaye’s Iconic Album at SFJAZZ

By Shelah Moody

      San Francisco native and acclaimed vocalist/musician Martin Luther McCoy is the epitome of style and cool.  Perhaps for those reasons, the silky tenor was chosen by SFJAZZ to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Marvin Gaye’s iconic 1971 album “What’s Going On.” Luther and his eclectic band perform the songs of “What’s Going On” Sunday, Oct. 17 at SFJAZZ Center.

     Here’s a snippet of my recent conversation with Martin Luther McCoy. To see the full interview; and to hear McCoy sing a few acapella tracks, check out the following video. 

Streetwise Radio: For the youngsters out there, tell us what you know about Marvin’s iconic album and its relevance in 2021. 

Martin Luther McCoy:  I mean, it’s Marvin Gaye. It’s one of the best to ever have done it. It’s always a challenge to do anything with the music of the greats. Some of us might be charged with holding the torch and keeping it in the air; keeping it alive in the now and not just samples or clips of something from yesterday. I have often tributed some of the great artists who have impacted my artistry; and Marvin—his work and his chord choices; and the placement of his beautiful voice— that voice was such an instrument. Those guys at Motown were carving some new stuff. They were putting the absolute best melody over this chord change to (emphasize)  this thing in his voice. It was that conquering lion. You could lean on it at any time and get the sweetest, but coldest soul music ever.  Anyway, I funk with Marvin Gaye; all the time. It’s the 50th anniversary of the album. 

    Back to the chords. They’ve impacted some of the songs I’ve written and the way I deliver them. 

Streetwise Radio: What are your favorite songs on “What’s Going On,” the album?

MLM: “What’s Happening Brother” is probably my favorite song, when I think of the album, “What’s Going On.” The feeling, the joy, the wonder, the way it was phrased gave you so much information about the perspective and the writing of that song. It’s awesome. I love how he’s just rapping with us. Marvin—he’s just that dude. He just talked to you, with this cold smile, with this tone. They got that Motown polish.

       But, you know, I get it like Martin. I enjoy what I do with it because I’m doing it now; I’m making sure that these things are still in the air for us to show up, sit up and enjoy and party with. I’ve never done an artist’s body of work like this from top to bottom, so this is new for me. When I listen to that body of work, I don’t just listen to one song; I just let it rock. That’s just how good it is. But anyway, “ What’s Happening Brother” is my joint.

Streetwise Radio: Do you think you could play Marvin Gaye in a biopic or a movie?

MLM: I’d love to. I auditioned for a few things that were going on with Marvin Gaye. What’s for you is for you. We’ll see. That’s an awesome thought.

Streetwise Radio: You have an element of style and cool that reminds me of Marvin Gaye.

MLM: He’s got it, and thank you. Just to be thought of in such a fashion is awesome. I want to revere those cats for having done what they did with it, and I also want to be able to put myself up against them. No matter what, I want to be able to create something that somebody’s going to go to just as hard as they are going to go to some of their music. So I’ve got work to do.

Streetwise Radio: How long have you been working with SFJAZZ?

MLM: SFJAZZ has become an incredible home for me as a solo artist who’s a part of an organization that’s already running, that connects me to other things in that atmosphere. And those things are fantastic; and I do what I do for those things like I do what I’m doing for my own career. So, now it’s like having an ally in the mix. It’s awesome having SFJAZZ as an ally.

Streetwise Radio: How do you feel about SFJAZZ Center’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement for the audience? Does it make you feel any safer as a performer?

MLM: I understand the measure and how things have to go forward. People have to determine whether or not they want to be a part of that movement. I can’t really say that it’s safer or not because I’m out in the general public. By theory, it should be safer. And do I feel better about it? Yes. I don’t know, because I don’t want to put it on something like this is the answer. We don’t know. There’s so much we don’t know, so we have to find out in cautious ways. Some of us will not be a part of that mix at all, and others will take the jab.

For more information on Martin Luther McCoy, go to:

Streetwise Radio Zoom Interview With Martin Luther McCoy

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Three Black Kings and a Black Queen: H.E.R and the LA Philharmonic

Three Black Kings and a Black Queen: H.E.R and the LA Philharmonic

Aug.14, 2021

Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA

By Shelah Moody

Freedom for my brothers

Freedom 'cause they judge us

Freedom from the others

Freedom from the leaders, they're keeping us

Freedom gon' keep us strong

Freedom if you just hold on

Freedom ain't free at all, no…”— H.E.R.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, opened their sold-out, Aug. 14 concert at the Hollywood Bowl with “Star-Spangled Banner.”

The national anthem would have been appropriate for a July 4th picnic or a fireworks show, but opening with an antiquated song written by Francis Scott Key, a slave owner who saw blacks as inferior ( seemed wildly inappropriate at a concert celebrating black music. This concert featured one of the industry’s most celebrated and woke artists, Oscar and Grammy winner Gabriela Wilson, aka, H.E.R.

I confess that I started a bit of good trouble when the “Star-Spangled Banner” played. I muttered under my breath that I would remain seated. The mixed group of millennials on my left heard me and remained seated as well. The older white gay couple on my right said they agreed and so did the Asians seated in front of us. The young black woman who’d just popped a bottle of champagne for her birthday did not rise, either.

We, as one section united, masked up, loving music, hating injustice, remained seated until the “Star-Spangled Banner” was over.

The LA Philharmonic redeemed themselves after the awkward opening, performing Duke Ellington’s eloquent jazz composition “Three Black Kings” a symphonic eulogy honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Then, she appeared wearing an oversized red satin shirt, matching shorts, black heels, trademark shades, and waist-length wavy hair. Appropriately, the 24-year-old phenomenon known as H.E.R. made her grand entrance as the LA Phil played melodic, string-infused riffs of Marvin Gaye’s protest anthem “Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler”). Her sultry, R&B vocals soared high above the nosebleed seats as she segued into Gaye’s “What’s Going On.”

H.E.R. was stunned with her two original compositions (I’d pick either to replace the” Star-Spangled Banner” as America’s national anthem). One was “Fight for You,” (from the film “Judas and the Black Messiah”) which earned the Vallejo, CA- born singer an Oscar for Best Original Song, and the other was “I Can’t Breathe” which earned H.E.R. a 2020 Grammy Award for Song of the Year.

As she performed “I Can't Breathe,” the names of Breona Taylor, George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland and other African Americans killed by police flashed in intricate designs on the stage.

Starting a war, screaming, "Peace" at the same time

All the corruption, injustice, the same crimes

Always a problem if we do or don't fight

And we die, we don't have the same right

What is a gun to a man that surrenders?

What's it gonna take for someone to defend her?

If we all agree that we're equal as people

Then why can't we see what is evil?

I can't breathe”

Borrowing a line from a Stevie Wonder song, I consider H.E.R. a female Shakespeare of her time. Watching the “Hard Place” singer jump on the bass, guitar, keyboards, and drums while singing, rapping, and dancing at the Hollywood Bowl show; I’d also put her on the genius level of Prince.

H.E.R. told the audience that performing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic had been one of her top goals.

To top it off, H.E.R., whose moniker means “having everything revealed” is simply adorable. She dedicated her ballad “Best Part,” performed with one of her backup singers in Daniel Caesar’s place, to a lucky couple in the audience who she referred to as “Johnnie and Jasmine.”

During “Best Part,” H.E.R.’s concert became live theater as Johnny got down on one knee, held out a ring box, and proposed to Jasmine in front of the stage. The audience ate it up.

As she sang and played keyboards, H.E.R. dedicated her autobiographical composition “I’m Not Ok” to anyone who has gone through a mental health crisis and asked the audience to turn on their phone flashlights to illuminate the darkness.

Since H.E.R. has collaborated with so many artists including Skip Marley (“Slow Down”), Lauryn Hill (“Sweetest Thing”), YG (“Slide”) DJ Khaled (“We Going Crazy”) and icons such as Hollywood Bowl alumni Janet Jackson is singing her praises on social media, I’d expected a few special guests to pop up at the Hollywood show. But HE.R., accompanied by her soulful band, the LA Phil, her soulful band and an expensive, high-tech light show dazzled on her own. H.E.R. proved that she is enough.

H.E.R performs Sept. 18 and 19 at the Lights out Festival, Concord Pavilion, Concord, CA. ( Listen to H.E. R. on Streetwise Radio.

Three Black Kings and a Black Queen: H.E.R and the LA Philharmonic