Few takers for Lips Live

Observer writer

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

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A sparse crowd welcomed veteran deejay Sister Nancy at the inaugural Lips Live benefit concert in Kingston last Friday. It marked her first performance in Jamaica since last year's Rebel Salute festival.

Though the show got off to a late start, turnout was still low by the time Sister Nancy reached the venue for a near-midnight performance.

“I don't know if it was the promotion or whatever it is, but you know what, someone is here who listens to me and that is fine,” she told the Jamaica Observer.

She kicked things off in true studio session style by freestyling a number of tracks on the I'm Not Getting Crazy rhythm. Her 1982 hit song, Ain't No Stopping Nancy, was ,of course, a crowd favourite, and before long the timeless Stalag rhythm was on. It was Bam Bam time.

The single was produced by Winston Riley more than 30 years ago and has been reportedly sampled over 100 times by heavyweights including Kanye West, Jay Z, and even sportswear giant Reebok.

For Sister Nancy, born Ophlin Russell, there is really no difference performing in Jamaica now compared to 20 years ago.

“A di same ting, enuh, because di people dem know mi,” she said. “Mi nuh really haffi do nutten extra; it's just me. What you see is what you get, so the performance nuh mek nuh difference.”

Even though her local performances are far and few between, Sister Nancy says she is actually in the island every three months to care for a family member. She has more time these days to tour since quitting her accounting job in the United States, which she held for more than a decade.

“I have my accounting degree, but I realised I didn't need a nine-to-five when Bam Bam tek off again so I quit,” she said.

Sister Nancy was honoured in 2016 by concert organisers Queen Of Reggae Island Honorary Ceremony (QORIHC) for her contribution to music. This made it a no-brainer for QORIHC's Laurell Nurse to have her headline the inaugural concert.

“Sister Nancy is a legend and she is better now than she has ever been before,” Nurse told the Jamaica Observer. “I wish I had a bigger turnout...unfortunately, it seems like a king is never honoured in his own country. We also chose her because she was the first-ever female deejay and she ruled for two decades. She had to step aside in order to let others reign. Before there was Lady Saw and Spice, Sister Nancy started it. Whether or not the turnout was great the people enjoyed it, and you missed a legend.”

Proceeds from the concert will go to a scholarship for a disadvantaged nursing student, the Gregory Isaacs Foundation and QORIHC. The latter will be held on October 28 at Courtleigh Auditorium in New Kingston. This year's honorees include actress Dorothy Cunningham, journalist Novia McDonald-Whyte, and broadcaster Dorraine Samuels.

Nurse said Lips Live will be held every three months, and Jada Kingdom and Kelissa are billed for the upcoming show.

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