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Alicia Key’s The Element of Freedom – Reviews round-up

Akeys Element– The Guardian —
According to Alicia Keys, who was battling depression following the loss of a family member, her fourth album was a struggle to conceive. But, as befits the thrust of her songwriting, she overcame adversity to make a confident, well-crafted modern soul record that engages and rewards without doing anything groundbreaking. Almost every track deals with the ups and downs of love and proceeds at a stately pace. The restraint works powerfully on “Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart”, but the punchier moments towards the end – the Beyoncé duet and a return to Jay-Z’s exuberant “Empire State of Mind” – come as something of a relief.
Killian Fox – The Guardian

Read more reviews from the BBC, The Independent, Spin Magazine and more after the jump!

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Posted: Monday 14th December 2009 1:00 am

Review: the Black Tie Comedy Awards

Mahad Ali

Black Tie Comedy Awards - O2We knew the organisers of the Black Tie Comedy Awards were in for a difficult night after a fire in the black wall tunnel caused all sorts of transport problems for nominees and the audience. After having to cancel the Award show earlier in the year this was another unneeded setback. The Show did eventually kick off an hour late with a lot of empty seats still unfilled and number of special guests still to arrive. The Awards host Kojo the comedian did his best to paper over the cracks and charmed the crowd when he pointed out that there ‘had to be a problem with the Blackwall tunnel on a black event!’ His co-host was model Rachel Ritfield.

Chris Rock was awarded the Best International Comedian gong but unsurprisingly was not in attendance. Young white comic Kevin J was recognised as Best Newcomer and also performed. He killed the audience with laughter about his tales of being a white boy growing up with Nigerians.

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Posted: Friday 4th December 2009 2:55 pm

Mama Africa, 30th Oct at Tabernacle

(c) Jerry Barnett

(c) Jerry Barnett

On Friday 30th October, London’s Notting Hill was treated to Mama Africa, a world music showcase, courtesy of WOM@TT – World Of Music At The Tabernacle. The evening showcased eight female singers performing a breathtaking set lasting over four hours; providing high quality music and a perfect upbeat atmosphere.

The show was opened by stage virgin Nadine Shaw, who sang and played acoustic guitar, showcasing well her sweet but powerful voice and lyrics. Next up was Francine Luce of Martinique, accompanied by Nikki Yeoh on keyboard, mixing a homegrown creole style with classic jazz-style vocals. She was followed in turn by Brown Sugar, winner of Groovy Soca Monarch 2009, who brought an upbeat Trinidadian flavour to the evening with a Soca set.

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Posted: Tuesday 17th November 2009 11:14 pm

Catch a Vibe, proud supporter of the bfm Film Festival (6-10 Nov)

Alice Gbelia

bfm Film Festival brochure coverI am quite the movie buff so I immediately say yes when Nadia Denton offered me to edit the brochure for the bfm Film Festival. My first job was to watch the movies, in order to write the descriptions. I also edited reviews submitted by other writers and had the opportunity to interview filmmakers Dennis Dortch (A Good Day to be Black and Sexy), Menelik Shabazz (The Story of Lovers Rock) and Jason Young (The Novelist).

The programme of the festival is quite exciting but with so many films and documentaries to see, I’ve decided to share with you my favourite films. Click on Read more to see my Top 5 movies.

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Posted: Tuesday 3rd November 2009 12:04 am
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Jerome Laperrousaz: Translating Jamaica’s struggle to film

Laura Aylett

Made  in Jamaica - Jerome LaperrousazThe French director’s new film Made in Jamaica opens this week, a documentary that explores the contemporary reggae scene (read our review of Made in Jamaica). Catch a Vibe caught up with him to find out more about the ideas behind the film.

CAV: How did your relationship with Jamaica start?
Jerome Laperrousaz: I made a film called Third World Prisoner on the Streets with the acclaimed reggae group Third World in 1979 which played at the Cannes Film Festival in 1980. It became a cult movie in two years. I have had a relationship with the island ever since. Part of my family is also Jamaican.

CAV: What is it about the country that fascinates you?
Jerome Laperrousaz:
To me Jamaica speaks to people very loudly through music on an emotional level. Jamaica is a microcosm of what all the poor in the world are going through. Despite its culture it has a universal appeal – freedom, equality and tolerance. Demands for social equality and justice in Jamaica resonate with other cultures and societies worldwide.

CAV: Why is music so important in Jamaican culture?
Jerome Laperrousaz:
Jamaica reflects all the world’s struggles through its music. Through its nation’s talent and creativity and ability to express it through song and music it acts as a voice for a voiceless society.

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Posted: Tuesday 27th October 2009 1:15 am
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Camer Couture – Cameroon C’est Chic!

Jodie Hart

Camer Couture - Kirette CoutureCamer Couture aims to address the gap in representing and supporting Cameroonian talent. Catch a Vibe caught up with the people behind it at a casting for their debut fashion showcase, just down the road from the Shoreditch Studios, where the vibrant event took place at on Sat 17 Oct 09.

CEO and show co-ordinator Cynthia Anduhtabe, PR and marketing duo Ngum Ngafor and Isabel Bezeng as well as co-ordinator Soraya Sone and Creative Director Alex Quest came together because they all shared the same vision and saw something that wasn’t being addressed – so many Cameroonians doing well but that were isolated.

Camer Couture aims to expose the talent that has so far been left unheard, to break stereotypes and show a side to the ‘Africa in miniature’ not seen before as well as give a platform for emerging and established fashion designers. Six months of planning and the group have put together their debut fashion showcase in Shoreditch, which took place at the weekend (17 October).

The company is still only emerging itself but has already garnered attention from the fashion and media worlds. The show aimed to reflect Camer Couture’s ethos and Cameroonian fashion itself – a kaleidoscope of styles – diverse, colourful , versatile and vibrant. Something that very much mirrors the culture and its people – a nation made up of over 200 ethnic and linguistic groups.

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Posted: Saturday 24th October 2009 9:25 pm
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African Music Awards? Pleaase!!

If you’ve seen our Facebook status lately, you must have seen our rant against the organisers of the African Music Awards held on Sat 17 Oct at Troxy, London. The evening was a fiasco. First I have to state that I didn’t stay the whole night. My comments are based only on what I saw between 9pm and midnight.

Doors that were supposed to open at 7.30pm were still closed when I arrived at 9pm with my guest. We were left out in the cold without any explanations or apologies. A lot of people left there and then. My guest and I stayed, her rather disillusioned, me still hopeful. We got in the venue at 10pm, grabbed seats  and watched the “show”. What the organisers described on their website as the show to end all shows consisted of performers lip synching to their tracks (most of them) on a tiny stage decorated with huts – so much for contemporary Africa! The Michael Jackson tribute would have been hilarious if it wasn’t so bad: a low-rent MJ look-alike and wannabe dancers executing poorly choreographed routines. Eve and Youssou N’Dour were supposed to be there. I never saw them; the only high profile star that showed up was Egyptian singer Amr Diab. Lee Jasper (!?) introduced the winner of the Hip Hop African act… only that it was in fact the award for the Artist of the Year… But at that point, no one truly cared.  Click on [Read article] on the right to read the full post…

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Posted: Tuesday 20th October 2009 7:02 am

Review: A La Mode Fashion Show (Sep 09)

Rachelle Watson-Hill

A La Mode Fashion ShowThe ‘A la mode’ International catwalk show, hosted by La Geneve North Events provided a platform for independent designers to showcase their collections; and coincided with the prestigious London Fashion Week. Held at the charming Charing Cross Hotel, on Friday 18th September, press, supporters, fashionistas and the public congregated for a less bourgeoisie affair to that of London’s affluent London Fashion week shows. On arrival we were given a leopard print goodie bag. , filled with business cards of designers, discount leaflets and a fashionista’s must have of a nifty contraption called a ‘zip holder’.

We then proceeded to be greeted with a glass of rose champagne and took a seat in the front row.

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Posted: Thursday 8th October 2009 3:21 am
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Gig review: The London African Music Festival (Sep ’09)

(c) Joyful Noise

(c) Joyful Noise

Last Month the Southbank Centre played to the much-rated London African Music Festival, writer Uchenna Izundu was one of the lucky ones to attend. Read her report.

Hil St Soul
It is amazing that Hilary Mwelwa, the Zambian lead singer of soul groove group, Hil St Soul, is underrated in the UK as an artist with five albums under her belt and a stunning smile.

Wearing black knee high boots with spiked heels, she delivered a rootsy, mature, and mildly retro vibe with a distinct British sensibility. This girl can drop it like it’s hot – with a warm and personable aura her dulcet tones plunged straight into songs like Hey Boy, the infectious and cautionary Don’t Forget The Ghetto, Until You Come Back To Me (her acoustic guitar cover of Aretha Franklin’s classic), and the reggae infused Washed Away, which triggered memories of the bogle and a white sandy beach in the Caribbean.

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Posted: Wednesday 7th October 2009 3:39 am

Eugene Ankomah, a different kind of artist

Reshma Madhi

Eugene Ankomah

Eugene Ankomah

There is a buzz around multi-talented artist Eugene Ankomah. His work has caught the eye of celebs such as Dame Kelly Holmes, actress Freema Agyeman and musician Dizzee Rascal, giving him instant pop status. We caught up with the Central St Martin’s alumni to discuss his latest projects.

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Posted: Tuesday 22nd September 2009 9:50 pm
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Theatre review: The Mysteries @ Garrick Theatre

Karla Williams

Olivier award-winning Isango Portobello’s production of The Mysteries is for anyone who ever thought The Bible was boring. This colourful, moving and brilliantly conceived musical starts with the Fall of Lucifer and ends with the Crucifixion of Jesus and is without doubt one of the most entertaining shows to hit London’s West End.

Pauline Malefane in The Mysteries

Pauline Malefane (Deus) with angels - (c) Ruphin Coudyzer

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Posted: Friday 18th September 2009 10:06 pm
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On black cinema: a conversation with Neigeme Glasgow-Medea

Caribbean Film CornerCatch a Vibe met up with Neigeme Glasgow-Medea, co-director of The Caribbean Film Corner at the Portobello Film Festival to discuss the state of black cinema. Here is what she had to say.

On the label black cinema

“First and foremost we have to stop putting ourselves in a box, we have to stop using the label ‘black cinema’ because cinema is cinema. When we put ourselves in a box, we limit ourselves to things we can do. White people can only talk about their own experiences; they cannot speak of things from a black perspective. It takes the black Brits themselves to come out and do their own thing, they have to be the ones to make those films.”

On how Blaxploitation movies in the US paved the way for black filmmakers today

“Everything has a start. Black filmmakers in the US got through because of blaxploitation films such as Superfly and Shaft, which were dealing with gang violence and [other negative stereotypes]. But those films paved the way for the Van Peebles and Spike Lees to be able to get their foot in the door, and now we have black filmmakers in the States that do the Fantastic Four; films you wouldn’t associate black directors with. Guys like Steve McQueen, who directed Hunger, how do you class him? He’s not only black, he’s homosexual. His perspective on the crisis happening in Northern Ireland, being black and British, [knowing how it feels to be oppressed] and having all that background; he could identify with the Irish as well as the English. He has an open perspective and that brings so much to the film, and that is why his film is so much more interesting.”

On the need to go beyond “blackness”:

“Our stories are vast because black is everything. Black is mixed race, black is Muslim, black is Christian, black is African, black is Caribbean. We have been living in this global village for how long now? It is not just London and England, it is Europe and it’s the world. And we have to open ourselves to that. If you want to make a successful film, it’s not only to work in London, it has to have an international appeal. It has to touch people from different language groups and cultures that can identify with a similar theme.”

Caribbean Film Corner @ Portobello Film Festival
Wed 16 & Thu 17 Sep from 7pm
See listing here


Posted: Wednesday 16th September 2009 12:43 am
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London Fashion Week (18-22 Sep) & Week-end (24-27 Sep): where are our designers?

London Fashion Week 09London Fashion Week is fast approaching. The industry event, that allows designers to showcase their creations and buyers to look at the latest trends, is once again, very “white”. We noted only 2 designers of African heritage exhibiting: label Modernist (co-founder Abdul Koroma is from Sierra Leone) with a presentation on Sunday 20 September and Nigerian designer Duro Olowu presenting on Monday 21 September.

London Fashion Week is a trade only event. More info on the LFW official website

The London Fashion Weekend (Thu 24 – Sun 27 Sep) on the other hand, is open to the public, with tickets starting at £12.50. But we also notice a severe lack of black designers, with only designer Louis de Gama selling during this shopping and fashion extravaganza. You can book your tickets on the LFWeek-end official website

The events organised by the Untold Collective and La Geneve North are a remedy to this striking lack of diversity.  These off schedule events are featured in our Fashion section. Check now for a chance to see creations emerging designers from ethnic and diverse backgrounds:

September fashion events in London featured on Catch a Vibe

More about black designers:

Catch a Vibe interviews fashion designer Maame Baryeh

Photo galleryof MOTIFS, a fashion sale dedicated to black designers and African-inspired fashion; co-organized by Catch a Vibe

Catch a Vibe interviews fashion designer Nkwo


Posted: Tuesday 15th September 2009 1:13 pm
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Gap celebrate 40th anniversary with pop up store in Carnaby Street

Pharrell Williams _Gap pop us store London - Gap London Denim Store

Pharell Williams; new Bionic Gap Collection

Gap are celebrating their 40th anniversary of selling great fitting  jeans to the masses with the launch of a pop up store (1969 store) off Carnaby Street in London.

For 19 days and 69 hours (10 Sep – 5 Oct) the three-floor store on Kingly Court will showcase an extensive range of Gap’s iconic denim styles, specially produced in uniquely engineered washes. Strictly limited edition, only 69 pairs of each style will be available, each pair individually stamped and numbered.

To mark Gap’s anniversary, on the opening day only you will have the opportunity to purchase a limited edition pair of Gap (PRODUCT)REDTM rinsed jeans in your favourite Gap fit for £19.69, with half the profits from all jeans sold going towards the Global Fund to help eliminate AIDS in Africa. The 1969 store will also host the European launch of Pharrell Williams’ new Bionic Gap Collection.

Singer VV Brown will perform on the opening night (Thu 10 Sep, 8pm), kicking off a session of in store music sets from artists such as Taio Cruz (Fri 11 Sep, 6pm) and Mpho (Sat 19 Sep, 3pm).

For more information visit www.gap1969.com


Posted: Thursday 10th September 2009 12:29 am
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Shiny and new!

Welcome to the new Catch a Vibe!! We hope you’ll like it as much we do. Our mission stays the same: make you (re) discover black arts and culture. Let us guide you through what’s new:

–          Catch a Vibe is now a bi-monthly online magazine, published every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month (except for this September, where the first issue was a bit late ;-)

–          A newsletter will be sent each time the new issue comes out, so sign up to make sure you’re not missing out!

–          The articles from each issue are on the homepage. Old articles are archived in the Vault so that you can browse at your leisure

–          We now have video on the website so that you can watch films and theatre trailers, as well as music videos. The homepage video will be regularly updated and will feature whatever we think is worth sharing

–          Talking about sharing: you’ll be able share articles on Twitter, Facebook or by email by clicking on this little green icon Sharethis2 that’s at the bottom of every article

–          Catch a Vibe is your magazine so leave comments! Whether positive or negative, we want your opinion on all the articles published

–          We don’t pretend to cover everything so we’ve added a News section: stop by every morning to get your fix and read who’s doing what in the arts, culture and entertainment world

–          Event listings are in the section What’s On. We’re a bit more selective than in the past and will publish only the events that have the most ‘edutainment’ value. But we’re not the organisers so we don’t offer any  guarantee, only our humble opinion of what’s worth seeing

–          The blog is now integrated to the website. It will feature our opinions and views on arts & culture and will be updated whenever we have something to say

–          Last but not least, the photo gallery with pictures of cool events in London!

We’ve got more surprises on store but that will be all for now. Remember to sign up to the newsletter to receive event alerts and notices of competitions!


Posted: Wednesday 9th September 2009 10:12 pm
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