On December 14, 2013 a heavy snow storm dumped up to 6 inches of the fluffy white stuff across the tri-state area. The inclement weather however didn’t stop BRAATA from going ahead with their ambitious plan to present a Caribbean Christmas in Jamaica – Jamaica, Queens that is.
Kicking off at the scheduled 1:00pm start time, patrons didn’t really start entering the Jamaica Performing Arts Center until 2pm, just in time to witness a video presentation paying tribute to the Hon. Louise Bennett-Coverly. Grand Market – BRAATA style – was off with a bang. The whole day was choc-a-bloc with visual, aural and gustation assaults provided by set pieces from Quake USA a Grenadian folk-singing group, dance party music, ludo and domino games and a great, but decidely short set from the renowned BRAATA folk singers.
Vendors lined the perimeter of the great auditorium offering a diverse array of goodies, ranging from jewellery, books, fashion items, traditional sweets and treats and the very popular corn soup man who doubled up by selling delicious cups of non-alcoholic Sorrell to get everyone in the Christmas mood. I sampled and definitely could endorse the contents of the Anjelou cake mix – whoever made that cake – I need their contact information! Jenowade designs helped me part with some hard earned cash for a delightful pair of brass earrings and another jewellery vendor’s eye-catching necklace and matching earring set somehow found its way home with me. The children were not left out, relishing the patty eating and bun eating contests, where winners were rewarded with Lasco gift baskets. Merrick Dammar was certainly very happy with his gift as winner of the bun eating contest.
There was a very special tribute to the late Tony Brevett, who had been slated as the headline act. Sadly the 64 year old Brevett lost his battle with cancer in Florida on October 25, 2013. On hand to receive the recognition, Cindy Dawkins his fiancee. The tribute continued with a performance by the remaining surviving member of the harmonious trio – Tony McNaughton, who was joined by the award-winning songwriter Renford Cogle. It is noteworthy to mention that Cogle collaborated with the Melodians as far back as 1963, arranging and co-writing, but never performing with the group. Together, the two delivered a set that was both melodious and poignant, taking the listeners down memory lane with classics like Swing and Dine, Don’t Get Weary and Little Nutmeg before topping it off with a very moving adaption of the classic Rivers of Babylon, which had the audience up on their feet, singing and swaying in a fitting tribute to a tenor singer with the sweet voice, who is most definitely singing harmony in another place.
Sponsors Caribzone, IreJam, GoldenKrust, Lime, Lasco Financial Services, Moneygram, Street Hype Newspaper and Tower Isles Patties should be pleased that over 200 people braved the cold and stormy winter day to celebrate Grand Market.