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PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Legendary dancehall artist Spragga Benz has been added to the One Love Reggae Concert for Carnival 2016. Already boasting an impressive lineup of artists, organizers completely surprised lovers of the genre with the announcement via social media on Monday.

The concert event will be held on Thursday, April 28 in Carnival Village. It will feature superstar artists Ky-Mani Marley, Alaine, Romain Virgo and Demarco.

With the addition of Spragga Benz to the lineup, Reggae and Dancehall enthusiasts have an event which the promoters have described as “pure, sweet Reggae”. Fans also know Spragga and Ky-Mani from the popular Caribbean movie Shottas.

Spragga began his career around 1991. Once known to his friends as "Spaghetti" (tall and slim), but this was later shortened to Spragga. The Benz in his name comes from the sound system for which he used to work for, L.A. Benz, and it is through this that he found his way into the music industry at a Dubplate recording session with Buju Banton.

The famed elder DJ was slated to do four tracks for L.A. Benz but only voiced two and suggested that Spragga do the other two. Since he was new to recording, he freestyled a couple of lines of what would then become, "Love Mi Gun", a popular tune.

He soon became an in-demand performer for numerous producers, including Bobby Digital, and hits followed with "Could a Deal" (produced by Winston Riley) and "Girls Hooray" (Steely & Clevie).

A series of well-received singles followed, many included on his debut album, Jack It Up (1994). This success led to a deal with Capitol Records, who issued his second album, Uncommonly Smooth, in 1995, featuring duets with Chevelle Franklyn ("A-1 Lover") and "Spanish Harlem" (with Ben E. King).

The album didn't sell well enough for Capitol, who dropped him, after which he spent a few years releasing further singles in Jamaica, also collaborating with the likes of Wyclef Jean and KRS-One. In 1999, he recorded a 'clash' album with Beenie Man, Two Badd DJs, and had a number one Jamaican hit single with "She Nuh Ready Yet (Hype Up)", which was also included on his third album, Fully Loaded (2000).

This album featured duets with Lady Saw (on "Backshot") and Foxy Brown (on "Too Stoosh"), and was co-produced by house music legend Todd Terry. In the same year, Benz made his film acting debut in Brooklyn Babylon, and the following year played a leading role in the gangster film Shottas. 2002 saw the release of his fourth album, Thug Nature.

In 2003, Benz recorded a number of duets, with the likes of Carly Simon and Shannon, with the aim of breaking into the US market. In July 2007, Benz co-hosted the Urban Music Awards in New York with Foxy Brown. Benz was nominated for three awards at the first Caribbean Urban Music Awards, held in Jamaica in April 2008. On 31 August 2010 Spragga Benz released his sixth solo album Shotta Culture.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Director of events/marketing company Montage N.V. Grisha Marten on Sunday congratulated all the performers of the 2016 Soca Rumble competition while lamenting untrue comments that two former monarchs of Soca Rumble are reportedly making publicly.  

Marten lauded the winners of Soca Power King Vers and Soca Groovy The Mighty Dow, for what she termed as “great performances” at a very high level. She also made special mention of the first runner-ups in both categories; Kenyo Baly in the Power Soca category and Magic in the Groovy Soca category. “All of the performers worked hard and they should be congratulated for stepping on stage and giving it all they had,” she said.

Not to take anything away from the 2016 winners, Marten used the opportunity over the weekend to address sentiments that the former Soca Rumble kings did not get what was due to them as winners. She stressed that not only is this untrue, it is wholly ungrateful considering how hard her team has worked to give St. Maarten a solid Soca product.

She explained that both singers received their US $10,000 prize from Starz Casino which was widely publicized in the media. Through her connections, they also received the opportunity to perform at the Miami Broward Carnival on At two events Sunday Oct 11, 2015 and October 12, 2015

“Because of our bureaucratic process in government it was until the last minute they were able to obtain the tickets for the show. This happen the day before. But they arrived and because they were not preregistered they meet up with setback with getting into the place. In the end they got their chance to perform and even made contacts with well-known people in the Soca entertainment industry,” Marten Heyliger said.

Both singers also passed up on opportunities that could have greatly helped their careers. The first was to shoot a professional video clip and the second was signing a contract with Caribbean music label VP records (placing their winning songs on iTunes) which could have opened many doors for the artists.

“Montage N.V. has given the 2015 kings everything that was promised. Their comments or rather lies, are disappointing considering the opportunities afforded to them.” She said she wants to public to understand clearly that the goal of Soca Rumble is to elevate St. Maarten’s Soca music and artists to levels of other well-known Caribbean Soca artists. For this to happen, she added, artists must be disciplined and “hungry”.  

“Our artists must be willing to take that extra step if they truly want to advance their careers. When opportunities present themselves. If the artists are not hungry enough to seize upon opportunities to advance themselves, using the Soca Rumble as a launching platform, then why are we doing Soca Rumble?”

“This is most definitely not a money-making initiative when you look at the commitments to promotion, show production, prizes, ect. We are doing this for St. Maarten music. That should be the ultimate goal. We were hoping that we could get the cooperation from the artists to obtain this goal and we hope we still can,” she concluded.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Carnival 2016 is in full swing and one of the well promoted nights was April 15, the night for the Soca Rumble in the village.

Winning the event was the Mighty Dow Sir Isadore York in the Groovy Division with his song “Doing It”.

The Second winner was King Verse in the Power Soca Division with his song “Pressure”. We spoke to the Mighty Dow who told us that he was elated about this victory.

Meanwhile the promoter of the Soca Rumble Grisha Martin-Heyliger of Montage told our news room that she is satisfied with the show and is now looking forward to the prize giving ceremony.

More now via PodCast.

PHILIPSBURG, St, Maarten - The Carnival Village Cook-Up has drawn quite some interest over the past two years and the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) expects the same for 2016.

The Village Cook-Up pit six booth holders against each other to see who can cook the best SCDF selected dishes. It will be held on Saturday April 30, following the Junior Carnival Parade in Carnival Village.

Unlike previous years, the Cook-Up will be held on stage for in the Village to see and experience.

The six booth holders competing are: Bob Wilkins, Meandra Hazel, Dwain Williams, Sharon Cannegieter, Edward Samuel and Mandy Hassel. The two dishes they will have to prepare are local favorites Conch and Dumplings and Curry Goat with rice and peas.  

A panel of judges will be seated on stage while each booth holder, one by one, bring their dishes to the stage for the judges to sample.  The winner of the Cook-Up will get their booth free of charge for Carnival 2017.

“We started this Cook Up two years ago and folks love it. It gives the winning booth holder some bragging right as well as gives the public some of their favorite dishes in the Village to purchase after the competition is over. It is also lots of fun. We are excited about it again,” the SCDF said.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The opening Jump up for Carnival 2016 was a success.

The Jump-up was held on Thursday April 14th 2016 was scheduled to start at 08.00 p.m., but stared approximately 08.30 p.m.

The jump up left the Reward area via the L.B. Scot road, Church Hill round about, Bush road, Prins Bernard Bridge, Walter Nisbet road, Salt Picker Round About and ended in front of the Festival Village on the Soualiga Boulevard. The jump up arrived on time for the opening ceremony.

The jump up was well attended by carnival revelers and onlookers. There were very few report of fights, disturbances or persons miss-conducting themselves in which the police had to intervene.

What the police have noticed along the route of the jump-up is that there were many persons selling drinks and food out of vehicles on the side of the street. Several of these vendors were selling drinks in glass bottles.

The police are asking all vendors for safety reasons not to sell drinks in glass bottles and to use plastic cups for that purpose. Do Not sell alcohol to a minor which is illegal and can cause you a very heavy fine.

Finally the police department wants to thank and congratulate the entire community for their cooperation and good behavior during this jump-up and is looking forward for the same type of cooperation and conduct over the entire carnival season.

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Port St. Maarten Management, on behalf of the supervisory board of directors, and staff, would like to wish the entire population a Safe and Happy 2016 Carnival celebration under the banner, ‘Come Experience Life.’

Carnival Village opened on Thursday evening, 14 April which kicks off the start of two weeks of national cultural festivities.

Port St. Maarten is doing its part to encourage cruise passengers and crew to visit the Carnival Village.  Between April 14 and May 3rd, close to 82,000 passengers will visit the destination, and this is an opportunity for the aforementioned to enjoy this cultural experience.

Several tour companies and taxis are working with the Port and Carnival organizers to drive business to the village, and Port St. Maarten would like to thank the aforementioned for their leadership in this area with respect to taking the initiative.

In addition, Port St. Maarten is also working with the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation to give away bags with goodies inside to promote cruise passengers and crew to visit the village.

The participation of the cruise sector by the aforementioned patronizing the various booths would add an economic contribution to booth holders which is part of the port’s economic mission statement where it concerns economic development of the country.

Port St. Maarten will do its part in being active during the next two weeks of Carnival celebrations to promote the country’s premier cultural event of the year to cruise passengers and crew about visiting the Carnival Village to experience some of the local cuisine and any activities and events that would be taking place during the day while passengers and crew move around on the island.

The beach promenade and Front Street are in easy walking distance to the Carnival Village and taxi’s and tour operators could also stop by the village during their island tours.

INGOLSTADT The Audi R8 Coupé has been named “2016 World Performance Car” in the World Car Awards. The award ceremony took place during the New York Auto Show.

With a total of four awards, the Audi R8 is the most successful model in the history of the World Car Awards. The predecessor to the R8 had already taken home two World Performance Car awards and a World Car Design of the Year award in the prestigious competition.

Now the second generation of the high-performance sports car from Audi was able to win over the international jury of 73 leading automotive journalists. This makes the Audi R8 a winner – on the road as well as on the racetrack.

“With its distinctive design, its driving dynamics and its closeness to racing, the R8 is one of the strongest calling cards for the four rings and is the flagship car from Audi Sport.

The first generation of the R8 paved our way toward becoming a premium brand and raised the aura of Audi to a new level. The new R8 will continue this success story and further accelerate the growth strategy of Audi Sport,” said Dietmar Voggenreiter, Board Member for Sales and Marketing at AUDI AG.

The Audi R8 Coupé offers more performance than any other Audi production model. The V10 mid-engine and a newly developed quattro drive offer extraordinary driving performance.

The top version, with 610 hp (449 kW), sprints from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in just 3.2 seconds and its maximum speed is 330 km/h (205.1 mph). A high- revving mid-engine, consistent lightweight construction concept and extremely dynamic suspension with quattro drive in addition to fully variable torque vectoring all make the R8 Coupé a truly exceptional car.

The genetics of the Audi R8 contain the know-how acquired from numerous wins by the brand in auto racing: the sport prototypes have won the 24 hours of Le Mans 13 times since 2000, and the R8 LMS contributed seven more overall victories in 24-hour races since 2009.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten – “Come, Experience Life” is the perfect way to describe St. Maarten’s main cultural festival – Carnival, and have an experience of a lifetime is what United People’s (UP) party Member of Parliament (MP) Tamara Leonard wants all revelers to have this Carnival season.

“Carnival on St. Maarten is sweet! St. Maarten knows how to jam. Carnival is a time of unity, fun and enjoyment. We embrace each other and welcome especially our Carnival brothers and sisters to join in and feel the sweetness of the music and the friendliness of our hospitality,” says MP Leonard.

Leonard encourages all Carnival lovers to head to Festival Village throughout the season and to make a special effort to attend the locally focused events. “Carnival is a time for our talent to take centre stage. I encourage everyone to support our own and cheer all of our talent on,” she said.

Amidst the excitement and revelry, Leonard encouraged all Carnival lovers to experience life through responsible fun. “Let’s jam together, have fun together and create great memories to last a lifetime. At the end of the season, let us make plans for next year’s fete,” she said.

St. Maarten has been doing Carnival nice and sweet for 47 years, said Leonard. “Every year St. Maarten Carnival gets better and better and this in thanks in no small part to the team of loyal volunteers connected to St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation who often give their time to make sure all revelers experience life and have incredible and responsible fun,” she said.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - For the first time in Carnival’s history, organized tours will take place for both cruise and overnight passengers to enjoy the Carnival Village.

There will be daytime tours for lunch in the village from 1pm to 3pm as well as nighttime tours of some of the local events including Soca Rumble, Calypso Finals and One Love Reggae Concert.

Some of the tour companies involved are Nexus Tours, Sunwing, Xaro Tours and various Taxi Drivers. Gift bags and some support for entertainment of the guests were provided by the Port of St. Maarten.

“This is an initiative we have envisioned as part of the long-term marketing plan of Carnival, and it is finally happening,” said Rolando Brison, Marketing Director to SCDF, “While we’ve wanted to do this for a long time, the priority was to ensure the product of Carnival was ready to welcome hundreds of tourists to the village every afternoon on organized tours.

Now that we have refined the product and business model, and have the resources in place, we are ready to have organized tours into the Carnival Village with our tourists.

While for many years tourists have visited the village on their own or on the advice of Taxi Drivers, this is the first time that organized tours will be making a stop at the village and provided guided tours of Carnival to them.

The daytime tours will begin with a welcome by an official SCDF member as well as a member of the SCDF Marketing Team. The visitors will be handed over to one of the “Village Tour Guides”.

They will be given a brief history of Carnival and the Village, including the way the village concept started and its various locations over the years on the island, until ultimately its permanent home was built in 2005.

The Harbor has come on board with providing over 2000 gift bags to the tourists as well as entertainment on some days. Island Revelers troupe will be letting tourist dress in headpieces and back-pieces for pictures, and ILTT will be offering Duty Free liquor to the sponsors.

It is expected that anywhere between 25 to 400 tourists will be a part of the organized tours each day, depending on the number of cruise ships in port.

The tourists will then be split into groups and visit various of the booth holders who are open for lunch. The booth holders can tell their story of being a booth holder and present them with some of the signature dishes and drink samples offered to the guests. The last half hour of their tour the tourists will be free to roam the village and have lunch or a drink.

For the night tours, the guests will get to experience some of the key cultural events, including Soca Rumble, Calypso and the One Love Reggae Concert. These will also be in the form of guided tours including dinner and a brief look at backstage. Other promoters can also contact Nexus Tours to have their night events a part of the lineup.

“Involving cruise visitors have always been an initiative we wanted to start. Many visitors have told us that they really didn’t know about Carnival they just happen to be in port at the time. With that in mind we started thinking about what steps we can take to not only market to them but involve them. The tours are just the first step.

We have a much larger goal in mind that we will be working on moving forward. On behalf of the board of the SCDF I extend our deepest gratitude to the tour operators and the Port of St. Maarten for working with us on this initiative which only benefits the destination and the Carnival product,” SCDF Director Mike Granger said.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - This past weekend was packed with Carnival activities as the island prepares for the official opening of Carnival 2016 on the 14 of April.

On Saturday evening Rio Productions presented their yearly event called the "lighted parade" while on Sunday the big bad XP Band won the clash of the bands on Pond Island.

Saturday's "lighted parade" was a huge success stated organizer and brain child of the event Brenda Wathey.

She told our news room that she is very thankful for all the people and entities that participated and made the event another huge success.

More now via PodCast.

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