NEW YORK – Dozens packed in to a New York City restaurant Wednesday night as the sixteenth annual Reggae Sumfest festival kicked-off officially in the Big Apple.
Among those welcoming the Summerfest Production team to New York was new Jamaican Counsel General to New York, Genieve Brown Metzer; and New York Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs, Guillermo Linares, who presented a message from New York City Mayor, Mike Bloomberg.
Emcee Irwine Clare then introduced Summer Fest Productions Executive Director Johnny Gourzong to the throng of media practitioners, sponsors, Caribbean community leaders and supporters. Gourzong for his part revealed the 2008 line-up, which will include reggae`s John Holt, Beres Hammond, roots` singer Anthony B, Richie Spice, Queen Ifrica, Jah Cure, Tarus Riley and Etana and dancehall`s Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Voice Mail, Macka Diamond, Vybz Kartel, Harry Toddler, Busy Signal, Wayne Marshall and Mavado.
Additionally, Gourzong revealed that negotiations are underway for Keisha Cole, Akon or Chris Brown to perform at the event, set for July 13-19 in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Jamaica’s Tourism Minister, Ed Bartlett, dubbed the festival the `premier reggae festival` of Jamaica and lauded the Summerfest team and the many sponsors who continue to promote the event.
“Reggae Sumfest is not just an event, its an experience. This event has brought more than 5,000 visitors to Jamaica and we found that there are people there who end up staying a litle longer .. and they end up making the community a little richer,” said Minister Bartlett.
NYC Immigrant Affairs Commissioner, Guillermo Linares, c., presenting a citation from the Mayor of New York City to Summerfest Productions’ Johnny Gourzong, second from l. Also in photo are Summerfest Chair, Robert Russell, l. and Counsel General Genieve Brown Metzer and Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett, 2nd and first from right.
(Mike Hadaway Image)
Ms. Joan Flowers, state Democratic committeewoman, and a representative from Senator Malcom Smith’s Office, joined former Deputy Brooklyn Borough President, Yvonne Graham, in presenting an official proclamation to Chair of Summerfest Productions, Robert Russell and Johnny Gourzong while Austin McBean of the International Reggae And World Music Awards, offically presented two awards to the Summerfest executives. The awards were won at this year`s event, which was held at the Appolo Theater in Harlem, in May.
Also bringing greetings to the boisterous New York crowd were Campbell Rudder of Air Jamaica, the airline sponsor of this year`s event; VP Records’ Rich Lamont and Tiffany Mea who sponsored the New York party; as well as media sponsors, Jamrock Magazine, David `Squeeze` Annakie and Sasha Lawrence of Karib Links, which will be streaming the event live for the first time this year online at http://www.reggaesumfest.com/.
Meanwhile, among top guests at the event were other officials of Summfest Productions, Geodfrey Dwyer and Howard Thompson, the Jamaica Tourist Board’s Deputy Jamaica Directors of Tourism, Donald Dawon and David Shields; Jamaica Tourism Director, Basil Smith; Carole Guntley, Chris Dawson of the Jamaica Tourist Board; director general, Ministry of Industry & Tourism; St. Kitts Tourism Director to NY, Robert Kelly; Ruder Finn`s Gale Moaney, Helen Ames and Lyndon Taylor; JIS NY, Aubrey Campbell; BET’s Ray Goulbourne; VP Records, Randy and Chris Chin as well as Christy Barber; Lance Ogiste of the Brooklyn DA’s office; Western Union’s Garfield Comrie; Borokeete’s Anthony Pollydore; Cbean Media’s Sherra Pierre Marche; and Trinidad-born socialite, Hazra Ali.
Reggae Sumfest has been presented consecutively since its launch in 1993 by Summer Fest Productions. It is now known across the globe as the reggae event of the summer and attracts thousands annually from the U.S., UK, Canada, Europe, South and Central America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and neighbouring Caribbean islands.
Reggae Sumfest is by far the most successful event on the entertainment calendar in Jamaica and recently earned ‘Promoter of the Year’ and ‘Concert of the Year’ at the 27th Annual International Reggae and World Music Awards on May 4.
The festival has been able to attract top sponsors because of its high quality entertainment product that showcases Jamaica’s abundant reggae talents while leveraging the Jamaica brand and affirming its role as a truly Jamaican product; contributing to the economy of Jamaica by attracting as many as 5,000 visitors to the event and some US$5 million in revenue to the island`s tourism economy.