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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.
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!
If you’ve been following me on Instagram (or IG as the kids call it), you would have seen a few highlights from the first Elevation Awards Show at the Melia Resort in Nassau, Bahamas. On Saturday April 15th, 2017, the Life by Olivia team was there to capture and mingle with some of the young Bahamian artists who are making waves on the scene and changing the industry. The Red Carpet activity started buzzing shortly after 5:30pm as scores of fashion looks graced the scene sporting various trends, cultural prints and bold coloured jackets. The talent was anything but shy! These game changers are making BIG statements with their accomplishments but still remain humble.
If you haven’t heard, the Elevation Awards is geared to be an annual award show created by The Elevation Media Group. The Elevation Awards celebrates the accomplishments of Bahamians in music, acting, sports, community building and other fields of entertainment. We chatted with some of the big names that night, including musical artists Gary Francis, Dyson Knight, Keeya, and Jonathan Farrington. Each artist shared a word of wisdom with us. Gary advised any new artist trying to get on the scene that practice truly does make perfect. Dyson stated that his motivation for his career comes from seeing his music touch and inspire others. Keeya shared that the inspiration behind her #1 single Faded was about being a millennial girl trying to figure out the young guys on the dating scene. The video was created by an all Bahamian team with world-renowned director, Kareem Mortimer. While, Jonathan, who had to quickly jet back to Canada to perform at the Canadian Music Festival shared how placing second in the Canadian musical competition and being the only international competitor has helped his networking and boosted his determination to continue his career.
Hosted by the host of one of my favourite local TV Shows, “Chef it Up”, Ianthia Smith, kept the audience entertained with her quick wit, humour and engaging personality. But the best part was the live performances. The Award Show provided nonstop entertainment with concert-like performances in all genres that brought the crowd to their feet and made inner karaoke superstars out of many! We were entertained by artists such as Keeya, Jive, Jonathan Farrington, DJ Counsellor, Sammi Star and Bantangy. My favourites were Jive for their performance of Rhythm, a rap artist by the name of Eman who performed a raw piece that told us of his transformation from street life to Christian, and a spoken word piece entitled, “The Bahamian Dream”, which spoke to the realness of current events and politics that many choose to ignore; it was written by Michaela Munnings and performed by Zemi Holland.
The first of many to come, The Elevation Awards serves as inspiration to young artists to let them know that there is a place for them in society. I've heard the biggest complaint from young artist who submit their work to local competitions: "I was told it wasn't Bahamian enough." Artists should feel free to make whatever work makes them happy and sparks a change socially. The Elevation Awards is the right platform to do this and next year, they're coming back bigger and better than ever! And as always, Life By Olivia will be there to keep you covered. Because Life Could Use a Personal Touch!
Why hello there, Friday! I hope this week has been a productive one for all of my lovely Lifebyolivia.net readers. After a busy week I’m pretty excited to relax and unwind at a music festival happening tonight. You know where I’ll be this weekend! But before I head off to my weekend plans, here are five things that have been inspiring me this week…
1. Dr. Praeger's Veggie Burgers
I recently discovered a new brand of veggie burgers in the food store and I am in love! I was impressed by the low price and the low sodium! And when I ate it! My goodness! It's a genuine vegetable burger, made of real vegetables! I found it hard to believe that they were ever frozen, because they taste freshly made by a gourmet chef. Dr. Praeger's tagline is, "Dr. Praeger’s caters to a wide variety of dietary needs with our delicious frozen foods made from recognizable and pronounceable ingredients!" So far, the Kale is my favourite and the Asian patty tastes like Sushi! You've gotta try it!
2. Martha Stewart's Spiced Lemonade
I think I've mentioned before the little competition I have going on in my head with Martha Stewart. She's just so perfect! The woman went to jail and still makes amazing centrepieces and makes cocktail hour look like a night in Dubai! I actually went to her website after joking about her with a co-worker and ended up spending the rest of the day there. I stumbled upon the spiced lemonade recipe and had to give it a go! I swapped out the ground cloves with whole cloves, and I love it!
3. My Arugula and Spinach Muffins
I'm seriously eating two of these right now! I really don't think they'll make it to the weekend!
Haeven is an alternative band from the Bahamas. Their sound is a diverse mixture of genres from Pop Rock to Hip Hop & R'n'B with a fusion of native sounds. I've been to some of their shows and it's a great experience every time! Whether they're singing covers or originals, I love singing along! (And it's not just because it's my best friend's band, I swear!)
I'm totally excited to be attending this event tonight! It's a family friendly, multi-genre Live Event, the first of it's kind in a series of events. It's going to be held at Potential Church (but it's not entirely a religious event, if that's not your thing). Haeven will be performing, so I'm definitely going to show my support.
What are some of your favourite things this week?
Let me know in the comments!
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?
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?
Thank you so much for wanting to feature me on your blog.
It was a pleasure meeting you, Olivia!