The 2018 Elevation Awards

Hello Lovely,

This past weekend was the much anticipated 2018 Elevation Awards. Artists from all genres flocked to the New Providence Ballroom in the BahaMar Convention Centre for the 2nd Annual Award Show. Last year I attended the show as media, but this year I attended the show as a nominee. I was nominated for Blog of The Year and this was also the first year for the category. I was grateful for this addition because while the world was quickly accepting vloggers and recognising them, there weren't really awards for bloggers. Going into it, I simply new I was not going to win because I was going against Ianthia Smith (fiancé of Farreno Ferguson of F.Dot Photography) and of course she won. I was excited for her to win. Honestly I don't know what I would've done or how I would've felt had I won, so I really think it's for the best. Simply being nominated and recognised for six years of hard work was enough for me. I went with my mum and one of my best friends Krista because they are two of my biggest supporters.

I've always thought that the Elevation Awards has the potential to be a local MTV Music Awards in terms of nominees walking the red carpet in wearable art made by local fashion designers and musical performances that are concert worthy. While the fashion was gorgeous, very little was Bahamian designed, HOWEVER, the performances were amazing! 

Possibly the most outstanding performance of the night was by Judah the Lion who gave us an a riveting steampunk drama. A very close second was a group of young Christian rappers called Christ Gang who brought a lot of energy to the Pre-Show. And of course I loved the performances by Bodine, Wendi (who opened the show) and Duchess who made her stage debut as a solo artist last night singing her new hit single, "Mr. Lover."

Here's the Complete List of Winners:

  • Best Short Film of The Year: Cinemorphesis
  • Best TV Show of The Year: On The Record
  • Photographer of The Year: Stanlo Photography
  • Blog of The Year: Mini Skirts & Microphones - Ianthia Smith
  • Vlog of The Year: Who Dat?
  • Visual Artist of The Year: Jamaal Rolle
  • New Artist: Sanjardo B
  • Bahamian Song of The Year: Qpid - Gimmie My Culture
  • Community Development: Get Fit With Smith
  • Gospel Song of The Year: Jonathan Farrington & Grace Generation - Free
  • Male Artist of The Year: Julien Believe
  • Music Video of The Year: Wendi - I ain't Missing It
  • Entertainer of The Year: Naughty
  • Contemporary Song of The Year: Sammi Star - I Iz What I Iz
  • Video Producer of The Year: Kyle Ferguson
  • Female Artist of The Year: Bodine
  • People's Choice Award: DJ Ovadose

It was interesting to hear so many new names, but of course they were really only new to me. In the moment, I thought some artists were snubbed or overlooked. For example, Who Dat? winning consecutively, Naughty winning entertainer of the year when literally anyone else in the category was a better option and Julien Believe winning Best Male Artist over Judah. The room was eerily quiet when Julien won and I'm not sure anyone really knew how to react. So I spoke to an organiser, to get some answers. Apparently, during the vetting process, nominees are asked to submit a complete portfolio along with a few other requirements; without this the nominee would not even be considered.

Of course no one likes to lose so there were mixed reactions to the award show. Some left before it was over, and some didn't bother to show at all. Then there were the ones that took to social media to throw digs. No one wants to think that awards and recognition are only for an elite circle in society, but when it's the "elite circle" mocking the establishment, you kind of begin to wonder what more could they want? I learned last night that Bahamians would rather diss your work or event before they support it. And they're really only happy to see their friends win. The tasteless comments were rather unfortunate. Sure this year was NOWHERE as good as last year's, with far more technical glitches and a lack of organisation, but the entertainment made up for it. I stayed up until the People's Choice Award because it was really late and I had to get my mother home. But something incredible last night happened that cannot be overlooked.

There was a very touching moment during the show when the host realised that a young 10 year old girl he had used as a part of a bit and buried her mother that same day. As a show of good faith and support, Demetrius not only gave the girl a brand new cellphone courtesy of BTC, $100 and offered to pay her next semester tuition, but he also encouraged the entire audience to donate to her. And the ENTIRE audience got up and gave something. It was very touching. I genuinely hope that the donations are put to good use for the girl.

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FINAL VERDICT: Last year's award show was much better, but it could also be that we were so enamoured by the fact that it was something new. I have a lot of ideas for how the entire experience can be improved on next year that I will sit down with the organisers and discuss. I believe in what Elevation Media is trying to do. Bahamians work hard and we really have to learn to celebrate one another. There are so many creatives in this country, maybe next year artists from the various family islands can be recognised as well. I don't take any part of this experience for granted and look forward to watching the show grow and expand to become a force to be reckoned with. See you next year!

Weekend Recap: How I Spent Cinco de Mayo

Hello Lovely,

THIS WEEKEND WAS LIT!!!!!! I had the best weekend of my life! I went to a concert with two close friends of mine on Cino de Mayo for Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival. We saw a lot of amazing artists like Visage, Bunji Garlin, Faye Ann Lyons and most importantly MACHEL MONTANO! That's right folks. I FINALLY got to see the lengendary man in the flesh! And he is just as sexy as ever!

There was a moment where I doubted if I would actually get to or not after the rain came down. But I was determined! I stood in the rain during and after Bunji and Faye's performance waiting. And guess what, they shut down the whole thing. Lights turned off, speakers, lights and other equiment was covered and sheltered from the rain and most of the crowd scattered. Some people went home, but again, I was determined. I waited under a tent. Just waited. Machel couldn't let me know. I knew he would somehow sense my desire to see him just once in concert (let me know if I'm getting overly dramatic with this).

And after about 10 minutes of waiting, Bodine Johnson the host came back out and said, "Are you guys ready for Machel? I NEVER RAN SO FAST IN MY LIFE! I actually left my friends behind and ran off in one direction while they went in another. I sprinted to the front and witnessed what I believe to be a miracle (again let me know if I'm getting overly dramatic with this).

There is something so liberating about dancing in the rain! I enjoyed every minute of it. Singing and chanting with the crowd awoke a spirit of fun in me that had been surpressed by the burdens of adulthood.

I rested on Saturday, then Sunday was my Cinco de Mayo dinner with my best friends. We turned up with sangria, margaritas, nachos and great music! My best friends are like family to me so it's always a good time when we're together. We played with the Charades and Dinner Party Conversation Cards and heard some really awkward answers that'll make anyone blush. The night totally made up for my failed attempt to catch a beach soccer game this weekend, but all in all, this was definitely the best weekend ever!

Brunch and Jazz: Why I'm Super Excited About The Weekend

Hello Lovely,

It's Friday! Lately I've been so sure the weekend was only one day away (like on Wednesday, I thought the next day was Saturday) that I have just been lost inside of my own head. So now that we've finally made it to the weekend, I'm ready to dance! I have to be, especially because I'm a Team Leader at this year's Vacation Bible School (VBS) under the theme, Wonderland. While I was forced into this volunteer position, I'm super excited to be a part of it in any way I can. I'm gonna bring my A game to make sure the kids have fun, and most importantly, to WIN! Um....I mean, develop a deeper spiritual connection and bond with their peers. Did I get it right this time? Oh well, my team is still gonna win!

Other than that, my weekend is off to an amazing start, because I had brunch yesterday! Brunch is quickly becoming my favourite meal of the day. It's the perfect excuse to drink mimosas and sangria along with endless waffles or amazing finger sandwiches.

Yesterday I went to Olives in Cable Beach with one of my therapy groups for their last meeting before we close for the summer. I didn't take any pictures of them for confidentiality purposes, but of course I took pictures of the food! While I wasn't too impressed with the bitterness of the cappuccino, the layout of the food on my plate or the taste of the veggie omelette I got (I lathered butter on it, and then everything was right with the world) the service was very accommodating (probably because we were the only people there) friendly and speedy.

The waffle wasn't mine, but my goodness, it was just so pretty! And of course I had to take a picture of my outfit before leaving! One of my members commented that he loved my Princess Leia buns and I felt so comfortable in my all pink!

Then, as if brunch weren't exciting enough, I went to Island House last night for the first time to listen to my best friend Anuschka sing. I've missed her so much while she studied in Canada. But she's back in town for her annual Jazz in Bloom concert, which I've already got my outfit planned for!

It was great seeing Anuschka again after so many months, and even better meeting new people and with Leah, whom I hadn't ran into since the 2 Chainz concert last year Valentine's Day. 

Also one of my other best friends in back from one of her many business trips, so I'm really looking forward to the three of us doing something together now that all of us are in town at the same time!

What do you have planned for this weekend? I'd love to hear about it in the comment section below! And if you want to do something, but don't want to go out, (although you really should come to the Jazz in Bloom concert) try these fun activities!

Friday Favourites: Get in the Mood for Summer with these Free Phone Wallpapers

Friday Favourites: What to Make This Weekend

Green Tea Citrus Chiller

Getting Vulnerable with Kamilah

I had the honour of meeting a great Bahamian artist while she was in town for a concert. Her name is Kamilah. She has such a gentle spirit but a powerhouse voice! I was completely blown away not only by her singing, but her playing. She has performed in the Apollo and now lives in New York as she chases her dreams. It's time to get vulnerable with Kamilah.

1.      What made you first realise you wanted to pursue a career in music?

I have always been musical. I grew up with a lot of it- my dad is a big fan of jazz and soul and my mom has a very eclectic musical palate (everything from opera to folk to soul/R&B, disco, rock). I’ve always known I needed music to be part of my life in a major way but I’d say I’ve been certain I wanted to pursue it as a career since around 2004.

2.      How did you become involved in the type of music you play/sing now, and how long have you been performing live?

Over the years I’ve exposed myself to a lot of new (and old) sounds. I think my guitar style, which is more folk in orientation, comes from having listened to so much of that growing up. But my music is constantly evolving. I love to meld genres so there’s no telling what the sound will end up becoming. I’ve been performing live since high school (about 15 years or so). I did school showcases and took part in school musicals (mostly performing covers but always putting my own twist on things). I started performing more of my own stuff in college (around 2007).

3.      What can people expect to see at your live performances?

Honestly, I believe that art, music in particular, is among the most honest expressions but new technologies in communication and music production have created a more formulaic structuring of music, which I feel has, in some ways, limited the craft. I think performing live is a truer testament to artistry. It’s an opportunity for the performer to reveal not only their ability but their most honest self to their audience. It’s a communal experience. That’s what I try to preserve in my live performances.

4.      If you had to describe your music in three or four words, what would you call it?

Honest, vulnerable, fusion

5.      What are your songs about?

I’m inspired by a lot of things. Often my lyrical content is derived from personal experiences (relationships of all kinds). Lately, however, I’ve beenincorporating more existential ideas to my work- looking at who we are, how we as human beings function in the universe, interact with each other; how nuanced our feelings are and how diverse our individual narratives/stories are.

6.      Who inspires you the most? I heard you sing some Drake covers, would you say he is your favourite artist? If not, who is?

I like Drake but I don’t know he is “the most inspiring” artist I admire. I love, love, love Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Amy Winehouse, Nina Simone, Taylor McFerrin, Hiatus Kaiyote, Cat Stevens… lots of different artists. It’s hard to pinpoint any one in particular who has had the most impact. My favourites change depending on the day/week.

7.      If you could perform with anyone in the world, alive, dead or broken-up, who would it be and why? (You can name up to three)

This list is long and ever growing: James Blake, Damian Marley, Taylor McFerrin, Chance the Rapper, Nai Palm, Moses Sumney, Childish Gambino, Jessie Ware, Thunzdercat, J Cole…too many to list.

8.      What would you consider to be your “biggest break” or “greatest opportunity” so far in your career?

I think playing at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, NY would be the "biggest break”. I got the opportunity to play for 1500 people for the first time, which was super nerve-racking but it helped give me the confidence to perform in front of larger crowds. The greatest opportunity may be being invited to play at The Bitter End- a super famous venue in NYC in Greenwich Village. Super amazing acts have played that stage including Curtis Mayfield, Patti La Belle, Tracy Chapman, Hall & Oates, James Taylor, Miles Davis, and Joni Mitchell…They found me and asked me if I’d like to be a part of that history, which was pretty phenomenal!

9.      Have you ever had to turn down opportunities? Why or why not?

Not yet.

10.   What are your immediate music career goals? (Next 1 to 3 years)

Record, release, and play live.

11.  What has been the biggest challenge for you and how do you cope with obstacles?

I think feeling like I/the work is truly ready to be shared. It’s something I think a lot of artists struggle with: always wanting to give your best or your most real. But I think that is easier to overcome than building the confidence to be your most honest self.

I think music culture today breeds a degree of insecurity. Today’s music (particularly popular music) has as much (if not more) to do with the way the artist/performer is packaged- appearance, aesthetic/ style, what pigeon hole they fit into comfortably as it does with the music itself. I think it’s been a struggle for me to decidedly not care about that and just pursue my art and personal style the way that I want without being self-conscious about what other’s will think.

12.  What was your most embarrassing moment during a performance?

I’ve been lucky. I don’t think I’ve had any super embarrassing moments. Forgetting a line… or playing with a band that I’d wished I’d practiced with more… but those are things you can work through on stage- not things that I feel super embarrassed about.

13.  If you had the opportunity to change something about the music industry, what would it be?

The focus on bodies and image. I just don’t think that’s what music is about. But it’s part of the money-making structure and beauty culture around the world. It may sound naive but I just wish it were more about the feeling the music gives than how it is packaged and the personal stories/lives of the artists/performers.

14.  Someone (I’m not sure whom) said, “Write what you would like to perform over and over”. With that in mind, what song do you love to perform the most?

I think this changes. Recently, I wrote a song called “So Right” about living in the moment. I’m a planner so I’ve recently tried to shift my approach to living in “the now”; embracing it for all its joys and difficulties. I think that’s where happiness is. I like performing that song because I think in the moment when I’m singing it, it connects me to the audience in that moment in a special way.

15.  As an artist, is there anything special you hope to be able to accomplish?

I just want to get to a point in my career when I can focus on the music alone. Write and tour and collaborate and play for people- to touch people and be in a position to articulate the things many find difficult to express.

Bonus Question: Who is Kamilah off-stage? Ex: What do you like to do? What else are you good at? College? Day-time job or is music your full-time job? What is something only your closest friends would know about you? Favourite snack?

 

I’m not entirely sure how to answer this. I’m a pretty chill person. I like to listen to people’s stories. I like cooking for people. I’m trying to make yoga a more consistent practice in my life, I love listening to music live, creating music with others. I paint. I guess visual art is another strength/pursuit. I studied Fine Art in college? I completed my undergraduate studies in Canada and got my Master’s from NYU in New York. During the day I work for a graphic design firm in NY as an Account Coordinator. My favourite snack is FRUIT! Especially a juicy mango while on the beach!

Just for fun, fill in the blanks!

Without music, I would be unhappy in a silent world.

Music is everywhere always.

My music makes me feel release

I write the songs because I think music has a unique way of tapping into the core of the soul and uncovering all the stuff that makes life wonderful. Creating that is powerful.

Support music because it supports me.

And how can we find your music?

Facebook: /iamkamilah

IG: iam_kamilah

twitter: iam_kamilah

www.iamkamilah.com

Thank you so much for wanting to feature me on your blog.

It was a pleasure meeting you, Olivia!