Thursday, November 17, 2022
Wednesday, August 10, 2022
Sunday, July 3, 2022
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. https://youtu.be/tlw8NOq-GtE
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: https://youtu.be/lAU11FrxOvo
Tuesday, June 7, 2022
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.” https://youtu.be/pm9VMJuw9Tk
To watch the full interview with Kristine Alicia, go to: https://youtu.be/_7IV8PuO4fw
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.
Saturday, May 28, 2022
Wednesday, January 19, 2022
Seemed all one mutual cry. I never heard“The skies, the mountains, every region near
So musical a discord, such sweet thunder.”
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.