Tag Archives: Culture

The Amazing Amanyea

By Marshelle Haseley

Amanyea released “Aye aye,” her debut single and video in mid- September, sending waves through Jamaica, the region and even farther. The movement inducing tune was an absolutely fantastic start to a new chapter in her journey that appears to have so much magic ahead.

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All Photos courtesy of Amanyea

It is said that names are powerful, and the names that are given impact us greatly as we walk through life. Amanyea says her name has a number of meanings in various cultures. “I love my name because of the different derivatives it has in many different languages and cultures,” she explained.

Amanyea said, “I was named after a dancer, Artistic Director in Chicago Amaniyea Payne. The meaning she chose to use for her name is “Amani” means “peace” in Swahili and  ‘Yea’ is a light force, a call ‘to you’—so combined it means ‘peace to you’.”

She said her mother chose to use “Aman” which means “peace” in Hindi, and the same “Yea” as a light force— combined, her name means the same— “peace to you”.  She said, “It is something you acquire, but it’s also something you always extend ( like reciprocity with mutual respect ).”

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The artistic talent embodied by Amanyea would have been shining brightly for years leading up to the start of this new chapter in her journey. She said at this point, her mantra is  “Dawg wid too much massa sleep widout suppa.”  She explained her mantra to mean, “Don’t be afraid to give up the good for the great. And while doing so, don’t lose focus because of the opinions of too many people (masters).”

The outstanding young Jamaican dancer said she did not get time to realise she could dance. “Mommy being Dr. L’Antoinette Stines, Artistic Director of L’Acadco, I started dancing at an extremely young age,” she said. In a funny tone, she said she has yet to realise she received the gift of dance.

Singing, however, was a different process. Finding a tone which best suited her soul was a process— digging deeper to discover who she was as a musician— both as a vocalist, and a songwriter. “I realized I wanted to do it when I was 11— then I realized that I ‘needed’ do this at 18. The only thing that was stopping me was fear and opinions— hence, the mantra.”

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“I received many, many years of formal training in dance. I trained with Dr. Stines at L’Acadco, Ballet Training with Elizabeth Samuda and Cathy-Ann Gibbon for Royal Academy of Dance, Cuban Moderna with Arsenio Andrade, and many more,” she said. As soon as she was inspired to begin her journey as a recording artiste she did a number of vocal training sessions, “ but not enough to say I am vocally trained,” she added. Amanyea said her vocal training sessions are important and is continuous.

Her style is unlike anything one would see walking through the city of Kingston. Her eclectic style stands out in any crowd, though she is not a physically tall person—her style and the energy she wears around it makes her seem ten feet tall. Asked about her style she said, “Travel and my background. I grew up around artistic, cultured, ‘MAD’people.” She said fortunately, she has been traveling before she could walk or talk.

“I love different cultures, I love traveling and I unconsciously grab from these different experiences and cultures I’ve encountered,” she said warmly. Amanyea’s mother and brothers are all lovers of music. She said they would listen to Bach, Nina Simone, Erykah Badu, Beyonce’, and then Jay Z. “It was a vibrant, colourful home that I grew up in.  I was exposed to a wide range of music from a very young age,” she said.

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The uncontainable creative life force within her may be responsible for how she experiences the process of creating. She said what she enjoys most about creating is freedom. She said, “I enjoy the freedom of my mind. I get to express in so many different ways, freely, uncensored and comfortably.  I get to freely be myself.”

Many artists say they experience a depth which seems almost like an out-of-body experience when immersed in their craft, but she said she views the concept a little differently. “For me, it’s the other way around. Being immersed in my craft is a ‘reality’ for me. I don’t feel lost, I actually feel like I have found ‘Om’— ultimate consciousness” she explained.  She said her experience is as though everything else she focused on made her lost, while her craft remains the only stable thing in her life. “I finally told myself that  4 years ago— and ever since then, I have been the most focused and ‘found’ I have ever been.”

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Amanyea was asked how she maintained a powerful energy amidst challenges such as a recent injury. She said, “After going to four different specialists in the past year I finally got an MRI done. I had a flap of cartilage that needed to be shaved down. I went in for what may seem like an hour surgery tops and came out 4 hours later. Turns out I had Grade 4 Chondromalacia of the patella and the femoral sulcus.” This means Amanyea had a condition where the cartilage on the under surface of her kneecap deteriorated and softened—a condition common among young athletes.

She was also diagnosed with Osteoarthritis and Synovitis, which is the medical term for a condition where the body tissues lining the joints possess cavities—causing pain and swelling when the joint moves. For any dancer, this would feel like a nightmare.

On April 5, 2018, she said,  “I had arthroscopy surgery done, debridement and microfracture of the femoral sulcus and patella. I lost 17lbs post-surgery and after 8 weeks I started my physiotherapy journey.”

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“I am going to be honest with you— I had fear, emotional pain, and I felt discouraged. I am still pushing and this is still very emotional for me. But I must say – I used my support system as much as possible. I tend to be a loner— but during this whole process I realized how much I need my friends and family,” she explained.

She said she also wanted people to get to know her on social media, “Me— not the pretty side but, me. But social Media only saw the semi-hard parts of my journey. I went through a lot more than I chose to share. I was bedridden for 6 weeks, sent to the hospital because of bad reactions to the pain medicines.

Did more than half of my painful journey without pain meds because I was afraid of the side effects.”

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She said, “ If I didn’t have my friends, and my family around— I wouldn’t have made it this far. I am lucky to also have a physiotherapist who is also a friend— and especially my Mother, Dr. L’Antoinette Stines. She did everything for me, lol “bade me, feed me, everything me” – when I couldn’t myself. It’s okay to need help. I told myself I will be able to do what I love. I am lucky to have 2 loves, Music and Dance and the people around me definitely told me the same. Don’t worry, we got this.”

In wrapping up we asked Amanyea three final questions:

P: What can we look forward to from you?

A: Music. This is only the beginning of my career. I can’t wait for people to hear more of my music and see more of my art, blossom. My aim is to blend all my talents together in one. I released my single September 7th, and the feedback had made me so excited. I am grateful, that so far, people love what they hear and see. Shocking of course, because I am being vulnerable, putting my art out there for people to either love, ridicule, scorn, hate etc. But so far I am humbled at how well received it has been. So, look forward to more music and dance, but not separated anymore. 

P: Where do you visualise seeing yourself one year from now?

A: Can I tell you one year from now? lol I see myself being an artiste, just more potent.

P: What message would you give to Amanyea at 15 years old?

A: Do not be afraid. Cliché? Yes. But I was so afraid to do all the things I wanted to do, I was afraid of opinions, of being laughed at. Dancing was my comfort zone. I wish I was confident enough to sing, and write. Join clubs just for that. But I was afraid.  Fear is a hell of a thing. 

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Capturing The Jamaican Culture (Shot By Deth)

Photography by Keanu Gordon

To quote words from the most prolific dancehall artist of the 21st century, Vybz Kartel “Dancehall a mi everything”, is a sentiment shared by many both locally and internationally. Within the dancehall sphere, many jobs and opportunities are created, but being able to capture an image of a particular time or occurrence could shift the way we view the dancehall industry or even the Jamaican society itself. This is why photography is considered an art because it literally encapsulates and immortalizes the world in a single shot/moment. Jamaica, being a breeding ground of art, has its fair share of photographers but only a few stand out from the very expressive bunch. The “few” are the ones who possess the capability to instantly evoke an emotion that enables the viewer to create a conversation about/around the story they just saw, that and the unique way that the image is taken and edited. Looking at the artist, dance moves, fashion and just the richness of culture, one is often prompted to ask about the person who is able to put a thousand words into a single image.

Keanu Gordon (Shot By Deth) is a 19-year-old self-taught photographer hailing from the capital city Kingston,  who captures the Jamaican dancehall scene through an artistic millennial purview. His excitingly colorful yet often somber pictures usually showcase somewhat of an x-ray into the content of the image. Seemingly candid, the pictures give a youthful take on the ever so evolving dancehall scene which in my opinion gives international viewers a modern take on the Jamaican culture and dancehall industry. Being this creative with a fresh eye and a unique signature, Keanu has most certainly begun to charter his course in photography and the artistic arena. He is also proof that the memories of particular dancehall happenings will most certainly be preserved.