Without further ado, here is highly-anticipated RedCarpetShelley.com’s 10 Most Fascinating Caribbeans of 2015. This year’s list includes impactful Caribbeans from entertainment, politics, business and sports.
1. Rihanna (Barbados)
Robyn Rihanna Fenty born in St. Michael Parish Barbados (same as my father, perhaps we’re bad gyal cousins!) had an awesome 2015. On July 1, 2015 the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) announced that Rihanna had surpassed more than 100 million Gold and Platinum song certifications making Rihanna the first and only artist to surpass RIAA’s 100 million cumulative singles award threshold. Riri also has the most Digital Single Awards and is Spotify’s Most Streamed Female Artist in 2015. All this despite not having released an album since 2012’s Unapologetic.
Rihanna is a true Caribbean she is busy with countless streams of revenue (translation, she have nuff jobs!). Rihanna is a co-owner in Jay Z’s music streaming service Tidal, owns a beauty and stylist agency named Fr8me (launched in 2015), is adding to her fashion empire with own line called $CHOOL KIlls, has a successful line of perfumes, is the current face of Dior, was an adviser on this season of The Voice, and will begin filming for a major role in the upcoming 2017 movie, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
But don’t get it twisted music is Riri’s passion. In October, Rihanna inked a $25 million contract with Samsung to promote Samsung’s Galaxy line of products. Samsung will sponsor the release of her eighth studio album “Anti” and its supporting tour scheduled for 2016. Unfortunately, despite a bunch of Samsung and Rihanna promos teasing the release, as well as the announcement of an Anti World Tour, no one knows when this album is dropping!
While Rihanna is busy touring the world next year, she won’t be sitting on her laurels. In 2016, Riri is reportedly launching a line of marijuana. News of Riri’s cannabis line was reportedly announced at the High Times Cannabis Cup in Jamaica. Despite no official confirmation, speculation continues that Riri will be selling three different strains of ganja ((Karribean Kush, Haitian Haze, and Jamaican High Grade). #BitchBetterHaveMyMoney
2. R. City aka Rock City (St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands)
R. City is the St. Thomas born songwriting/producer brothers Timothy and Theron Thomas and they had a phenomenal 2015. The brothers hit a high note with their song “Locked Away” feat. Adam Levine. Despite having written and produced many top ten songs for others, this song represents the first top ten song for the pair as recording artists (of course, they wrote the song too!).
The song, a dancehall reggae fusion (which they are known for), was released on June 29, 2015 and quickly rose to the top of the charts. The song became #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 and peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100. The song has also topped many charts worldwide including Croatia, Lebanon, Belgium, Canada and Australia where they toured and performed the song for the first time with Adam Levine and Maroon 5.
Not only are they successful recording artists, but the brothers who grew up in housing projects in St. Thomas also give back tremendously to their community. The V.I. Massive has always been supportive of them and but have also supported their community. The pair often visit their hometown of St. Thomas to speak to the youth. Biggups to Rock City! Mi luv yuh bad (but not if you’re locked away too long!)
If you’re unfamiliar with R. City, here’s a short synopsis of this platinum-selling production/songwriting duo’s accomplishments: Rihanna’s Man Down and Justin Bieber‘s “Run Away Love.” , Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop”, Rihanna’s “Pour It Up”, and Ciara’s “I’m Out.” “Pour It Up” from Rihanna’s Unapologetic album, won Best Urban Contemporary Album at the 2014 Grammy Awards. The following year, Rock City contributed to three separate albums that received Grammy nominations—Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz, Ariana Grande’s My Everything (both of which were nominated in the Best Pop Vocal Album category) and Iggy Azalea’s The New Classic (which was nominated for Best Rap Album). Their new album #WhatDreamsAreMadeOf is out now and available on all digital retailers.
3. Clive W. Blackwood (Jamaica)
Effective June 1, 2015, Clive W. Blackwood was named executive vice president and the general auditor of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Blackwood, who hails from Kingston, Jamaica is the Bank’s liaison with regard to all matters relating to the Office of Inspector General of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. He is also the Bank’s liaison to the Government Accountability Office.
Mr. Blackwood, a graduate of Ardenne High School in Jamaica, also holds a bachelor’s of science degree in accounting from New York University and is a Certified Internal Auditor, Certified Information Systems Auditor, Certified Financial Services Auditor and a Certified Bank Auditor. Blackwood is the first African-American to hold this position. #MoneyandPower
4. OMI (Jamaica)
OMI (nee Omar Samuel Pasley) is the Jamaican singer behind this year’s summer banger “Cheerleader”! Cheerleader was written and produced by OMI and Clifton Dillon, Mark Bradford, and Ryan Dillon. OMI first began developing the song in 2008 and over the years, it went through several iterations. The multi-platinum song we hear today is actually a remix by a young German DJ, Felix Jaehn (The first version was recorded with Sly and Robbie and Dean Fraser in 2011).
Once the remixed version was released by OMI’s new label, Ultra Music, “Cheerleader” became a massive global success in 2015. “Cheerleader” reached number one in 20 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, France, and Germany. It went multi-platinum in many of those territories. Three separate music videos were released for the song. OMI joins a very small club of Jamaican artists to have broken into the Billboard.Top 10. It is the first Jamaican release to hit the Billboard Top 10 in over a decade since Sean Paul’s ‘Get Busy’ in 2003!
5. Jourdan Dunn (Grenada)
Jourdan Dunn is a British-born supermodel of Grenadian descent who has risen through the ranks to become one of this year’s model success stories. Dunn, born in 1990 began hitting international runways as a teenager in 2007. In May, Dunn was declared a “New Super” by Models.com, a selection of models who are recognized as modern day supermodels; having transcended the fashion industry and established themselves as brands and celebrities.
Dunn who suffers from sickle-cell disease is also known as an activist who has helped to raise awareness for this disease which profoundly impacts Black women. This year Dunn received the Inspiration Award” at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards 2015, for her philanthropic work raising awareness for and her consistent activism for diversity within the modeling industry.
In November 2015, Dunn, who is also a single mom, won “Model of the Year” at the British Fashion Awards, for the second time! In addition to being busy as a Maybelline spokesmodel, Dunn covered Essence Magazine and Vogue this year., She was a Victoria Secret model until she allegedly got bumped after three years for Kendall Jenner. Reportedly, in a show of solidarity with her Caribbean sistren Rihanna dropped out of the shows too. However, Rihanna’s camp denies this stating that Riri needed to work on some new songs….
Some of Jourdan Dunn’s recent campaigns include H&M Holiday 2015, Balmain for H&M F/W 2015 (YES, she was the black girl in those ads!), Burberry S/S 2015 and Maybelline Spring 2015. By the way, last year Forbes listed Dunn in their Top-earning Models List, estimated to have earned $4 million in one year, the first black British model to make the list! #CaribbeanGirlsRock
6. Mona Scott-Young (Haiti)
Mona Scott Young is the Haitian-born CEO of multi-media entertainment company Monami Entertainment. Monami produces the hugely successful albeit controversial “Love & Hip Hop” franchise. Despite the fact that Love & Hip Hop is arguably one of the most popular reality TV franchises, Mona Scott-Young is often under fire for being a key architect of what is commonly referred to as “rachet TV”. A popular New York City shock jock often refers to her as the “devil”. Despite all of the naysayers, this year Mona Scott-Young shared a highly taboo storyline with viewers. The Love & Hip Hop Hollywood (LHHH) story line documented the challenges of being gay in the rap industry. LHHH followed an aspiring, bisexual rapper Miles Brock as he struggles with coming out. Brock divulges to his first love, Amber Hunter, that he is bisexual and in a long-term relationship with a man, Milan Christopher. The story line led to a VH1 special “LHHH: Out in Hip Hop,” about homophobia in hip-hop and the lack of acceptance of homosexuality in the black church and mainstream hip-hop. For a regular, smegula heterosexual such as myself, it was a learning moment especially since homophobia is still very prevalent within the Caribbean culture. Kudos to Mona Scott-Young and the Love & Hip Hop Hollywood producers for tackling this subject matter even if it was peppered with moments of ratchet! #OutInHipHop
7. Azede Jean-Pierre (Haiti)
Azede Jean-Pierre may not be a household name but she is a Haitian-born fashion designer to be reckoned with. Jean-Pierre was born in Pestel, Haiti and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. Azéde Jean-Pierre is a women’s ready-to-wear design label based in New York City. As a refugee, and first generation American Jean-Pierre’s design reflect her rich cultural background juxtapositioned against the edginess of the big city where she now resides (NYC). Her designs are described as walking the line between “fashion and art, femininity and edge”.
This year, Neiman Marcus and NBAF selected Azede Jean-Pierre as the 2015 Fine Art and Fashion Designer Extraordinaire Award recipient. With this honor, Azede joins a very select group of designers and fashion icons that include Zac Posen, Victor Velyan and Ken Downing. As a two time winner of the NBAF Emerging Talent Award as a student, her Designer Extraordinaire Award marks the third NBAF and Neiman Marcus award for the designer.
For Spring/Summer 2016, the production of all embroidered styles will be produced in Haiti. Haiti has the highest rate of human rabies in the Western Hemisphere and Jean-Pierre has partnered with the Veterinary Christian Ministries in conjunction with the CDC and Humane Society International to deliver and administer rabies vaccines to the dogs in Haiti.
Celebrities who have worn Azede’s designs included First Lady Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga, and Solange Knowles amongst others.
8. Dr. Thelma Phillip-Browne (St. Kitts/Nevis)
This year, Prime Minister Dr. the Honorable Timothy Harris named Dr. Thelma Phillip-Browne the Ambassador to United States from the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. Dr. Phillip-Browne, only the second female to hold this position, is a well known medical practitioner and dermatologist, with a wide range of experience in the delivery of health services. “She is a professional woman who will make a difference in our diplomacy with our most significant international partner – the United States,” Prime Minister Harris stressed.
Known as a social activist, Dr. Phillip-Browne is the first registered female doctor in St. Kitts/Nevis, holds a degree in Theology, serves as a Pastor and considers herself a ‘Messenger of Christ’. If you’re not impressed, you should be!
9. Paulette Randall, MBE (Jamaica)
Paulette Randall, MBE is a British theater director born of Jamaican parents. Randall has been directing, writing and producing plays for over three decades. In 2012, Randall was the associate director for the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. She is the former artistic director of black theater company Talawa, and has directed smash-hit musicals, Shakespeare, August Wilson plays and countless other productions.
Earlier this year, Randall was named in the Queen’s Birthday Honors List. The Queen’s Birthday Honors is a prestigious recognition granting various individuals appointment into national or dynastic orders or the award of decorations and medals from the Queen of England. Randall received the honor for her 30 years of service to drama and the theater. Randall was invited to Buckingham Palace to receive this highly coveted honor (RCS contributor Sandra Edwards was there to capture the moments!). As if this honor wasn’t enough Randall received an honorary Doctorate from Brunel University this summer. Randall remains busy as a director, playwright, professor, producer.
10. Yarisley Silva Rodríguez (Cuba)
Yarisley Silva Rodríguez Is a Cuban pole vaulter. She won the silver medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics – the first Latin American athlete to win an Olympic medal in that event.
In 2015, Silva placed 1st at the Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada and also placed 1st at the World Championships in Beijing, China. For the first time in her career, this Cuban pole-vaulter stood proudly at the top of a global outdoor championship podium, having previously won silver and bronze respectively at the London 2012 Olympics and 2013 IAAF World Championships. Silva is now the first Cuban woman to reach a world class standard in the pole vault. #FlyingHigh