ANGELA STEWART took a two-stage approach to launching her album Empress of Love on Friday evening.
The official proceedings, with good wishes from and comments from musician Ibo Cooper, singer Shirley McLean and Sandra Alcott, among others, along with a brief performance by Angela Stewart, took place in the day.
In the evening came the main course, as Stewart closed the performances at Jamaica Association of Vintage Artistes and Affiliates’ (JAVAA) regular Friday jam, living up to the title of the album with her material as she did Mothers of Creation, If You’re Not Back In Love By Monday and Just One Look.
Stewart’s music servings were different but she chose the same venue, JAVAA’s headquarters at the Jamaican Vibes Restaurant on Haining Road in New Kingston, for both helpings from the 12-track album, distributed by Life Time Records and Jah Life Records in New York and Miami, U.S.A., respectively.
Dubbed ‘The First Lady of Love’, Empress of Love is Stewart’s third album, after Good Good Loving and Teasing, both for Calabash Records in Miami. This third album actually comes two decades after her recording Moonlight Lover, was picked as 1984’s best song in Miami.
Stewart’s first solo overseas engagement was opening for Steel Pulse at the Sunrise Musical Theatre in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 1981. On Friday evening she closed the show, after the dub poetry of Nomaddz, the steel pan artistry of Michael Pinnock, the lover’s rock of Carlton Manning (of Carlton Manning and the Shoes), the resonant bass of Richie Mack (of The Chosen Few) and a snippet from Glen Ricks, all except the poetry quartet using backing tracks.
But it was a lady in the beginning as it was in the end, Shirley McLean starting the concert off on a good note with her version of Chalice’s Heroes. In addition to the male heroes, such as Marcus Garvey and Martin Luther King, named in the original, she asked “will Mother Theresa come again?”, her left hand extended.
The man with the pans ? steelpans ? Michael Pinnock, swayed to the music as he delicately tapped out Dan Hill’s Sometimes When We Touch, at one point his left hand stretched up and behind him as the right kept the music going.
The Nomaddz brought a delightful taste of dub poetry to the evening, the quartet utilising guitar, a touch of singing and co-ordinated delivery of poetry to earn the warm appreciation of their elders. They started their two-song set with the humorous tale of a tongue-tied, wanna-be swain, Walk Away, causing laughter as they described making a well-designed walk over to the intended target and then “blaf! A buck me toe!”
They turned to the violence in the country with Silent Tears, a rhythmic, rising chant of “ah tiad” expressing their frustration with the situation.
Carlton Manning brought out the clutching couples with his trio of love songs.
SHIVERS OF APPLAUSE
Glen Ricks informed a lady that he wanted to “share your company” before Richie Mack’s bass moved the audience at the JAVAA headquarters. His first, deep “oh baby” sent shivers of applause through the audience, Mackie having the audience like the content of his song, as he sang “you got me going in circles/round and round I go.”
It got slower and more intense as Richie Mack did Isaac Hayes’ I Stand Accused, his voice getting even deeper as he did the long, spoken introduction, punctuated by sporadic applause. And when he started the singing, the audience expressed even more delight, which lasted throughout the song to the end.