By Marc Parc
Coming off the heels of a memorable Dancehall Night at Reggae Sumfest 2011, International Night 1 of the event showcased a more soothing, Reggae vibe for the thousands of fans on hand at the Catherine Halle Entertainment Centre in Montego Bay.
The buzz that surrounded International Night 1 regarded if anyone would be able to fill the void left by R Kelly's absence following emergency throat surgery on Thursday. However, legendary Reggae singer, Cocoa Tea opted to take on the challenge; delivering a very entertaining performance that provided the Montego Bay crowd with much enjoyment In one chant, Cocoa boasted, "I was not billed for the show, only Rasta Man can cross it."
The majority of Cocoa Tea's chants addressed replacing R Kelly on the Sumfest card; getting lots of laughter from the patrons. Said the "18 And Over" singer, "R Kelly come five years ago and drop him pants, Cocoa Tea a sing him nuh response, foreign artiste a charge couple million, but dis Rastaman a charge a few grand, di likkle short man from Clarendon nuh ramp!" Cocoa Tea, then sang several of his hits including "Holy Mount Zion," "Israel's King," amongst others into the early hours of Saturday morning.
The other main headline going into Friday night’s show surrounded internationally acclaimed Reggae singer, Beres Hammond who was well received upon his entrance on the Catherine Hall. He encouraged fans to sing-along with him & they obliged his requests while he performed several classics like, "Falling In Love All Over Again," "Step Aside Now," "Double Trouble," "Putting Up Resistance," & "What One Dance Can Do."
During the performance, Beres was honored by Sumfest promoters with the Reggae Icon Award for his plethora of contributions to the Reggae industry. Many fans were already aware that he'd be presented with the award following various media reports preceding the event. Nevertheless, Hammond was humbled & somewhat surprised as he graciously accepted this accolade. "I hardly get awards and one like this makes me feel good," he said as fans chanted, "Beres we love you!” during the ceremony.
Following the award festivities, Beres continued his set; performing other classics such as "No Disturb Sign" & "Love Means Never To Say You're Sorry," before calling out the self-proclaimed "Queen of Dancehall," Lady Saw to perform a duet she wrote entitled, "She Was Changed." The song talks about a young girl whose innocence was lost due to rape & abuse but later "turned into a great lady" despite such terrible experiences.
International Night 1 also featured female singjay, Tanya Stephens who advised females in the crowd during her performance not to slack off whilst involved in relationships. She performed notable hits such as "It's A Pity," "Handle the Ride," "Love Mi Long Ding Dong," & "Yuh Nuh Ready Fi Dis Yet."
Legendary Reggae singer, Half Pint also graced the stage performing songs like "Greeting" & Cost of living while former Rising Stars winner, Christopher Martin showed his maturity buy delivering a professional set. Bunny Wailer brought an end to the show to a near empty arena by minutes to 6am Saturday morning.