Fascination comes in many forms, good, bad and the fabulous! The Caribbean has an irresistible magnetism that people flock to. The same can be said about people born in the Caribbean or people of Caribbean descent. Caribbean people are known for their strong political views, indisputable athletic ability, talented musical ability and keen business sense. Additionally, you cannot talk about the Caribbean without thinking of the colorful fashions that are a staple for the islands. And, let us not forget the everyday person who has impacted their community with years of service and commitment.
With that in mind, RedCarpetShelley.com has compiled a list of 2012′s most fascinating people of the Caribbean in areas of music, politics, sports, business, philanthropy, fashion and community service. Each person chosen had impactful accomplishments this past year. This list is compiled of the biggest celebrities that you have ever heard of and the most influential everyday people you may have never heard of. The contenders of this list were thoughtfully and carefully put together to represent the Caribbean Diaspora which we are very passionate about.
Thank You to The Red Carpet Shelley Team!
Red Velvet Sandy
Mr. Vegas (Jamaica)
Clifford Smith was born in Kingston in 1974.The moniker “Mr. Vegas” was given to Smith by his schoolyard football mates, who thought that he kicked the ball like a Las Vegas dancer. Mr. Vegas found fame in 1998 with hits such as “Yu Sure”, “Jack It Up”, and “Latest News”. In 1998 his debut album, Heads High, was released, which hit #5 on the US Reggae chart. Mr. Vegas has won or been nominated for multiple awards including a MOBO for Best Reggae Artist and a Soul Train Award nomination for Best Reggae Performance in 2010.
Mr. Vegas is on this year’s fascinating list in the #1 Top Dog position for more than one reason. Mr. Vegas’ Jamaica 50 tribute album “Sweet Jamaica” was named by GooglePlay as one of the Top 50 albums for 2012. The album is the only reggae album to earn this distinction! The title song is my personal favorite Jamaica 50 tribute song and I’m certain it will stand the test of time and be playing 50 years from now at Jamaica’s 100th Independence celebrations! Now that’s fascinating!
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the baby mama drama that went viral earlier this year. Now, some may say “why is Mr. Baby Mama Drama #1?”, but Mr. Vegas is not #1 because of the drama. Mr. Vegas is #1 because he made a conscious decision to allow the public to share in a very personal ordeal. It takes a lot for a man to share his hurt and pain but for a Caribbean man to do so and in such public manner makes him FASCINATING!!! RCS Sidebar Mr. Vegas is reportedly penning a book about the whole incident (but I want to see the movie!). Gwan Mr. Vegas! https://www.facebook.com/MrVegasMusic
Bajan pop superstar Rihanna has had an amazing and record breaking 2012. She graced the cover of Vogue magazine for the 2nd time in November 2012 (first time in April 2011). The worldwide superstar is the “#1 Person On Facebook” with over 61.7 million Likes and has ignited record charts around the world with “Diamonds,” from her new CD UNAPOLOGETIC the fastest-rising single of her career to date, with first-week postings at #1 iTunes in 27 countries and Top 5 iTunes in 55 countries.
Not only is Riri one of the hottest artists on the planet, she is also flexing her philanthropic muscles. Rihanna recently donated US$1.75 million (Bds$3.5 million) to Barbados’ Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The hospital’s radiotherapy unit has been renamed the Clara Braithwaite Center for Oncology and Nuclear Medicine in honor of Rihanna’s grandmother, who died in June.
RCS Sidebar: Rihanna’s on again, off again (and, at this writing, back on again) relationship with R&B singer Chris Brown is also quite fascinating. https://twitter.com/rihanna
Buju Banton (Jamaica)
Grammy-Award winning reggae artist Buju Banton (born Mark Anthony Myrie) is on this list because of his continued struggle for justice. Buju, who rose to prominence in the early 90’s remains behind prison doors for a 2009 conviction on drug conspiracy charges with a scheduled release date of 2019.
Buju is currently awaiting a decision on an evidentiary hearing held on December 20. The judge must rule on whether or not a juror disobeyed judge’s orders by allegedly conducting independent research which could have affected the outcome of the trial. Hopefully, this is the break in the case he’s been waiting for!
In spite of his incarceration, Buju remains a vanguard for human rights and consciousness: http://thisisbujubanton.wordpress.com/
“If only you knew, I pray this great nation would regain consciousness and defend truth and rights like they should and stand united against a common enemy – injustice.” ~Buju Banton
This year, Konshens, the fire-engine red-haired Jamaican dancehall star, has captured the attention of all in the dancehall music community. Konshens could arguably be considered the #1 Deejay for the year with hits like Gal A Bubble, Stop Sign and, personal favorite, So Mi Tan. 2012 was definitely the year all of us wanted to have a Konshens! Not only did Konshens launch his own clothing line, “Oh-K “, he also appeared as a guest judge on an episode of America’s Next Top Model. It was great fun to see Konshens judging the hopelessly, non-rhythmic models trying out their dancehall wining skills to another 2012 smash hit ‘Do Sumpn’ . And, in case you didn’t hear, Konshens smashed it at Reggae Sumfest! (watch the video). and Sting 2012
Yup, Konshens gets RCS’ vote for deejay of the year as he continues to keep the girls dem bubbling! He is a natural born dancehall star! http://www.konshens.com/
Calypso Rose (Trinidad & Tobago)
Calypso Rose born McCartha Linda Sandy-Lewis, April 27 in Bethel, Tobago is a Calypsonian diva! She began writing songs at the age of 15, turned professional in 1964 and has written over 800 songs and recorded over 20 albums. Calypso Rose was the first female to win the Trinidad Road March competition, in 1977 with her song Gimme More Tempo and in 1978 she took the title again with Come Leh We Jam. In the same year she won the Calypso King competition, the first time it had ever been awarded to a female. This year a documentary about her life ‘Calypso Rose – Lioness of the Jungle” aired on PBS. Calypso Rose currently resides in New York and continues to travel the world as a champion for equal rights and justice for women. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calypso_Rose.
Richie Stephens (Reggae & Gospel Reggae) (Jamaica)
International reggae singer Richie Stephens pocketed many awards in 2012 – a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ at the Caribbean New Jersey Reggae Awards and a “Cultural Ambassador Award” from the Comets Athletics Club, New York chapter – to add to the four awards he has already received since the start of 2012.
Among the awards he has copped for 2012 – “Song of the Year Award” for “Live Your Life” from Irie Jam Radio, NY (January); an ‘Achievement Award’ at the 16th annual Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival in Trelawny (February); a “Lifetime Achievement Award” and “Song of the Year” at this year’s Linkage Awards in New York (March). https://www.facebook.com/richie.stephens.946
Soca musical sensation Spectrum Band made it’s ‘Real World’ debut on ‘MTV’s Real World St. Thomas’. The Bands pulsating song “Boom” was featured on an episode featuring St. Thomas’ 60th Carnival celebration. Spectrum Band was the winner of the 2012 Carnival Road March of the St. Thomas 60th anniversary which is a coveted title of Carnival festivities. This was their third consecutive win. Spectrum Band, has recorded successful albums, and appeared on “Tempo Turns Two” and VI Summer-Splash. The band has also had the privilege of backing up some of the greatest soca artists of our time such as The Mighty Sparrow, King Short- Shirt, De’ Baron , Claudette “CP” Peters , The Hunter and many more. Spectrum continues to produce and perform top quality “soca” music for all its fans. Shout out to the lead singer Malvern Gump — I see you!! http://www.spectrumbandvi.com/
Yvette Clarke (Jamaica)
U.S. House of Representatives Yvette D. Clarke is a Brooklyn native and political ‘She-ro’. As a member of the House of Representatives, she is an unwavering champion for the 2012 Dream Act, which would allow children of undocumented immigrants to be put on a path to citizenship. She is working tirelessly to get this legislation passed. Representative Yvette Clarke has worked with non-profit organizations, local community groups and appropriators to secure millions of dollars in essential federal support for the district. The 11th Congressional district includes the second largest population of Haitian immigrants in the country. Clarke is a product of her political legacy as her mother former City Council Member Una S. T. Clarke served in Brooklyn as well, making them the first mother-daughter succession in the history of the Council. http://clarke.house.gov/
Cedella Marley (Jamaica)
Savvy business mogul Cedella Marley, of the Marley family dynasty, is the CEO behind the ‘Tuff Gong International’ empire. Cedella is also the talented fashion designer behind her swimsuit line ‘High Tide’. This year she was the designated designer for Team Jamaica’s Olympic uniform for the 2012 summer games. Additionally, her swim suit line was showcased during an episode of ‘America’s Next Top Model’. Cedella is not only a successful designer and business woman, she is also a talented author. Her book ‘Every Little Thing’, which was inspired by her father reggae music icon Bob Marley, hit #1 on Amazon’s African-American children’s booklist and has also made the Ebony Magazine 2012 Gift Guide. List. http://cedellamarleydesign.com/
Anya Ayoung-Chee (Trinidad and Tobago)
One of the hottest young designers to emerge from the Caribbean is Anya Ayoung-Chee. In 2012 she earned the prestigious Caribbean Heritage Vanguard Award from the Institute on Caribbean Studies for her contribution to the Caribbean diaspora for fashion. Anya’s diverse background as a designer, stylist, model and host is only a hint of things to come. As a designer, Anya is set to redefine the Caribbean as a fashion mecca, and has already begun to do so in a revolutionary way.
Mona Scott-Young (Haiti)
Once named a ‘Renaissance Sister’, Mona Scott-Young is the mogul and power broker behind Monami Entertainment which manages mega star artists and produces projects for television and film. In 2012, as executive producer, she steered VH1′s docu-series show ‘Love & Hip Hop’ to become VH1’s most popular show in the network’s history. Fascinating!
This year Scott-Young served as a panelist for the ‘Woman of Excellence’ discussion where she mentored aspiring artists and shared her experience in the entertainment industry and the arts. Most recently she has brokered a new reality show deal with Bravo TV to air in the near future. She is the epitome of a millennium woman. Sak passe!! http://www.monamient.com/
Rico Vibes (St. Kitts/Nevis)
Leon Ernest Peets better known as ‘Rico Vibes’ is the savvy businessman behind DaFlavaRadio.com and DaReggaeScene.com. I like to refer to Rico as the hardest working man out of the Caribbean!
DaFlavaRadio.com is a 24/7 Internet radio station that consists of Caribbean celebrity radio DJs, hosts and personalities. In 2012 , Rico interviewed top Caribbean artists including Konshens, Bunny Rugs, Beenie Man, Luciano, Romain Virgo, Lady Saw and the list goes on. DaFlavaRadio.com has become a hub for new artists to debut their music and establish their careers in an industry where there are few media outlets that would appreciate dancehall reggae. He also branded and continued to grow his NMT Top 10 Countdown.
Since its launch back in 2005, DaReggaeScene.com is now one of Atlanta’s leading Caribbean entertainment websites. This year also saw the return of Rico’s popular event The DaReggaeScene Awards which recognizes the best of the best in dancehall ‘shock out’ fashion, ‘fiyah’ dance moves, talented DJ’s etc. Rico, next year I need to see a category for best Caribbean Entertainment news website – ya dig? For more about RicoVibes log on to www.DaFlavaRadio.com, www.ricovibes.com, www.DaReggaeScene.com or www.ricovibes.podomatic.com …I could keep going but you get the idea, the man is busy!!
Usain Bolt (Jamaica)
Olympic gold medalist and fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt has had a stellar year to say the least. Arguably the most naturally gifted athlete in the world, Usain Bolt, confirmed his tremendous talents when he won a phenomenal three gold medals in 100m, 200m and 4x100m and defended these Olympic world records in (which he originally set at the 2008 Olympic Games). Bolt’s myriad of awards this year include: IAAF Male Athlete of the Year (for the fourth time), the L’epuipe Sportsman of the Year and the was named the most Influential Man of 2012. Bolt also made Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Sports List and was featured in Vogue magazine. http://usainbolt.com/
Shelley Ann Fraser (Jamaica)
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce Leading in to the 2012 London Olympic Games, Fraser-Pryce improved her national record in the 100 m to 10.70 at the Jamaican Olympic Trials. At the Games, Fraser-Pryce successfully defended her 100 m title, beating American Carmelita Jeter into second place in the final with a time of 10.75 seconds taking home the Gold medal and 2 Silver in the 200m and 4 x100 relay. Gone girl!! http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shelly-Ann-Fraser/28045405755
Kirani James (Grenada)
World and Olympic champion Kirani James became an international hero to his native Grenada and the world this year following his record-breaking performance at the London 2012 Olympic Games. In only 44 seconds, this son of the “Spice Isle” garnered his country’s first Gold medal in the men’s 400 meter. In the midst of all the glory of winning a gold medal, James took time to embrace and give his bib (the name tag each runner wears) to Oscar Pistorius, the South African double amputee who came in last. This selfless gesture of kindness and respect was considered by “O” Magazine an ‘unheralded moment from the Olympics’. Additionally, James was named “Caribbean Athlete of the Year” at the the Caribbean Spirit of Sports Award for his stellar sportsmanship. Fascinating! http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kirani-James/328774608066
Dr. Claire Nelson (Jamaica)
Dr. Claire Nelson is the Founder and President of the Institute Caribbean Studies. Nelson has been actively engaged in the business of international development for more than twenty-five years. In 2012, she was bestowed with the distinction of ‘Champion of Change’ by the White House for her contributions in the Caribbean Diaspora.
Champions of Change are leaders who have “exemplified extraordinary successes and efforts toward the development of – and diplomacy with – their countries or communities of origin.” Additionally, Dr. Nelson hosted yet another Caribbean American Heritage Awards Gala which has become the signature annual honors and recognition program for Caribbean Americans. http://www.icsdc.org/
Avis Blackman (St. Kitts/Nevis)
As a public servant, Avis Blackman has dedicated almost 40 years to supporting and assisting disadvantaged and low income citizens of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands with their legal issues. Blackman, who received training from all over the United States, has been instrumental in the defending the homeless, disabled and defenseless.
Since 1976 she has worked for Legal Services of the Virgin Islands using her expertise in labor, education and human services. During her career she was very active in politics and ran for a seat in the Senate in 1990.
As a seasoned legal specialist, Blackman provides mentorship and support to new lawyers and provides advocacy services to many clients each year. As she prepares to retire and begin a new chapter in her life she has fond memories of her successful career.
Kylla Herbert (St. Kitts/Nevis)
Kylla Herbert has always been a Cultural Enthusiast ever since she was a young girl. Herbert worked closely with her Nevisian father, the late Nkem Tshombe, founder of the South Jersey Caribbean Cultural and Development Organization (SJCCDO) from its inception. Now as the President of the SJCCDO,
Herbert oversees several community programs and event coordination for the South Jersey Caribbean Festival (SJCF) held each July in Camden NJ. In 2012, the SJCF celebrated its 12th consecutive year of showcasing Caribbean culture, food, and entertainment on the Camden NJ waterfront. Additionally, in November she was named “Caribbean Person of the Year” by St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organization of Philadelphia. http://www.sjcaribbean.org/
Andrew Ingraham (Bahamas)
As president of the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers, Incorporated, Andrew Ingraham has hosted yet another successful International African American Hotel Ownership /Multicultural Tourism Summit & Trade Show designed to educate attendees on becoming a hotel owner or investor. In 2012 he garnered the prestigious Caribbean Heritage Award from the Institute on Caribbean Studies for his contribution to the Caribbean Diaspora for excellence in business and tourism. www.nabhood.com
Grammy Award winning Orville ‘Shaggy’ Burrell has been an compassionate philanthropist by raising much needed funds for Bustamante Hospital for Children in Jamaica through his ‘Shaggy Make a Difference Foundation’. He was first introduced to the hospital over 10 years ago while visiting a friend’s son who had been admitted there. He was so moved by what he saw that he pledged to get involved and make a difference for Jamaica’s children. Shaggy formally introduced a sustainable event that has garnered funds for the hospital.
The Shaggy & Friends Benefit Concert features Jamaican and international artists giving their time free of cost for the cause. In 2012, the Shaggy and Friends concert was once again staged on the lawns of Jamaica House and raised US$370,000.00 (J$32 Million). To date, his foundation has raised a total of just over US$1,000,000 (J$90 Million) for the hospital. Mr. Boombastic also lends his talents and influence to help other causes. Recently, Shaggy auctioned tickets for the Sounds of Reggae concert at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to benefit the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund. The fund benefits musicians who are ill, disabled or suffering from other types of ailments. Although Shaggy won the Grammy for singing “It Wasn’t Me”, this time it was him! http://shaggyonline.com.