Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pre-Grammy fun - swag and parties

It is Grammy weekend people and that means celebs, style and lots of free swag (lucky, lucky them!).

Islandistas Rihanna and Melanie Fiona have been out and about this weekend, scooping up goodies in swag booth, and hitting the pre-parties - both to perform and to party.

Rihanna worked this architectural tulle Viktor & Rolf dress to Clive Davis' famous Grammy pre-party. It's a very hmmm... dress. Like hmmm do I love this bold fashion foray or hmmm is this just absurd? 

[caption id="attachment_1972" align="aligncenter" width="355" caption="Photo credit:"][/caption]

Ri-ri always pushes the fashion envelope, though doesn't she? Our thought was -how do you do anything that involves your left arm or left side in this dress? Can she even see over her shoulder to that person getting scrunched by tulle on her left?

[caption id="attachment_1970" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="photo credit:"][/caption]


She was in a much more laid back outfit earlier on the day while grabbing some free stuff from the swag booth set up for the Grammys, getting a home stereo system hook up and fittingly - some Marley Coffee.

Melanie Fiona was also turning her swag on and getting some free goodies.

She also hit the stage for the SRC Pre-Grammy party.

[caption id="attachment_1975" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Photo credit: @KaRaMaRiE_2009/"][/caption]


And of course, check Islandista later for more Grammy suss and style!

Model behaviour: Naomi for Haiti, Jeneil's nude cover & more

[caption id="attachment_1964" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="Photo credit:"][/caption]

Islandista born and descended models have started 2010 as busy as they were in 2009.

The queen of them all, Brit-yaadie Naomi Campbell has been working hard at putting together her annual Fashion for Relief show, which will benefit Haiti this year.

She is teaming up with Sarah Brown, wife of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown for the show which will take place during London Fashion Week.

Thus far, Naomi has brought on fashion friends Dolce & Gabbana, Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood for the event which takes place on February 18th.

She was out and about this week doing interviews and photo calls for the event.

Say what you want about Naomi (and yes, there is nuff to say) but her heart is as big as her temper. She has always worked hard for charity causes.

In more islandista model news, fellow Jamaican models Jeneil Williams and Jaunel McKenzie are going hard for 2010 - already. More on their blazing start to 2010 when you read on.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Fashion notes - Anya's comeback & Rihanna's Caribbean designer

You know what they say ... 'don't call it a comeback' but ...

Scandal-hit former Miss Trinidad Universe, Anya Ayoung-Chee seems determined to do just that, with the launch of the second collection of her Pilar line last night.

She teamed up with one of T&T's 'grand dames' of fashion, Meiling for a dual Carnival collection line which was showcased at the Meiling boutique in Kapok Hotel.

We haven't seen any pics as yet but we're interested in seeing what the reaction will be. Anya's first Pilar collection was actually pretty well received and her star was on the rise until the sex tape controversy that shifted the attention to her bedroom abilities rather than her design chops.

Remember also that it was alleged by Wyatt Gallery (her boyfriend and partner in the sex tape) that the tape was leaked by someone trying to sabotage Anya's rise in fashion.

So let's hope it is a comeback.

In more Caribbean fashion notes - Rihanna has tapped a designer of Caribbean heritage - Vincy-descended Celeste Johnny of Johnny Vincent, for her swimwear. More on that after the cut.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

10-1 is murder!

Or so Sparrow said.

Yet, despite a 10-1 drubbing by Kamla in the UNC leadership elections, Bas, like Denyse Plummer, 'nah leaving.'

Not yet.

Kamla polled 13, 929 votes to Panday's 1,359 votes - or more than 10 times as many votes as the Silver Fox.

But he made it clear in an interview with the Trinidad Express that he will not be relinquishing the Opposition Leader post gracefully.

The Express article is (perhaps unwittingly) hil-ar-ious.

Every other paragraph starts with "told that" and "asked that" and have Panday stonewalling in the most creative ways possible.

An example:
Yesterday, faced with the enormity of his defeat at the UNC polls and the strength of Persad-Bissessar’s mandate to lead, Panday insisted on playing it by the book-pointing out that he was following the country’s Constitution and the UNC’s constitution. And neither say that the Political Leader has to be Opposition Leader.

Told that there was strong view that it would be difficult for him to continue as Opposition Leader in the face of his comprehensive defeat as Political Leader, Panday said: ’I would have thought that they were two different things. I became Leader of the Opposition because of a national election. Now this is a party election and I think they are two different things. Don’t you?’

Told that there was a view that there was an organic connection between the mandate from the party and the mandate from the general electorate, Panday insisted he was following democratic law.

’I accept the democratic decision of the UNC electorate and I would accept the democratic decisions of the UNC Parliamentarians,’ he said.

Asked whether he did not think he should relieve the MPs from the burden of making a decision about his future as Opposition Leader (by resigning), Panday said: ’No.’

Told that new Chairman Jack Warner said he should do the honourable thing, Panday started saying: ’Jack Warner and honourable should not be used ... Anyway the issue is one (post), is (based on) a party election and the other is the result of a national election.’

Told that while that was the legal position, the issue was whether it would be immoral for him to hold on as Opposition Leader in the face of the strong endorsement for Persad-Bissessar from the party electorate, Panday asked: ’Whose morals are you referring to? Yours or mine?’

And so it goes, on and on. Not that I think we expected any different. Kamla have to hold strong now.

Monday, January 25, 2010

It's Kamla!

She finally did it.

Kamla Persad-Bissessar is now the first woman to lead a major political party in Trinidad's history, after winning the leadership of the UNC last night in a landslide.

She came out of the shadows of her former political mentor,  Basdeo Panday and withstood the attacks from her parliamentary colleagues, most of whom sided with party founder Panday, to prevail as the people's choice.

Not only that, but the entire slate of her backers won spots on the executive as well.

Kamla immediately spoke of the need to heal and unite the party, offering an olive branch to those she defeated:
"In the heart of a campaign, people say things that may offend. But as a mother, a wife, a sister and a daughter, I know how to forgive. I hold no animosity against you."

Of course... the Silver Fox was not quite as gracious in defeat.Before the final results were announced, but when things were already looking grim, the Express asked him if he was ready to offer congratulations to Kamla. Bas had this response:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

DNA test shows Jah Cure's NOT the daddy


And so it has come to pass, nearly a year and a half after we first raised our eyebrows at the painful and foolish pronouncements of Jah Cure's alleged baby mother and known party girl, Gordene... and got blasted for it by Gordene's cyber friends, cousins and assorted supporters.

Turns out that Cure is NOT the father of Gordene's now 10 month old baby girl... which many suspected all along.

Cure released a statement yesterday, trying to quash the whole passa passa which had Jamaica in a tizzy for the last week or so,  saying:
There have been recent media reports about a DNA test result that involved Jah Cure. While not wishing to join the media circus that has ensued because of these revelations, Jah Cure wishes to outline a few facts and settle the matter once and for all.

Jah Cure has supported the mother throughout her pregnancy and had his father and manager be with her at the time of delivery in the US. His support for her throughout this period was unwavering.

Before the birth of the child Jah Cure requested a DNA test, a request which the mother refused. Despite this, Jah Cure continued to support the child and the mother.

Now that the DNA test has been done and it has been shown that he is not the father, Jah Cure wishes to move on. The fact is that the most important individual in this whole affair is the child and the longer that this continues the more damage is being done to the child. Jah Cure will not now abandon the child but wishes that the media respect the privacy of the parties as the child is indeed innocent and did not contribute to the mistakes of the adults involved."

What a ting...

There's not much more to add to that.

Except... what a shame. That a presumably intelligent girl (as we noted back in our original post, Gordene is an Andrews girl) would turn to such slack and desperate groupie tactics - and with a man fresh out of jail (and all that portends) too.

Fix up yu life, dear.

Island folk part of massive Hope for Haiti telethon

And I can't tell you how...  how moved I am that everybody cares. It means a lot because for so long, no one cared. For so long, no one knew us. And this really means a lot.

- Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon

[caption id="attachment_1937" align="aligncenter" width="405" caption="Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon (at right) on LKL, along with Ben Stiller (left) and Benicio Del Toro (center)."][/caption]

Those were the words from a tearful Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon earlier this week on Larry King Live, during a mini telethon which CNN held to raise funds to aid Haiti which was ripped apart by a huge earthquake on January 12th.

Islandistas, we have to tell you -  Garcelle's words really grabbed us - the emotion in her voice when she said "no one cared... no one knew us" was really moving. It made us think of the burden and conflicted emotions that her and other Haitians have to bear loving a country that can be so unremittingly sad.

[caption id="attachment_1938" align="aligncenter" width="405" caption="Distraught: Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon manning the phones at CNN's telethon. (Photo credit: CNN)"][/caption]

This is really what it had to come to for the world to look at Ayiti, to pay attention to the injustices that have been wrought upon it since they first declared independence in 1804.

But at least now they are looking.

And a huge cast of stars, including island folk in Wyclef Jean, Rihanna and Alicia Keys are getting together tomorrow night for what could be one of the biggest telethons of all time - the Hope for Haiti telethon, spearheaded by George Clooney and MTV Networks.

Brand new Shontelle:Licky video premiere & new single

Islandista Shontelle has been hard at work, prepping her sophomore album - the follow up to her moderately successful debut, Shontelligence.

Her music video for her lead single, Licky (which was released in October) was released last week (see above), while the power ballad-ish song Impossible was released online earlier this month.

Our thoughts on it all and the Impossible single after the cut.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Islandistas at the Golden Globes

While film award ceremonies are not usually as big islandista spotting grounds as music awards, Sunday's Golden Globes did turn up a few islandistas at the ceremony and at the after-parties.

Chief among them of course, was Zoe Saldana. You would well know from checking islandista that Zoe can do no wrong on the red carpet - honestly we have not seen a bad outfit from her since 19-how long. She always bring it and she did again for the Globes, where the mega block-buster she starred in, Avatar, took the top awards of the night - best director for James Cameron and best motion picture drama. We're going to give you two looks at her raw-edged, ruffled, scarlet Louis Vuitton dress.

[caption id="attachment_1927" align="aligncenter" width="320" caption="Zoe poses with the two Golden Globe awards won by Avatar."][/caption]

Do 'um girl!

Guyanese-descended Leona Lewis, also part of the Avatar crew as she sang its theme song 'I See You', was also in fine form in a deep purple satin Roberto Cavalli with a lovely fold detail at the bodice.

And Haitian-American actress Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon was out at the InStyle Golden Globe after party in a form-fitting black and flesh toned dress. Good thing Garcelle have form to fit because this dress could be dicey on anyone a bit skinny or a bit plump.

Monday, January 18, 2010

UPDATE: Wyclef defends Yele at NYC press conference

[caption id="attachment_1921" align="aligncenter" width="345" caption="photo credit: AP/ Diane Bondareff"][/caption]

In our last post, we spoke about how the chorus of cynics had been threatening to swamp all the good that Haitian-American musician Wyclef Jean's Yele Haiti charity has been doing.

Well it seems now that the tide may be turning.

Wyclef held a press conference in New York City today where he  defended Yele and his role in it, breaking down in tears towards the end as he spoke in Creole to the Haitians listening.

Yele President Hugh Locke, defending the charity in more detail, admitted they had been lax on their accounting.
"On the books, it looks as though there was a benefit, but there was not. "It was not done with the intent to do anything other than be efficient.

... We should have been on top of it; we were not."

Even more importantly, significant charity and tax accounting experts have come to Yele's defence as well.

In a CNN report, Marcus Owen, former chief of the IRS unit that oversees non-profits, noted that like Yele did with the Wyclef concert at the center of the controversy, it is routine for individuals to charge their own charities, as long as services are being provided in return.

The report also stated that Owen pointed out that the filing which stated that Yele's rent charges were 'below market' was "an important distinction supporting legitimacy" as "rules require that they be at no more than market value."

Other experts were willing to give Yele the bligh they deserve as well.

Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy in Chicago said:
"They could be well-intentioned, but not take [tax] reporting seriously."

Art Taylor, chief executive of the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance noted that Wyclef's star power and links in Haiti were crucial for Haiti in the long run.
"Maybe six months to a year from now, when the attention of the world turns away from Haiti and moves to something else, his value as a Haitian and a celebrity will be far greater than it is now."

UPDATED: Wyclef under attack: doubts raised about Yele Haiti

It  has been less than a week since Haiti, a member of our Caribbean family, was hit by an absolutely devastating earthquake.

But already the cynics' chorus is tuning up.

On Thursday (two days after), The Smoking Gun website launched a salvo with an article entitled 'Wyclef Jean Charity's Funny Money', claiming that Jean's Yele Haiti charity "has enriched the singer."

They based their charges on an assessment of Yele's tax returns and wrote:
As seen on the following pages from the foundation's 2006 tax return, the group paid $31,200 in rent to Platinum Sound, a Manhattan recording studio owned by Jean and Jerry Duplessis, who, like Jean, is a foundation board member. A $31,200 rent payment was also made in 2007 to Platinum Sound. The rent, tax returns assure, "is priced below market value." The recording studio also was paid $100,000 in 2006 for the "musical performance services of Wyclef Jean at a benefit concert." That six-figure payout, the tax return noted, "was substantially less than market value." The return, of course, does not address why Jean needed to be paid to perform at his own charity's fundraiser. But the largest 2006 payout--a whopping $250,000--went to Telemax, S.A., a for-profit Haiti company in which Jean and Duplessis were said to "own a controlling interest." The money covered "pre-purchased...TV airtime and production services" that were part of the foundation's "outreach efforts" in Haiti.

Wyclef of course, hit back on his return from Haiti, where he has been digging bodies out of the rubble and so on, in the video posted at top, where he gave answers to the questions raised by TSG.

Chief was the claim that he had used Yele Haiti to enrich himself, as claimed by TSG, based on the $100 000 payout in 06 for the charity concert. Wyclef makes it clear this payment was not for himself but for production costs:
"Whatever show you're doing, there's what's called production for the show. You can't do a show without production. You need lights, you need a stage. Where's the band going to come from? You need a manager, you need a tour manager. All of these things have to be accounted for."

Which to us here at Islandista seems like a pretty reasonable explanation. As we look at the evidence, it seems the only thing Yele has been 'guilty' of is being late with their accounting - and not being a professional charity that has been in the 'charity business' for a long time, this is understandable.

Even leading charity ranking site, Charity Navigator, which is itself a bit suspicious of Yele, admitted that "charities are often not especially timely in filing these documents."

They also went on to note that some 69% of Yele's funds goes to program expenses (this is as opposed to administrative overhead costs), though they pointed out that their "research shows the most efficient charities spend at least 75%".

As far as we can see it, the situation is this. Yele Haiti is a relatively new charity organisation and may not be run by people who are in the professional charity business, hence it has a surfeit of enthusiasm and a deficit of efficiency. It needs to improve its administrative and accounting practices, certainly but it does not deserve the accusations and allegations being made of it, especially at a time like this.

And especially when Wyclef, as Haiti's most famous son, has the influence and native contacts to do things in Haiti that other NGOs don't.

Interestingly enough, several experts have written about this same problem which charities often face - that is, people questioning their effectiveness, using overhead expenses as the ONLY measure.

While that is an easy indicator, it cannot be the only measure of whether a charity is doing good work.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Destra welcomes her baby girl

Islandista and soca mummy Destra Garcia gave birth to her baby girl, Xaiya yesterday, almost exactly at full term.

The Express in Trinidad reported that the baby, who weighed in at 6 lbs and 15 oz, came a day earlier than her due date - wha kinda island baby little Xaiya is, being so prompt?!

Mother and child are doing well after a long labour for Miss Sassiness, who told the Express:

’It was everything I thought it would be. Now I have to learn how to be a good mum. She is so innocent. Right now she is just sleeping a lot.’

Congrats Destra and looking forward to seeing you back out next Carnival!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Oh Ayiti...

There are no words we really have tonight to express the sorrow and dread we feel for our Caribbean sisters and brothers in Haiti after the earthquake which hit hours ago.

I'm sure every true Caribbean person felt the same way: "Why Haiti? Of all places, why Haiti?"

Is like ... oh gawd nah... dey cyan get a lil bligh? Not even a lil one?

We're heartbroken. We're afraid of what horrors daylight will reveal. We're vex and want to shake our fists at the powers that be, both spiritual and temporal, who seem to have turned their backs on Toussaint and Dessalines' proud republic.

And the lyrics of the bard of Trinidad David Rudder's song rings even truer tonight in our heads.
Haiti we're sorry,

Haiti we're so sorry.

One day we'll turn our heads

Restore your glory.

Mwen desole Ayiti.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Naomi turns down reality show gig?

We here at Islandista are devastated... devastated we tell you!

After getting our hopes up that our favourite scary islandista supermodel Naomi Campbell was going to host a UK version of Top Model, they are being cruelly dashed.

A report that came out yesterday in the UK's Daily Mail says that the phone-tossing bad gyal turned down the offer at the last minute, with a source claiming:
'The producers felt the last series wasn't taken as seriously as the American version because presenter Lisa Snowdon just couldn't carry it off on her own.

'What was missing was a real diva supermodel, a British equivalent to US host Tyra Banks.

'Naomi was really excited, but pulled out because she couldn't reach an agreement over logistics or the amount of time she would have to commit.'

Sigh... We knew it was too good to be true. Guess spending time with her billionaire Russian boyfriend takes priority over hosting a show... shoot, we know which one is the more lucrative position.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

To Bey or not to Bey?

Ok, ok, that isn't really the question because there is no way in hell that TSTT, Brian Lara and Dwight Yorke are going to give up the big money bound to come in from the Beyonce concert scheduled for two days after Trini Carnival.

Especially not with the US$200 VVIP tickets sold out on the first day.

But with all the bacchanal swirling around the concert in Trinidad, what with concert promoters bawling out that it is going to hurt their business and people querying how the state-owned TSTT could be funding the concert over Carnival, we want to know what islandistas think.

On the one hand, we can definitely see the perspective of the promoters, because the Beyonce concert is going to suck out money that would have been going their way. Lawd knows Carnival is expensive as it is so people are going to have to pick between a fete (or two) and the Beyonce show.

On the other hand, we can also see this being a plus for Trinidad Carnival on the whole by bumping up the number of islandistas (and islandistos) that may decide to fly in for the festivities, since they can take in the concert same time.

And with Machel and Destra being out of Carnival this year and Alternative Concept squashed, this might be the crowd-puller that Carnival needs in these recessionary times...

What says you, islandistas?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ri-ri getting kissy with new man?

Can the choir say AMENNN?

[caption id="attachment_1897" align="alignleft" width="265" caption="Photo credit: SplashNewsOnline/"][/caption]

It seems after the annus horriblis of 2009, Rihanna is finally moving on in love  - in fact, in Combermerian style, she's moving up and on, since her new man, L.A. Dodgers baseball player Matt Kemp, definitely seems like an upgrade.

According to gossip sources, she has been spotted out with him on several occasions recently, including Christmas shopping and out at a comedy club.

And now today, they were photographed together heading out at L.A.X Airport and TMZ posted some blurry pics a while ago seemingly of them getting kissy. Plus Rihanna fan site Rihanna Daily has some snaps of them getting steamy in a hot tub.

Interestingly enough, within hours, pictures leaked of her ex Chris Brown looking couple-y with a chick that people are saying is new Guyanese-Canadian N.E.R.D. member Rhea.

So he's still into Caribbean (and more specifically part-Guyanese) chicks still then? Please, do leave out the islandistas.

More pics of Rihanna and her may be new boo under the cut.

Is it about time for Kamla?

Woman time now? Kamla Persad-Bissessar

We don't discuss politics much on Islandista, namely because women are still quite under-represented in our regional houses of assembly, so there's not as much to discuss as we'd like.

And quite often, where women aren't under-represented, they are undermined. There have been many capable and intelligent Caribbean female politicians who have waited and waited in the shadows of charismatic male political leaders/mentors to get their chance at leadership, only to be undermined in some way or form - usually by the same mentor who can't let go of power.

Former Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller knows all about it. Barbados' Opposition Leader Mia Mottley is now learning about it.

But Trinidad & Tobago's Opposition MP Kamla Persad-Bissessar could write the book on it.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Rachel Christie speaks out: 'So ashamed'

Two months after her nightclub brawl with Miss Manchester, Sara Jones over a man ended former Miss England Rachel Christie's reign, she is speaking out with her side of the story.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Rachel, who will find out on January 11th whether she will be charged or not, does not seem to deny that she gave Miss Manchester a beat down but claims the two of them had beef which Sara started.

She says that it all started when she met the man in the centre of the brouhaha, reality tv contest, David 'Tornado' Mcintosh, at an event in August, where Sara was as well.

Rachel claims she "didn't know they were together" and that soon after David started "messaging and phoning" and she agreed to go out with him.

That was when everything kicked off, she told the Mail.

Islandistas head to the beaches of Barbados

Islandistas flocked to the beaches of Barbados during the Christmas season.

Besides the obvious like Barbados' Rihanna who swooped in for a super-short family visit for Christmas, X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke and new Sugababe Jade Ewen also have been spotted vacationing in Bim.

The latter two were among a mini British holiday invasion, as a host of non-islandista British celebs also flocked to the island - Simon Cowell, TopShop billionaire Sir Philip Green, Jude Law and Sienna Miller, among others.