by Howard Campbell
[SOUTH FLORIDA] – A self-described loner and goody two shoes, Calibe Thompson remembers her formative years in Jamaica as filled with family activities, frolic and music.
This was the 1980s and 1990s before cable television from the United States transformed lifestyles of Jamaican youth. It was still vogue to soak up the country’s culture and as “a child of the early ‘80s”, Thompson was privy to the sweet and not-so sweet side of Jamaica.
“Jamaica was still developing. It wasn’t as built-up as it is now, but downtown and New Kingston already had distinctive skylines. There were limited hotels to visit and limited street-side snacks to buy, like Prestige Donuts and gizzardas (pastry made of crust and gratered coconut),” she recalled. “The weirdly orange-colored jerk chicken out at Faith’s Pen (in St. Catherine parish) still tasted good back then, and it took an hour-and-a-half to get to Ocho Rios on a terribly-scary road through Mount Rosser. Politicians were much more sketchy and had much lighter skin.”
Thompson was born in St. Andrew parish where Kingston, Jamaica’s capital, is located. She was raised with three sisters in middle-class surroundings and remembers not taking a bus until in her teens.
Because there was a gap in ages between them, there was not a lot of sibling socializing but her parents ensured they knew from early that Jamaica was not limited to Kingston.
Fun Times in Jamaica
“Though we didn’t do much in the Kingston area, where we lived, other than occasional movies, NDTC (National Dance Theatre Company) performances and the occasional play at Little Theatre, we did travel the island. I am pretty sure I visited every parish from Negril (in Westmoreland parish) to Portland as a girl,” said Thompson. “I climbed Dunns River Falls and enjoyed botanical gardens. There were far fewer attractions, but lots of time with family and (mostly my mom’s) friends.”
Her secondary education started at all-girl Immaculate Conception High School and completed at Campion College. After one week at the University of the West Indies, she transferred to nearby University of Technology. Eventually Calibe earned a degree in architectural studies.
It was during the 1990s with the global emergence of a raunchy sound that Thompson’s interest in music took off.
Love ’90s Dancehall
“Like everyone, I loved ’90s dancehall. When that song Mama (by Baby Wayne) came out, it began my love affair with the genre. I became a hobby singer, joining a girl group named Emerge. Eventually we began recording with Sly and Robbie at Mixing Lab Studios. Then I became a professional singer, touring with Beenie Man, Kevin Lyttle, then Kymani Marley. I never got into sports, but would run for exercise,” she said.
A co-founder of Island Origins Magazine, Calibe Thompson helps portray Caribbean trends from South Florida through that glossy publication which is published quarterly.