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Love City Pan Dragons: A Festive Finale to a Year of Remarkable Growth

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The Love City Pan Dragons are gearing up for their much-anticipated Christmas Concert, a vibrant culmination of a year marked by significant growth and renewal. Under the leadership of newly appointed Executive Director Andrea Milam, the ensemble has not only expanded its musical repertoire but also embraced new opportunities for cultural exchange and community engagement.

Andrea Milam, who took the helm as the first paid executive director following a pivotal grant acquisition, has been instrumental in steering the Pan Dragons through a transformative year. With the support of the board, led by Ronald Lee Jr. – a St. John native and Pan Dragons alumnus – Ms. Milam has successfully reinvigorated the group’s presence, notably with their debut in the St. Thomas Children’s Parade after several years.

A standout moment for the Pan Dragons this year was their performance at the Day of Healing during the Congressional Black Caucus’ Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., where they delighted over 3,000 attendees with the enchanting melodies of steel pan music. This trip also included a meaningful interaction with the Cultural Academy for Excellence in Virginia, fostering invaluable connections and inspiring the Pan Dragons’ board to plan similar enriching experiences annually.

The upcoming fundraising concert is not just a celebration but a stepping stone towards a 2024 trip to Antigua. Here, the USVI ensemble will collaborate with Ikema Dyer’s home band, the Cool & Smooth Ebonites, in the renowned Antigua Panorama. This inter-island cultural exchange is eagerly anticipated by both players and the community.

Ronald Lee Jr., an accomplished musician and former student of Victor Provost at George Mason University, is set to charm audiences as the opening act. His unique arrangements, including Mariah Carey’s iconic “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” promise a festive and memorable evening.

As the Love City Pan Dragons aim to raise $50,000 for their Antigua trip, Ms. Milam encourages robust public support at the concert. She highlights the group’s vital role in nurturing young talent and preserving Caribbean culture. Through music, the Pan Dragons foster teamwork, create a supportive community, and keep the rich Caribbean heritage vibrantly alive.

The concert, scheduled for 5 pm on December 23 at the St. John School of the Arts, is more than just a musical event; it’s a celebration of cultural legacy and community spirit. Tickets, priced at $15, are available via phone at (340) 690 – 2420 or through PayPal, offering everyone a chance to be part of this festive and culturally significant occasion.

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The Reggae Community Mourns the Loss of Peter “Peetah” Morgan, Morgan Heritage’s Frontman, at 46

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The reggae world is in mourning after the untimely death of Peter “Peetah” Morgan, the celebrated frontman of the Grammy Award-winning group Morgan Heritage, who has died at the age of 46.

Morgan Heritage, known for their classic hits such as “Don’t Haffi Dread (To Be Rasta),” “Down by the River,” and “She’s Still Loving Me,” announced Peetah’s passing on Sunday. The details surrounding his death have been kept private, but the heartfelt message from his family conveyed their profound loss and love for him.

“Our beloved husband, father, son, brother, and the charismatic lead singer of Morgan Heritage, Peter Anthony Morgan, has sadly left us today,” the Morgan family stated on Instagram. Their message invoked a plea for divine comfort, emphasizing that “love is the only way” through this trying time.

The family’s statement also extended thanks to their fans and community for the outpouring of support and requested prayers during their period of mourning. They further appealed for privacy as they navigate this challenging period of grief.

Morgan Heritage is celebrated for its dynamic contribution to the reggae genre, marked by a rich mix of melodies and thought-provoking lyrics. Formed by the progeny of the legendary reggae artist Denroy Morgan, who passed away in 2022, the band initially featured Peetah alongside Una Morgan, Roy “Gramps” Morgan, Nakhamyah “Lukes” Morgan, and Memmalatel “Mr. Mojo” Morgan.

Their most recent album, “The Homeland,” was unveiled in April 2023, adding to their illustrious discography and continuing their legacy in reggae music.

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Virgin Islander Cathy SitaRam Lights Up Los Angeles with Sci-Fi Spectacle at Pan African Film Festival

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Virgin Islander Cathy SitaRam’s directorial venture, “Gods of the Universe: Rise of the Star Child,” made its grand debut at the prestigious Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, instantly mesmerizing viewers with its innovative storyline and dazzling visual effects. The festival, known for showcasing the cinematic talents of African descent, was the perfect stage for the film’s premiere, highlighting its 23-minute journey through fantasy and science fiction.

The narrative unfolds around two orphaned children with advanced DNA, chosen by alien forces as Earth’s last hope against an impending cosmic disaster. This escapist drama is not just a tale of heroism; it’s a visual feast, filmed against the vibrant backdrops of San Fernando and Siparia in Trinidad and Tobago.

Starring the multifaceted Nickolai Salcedo and featuring the visionary Cathy SitaRam, a native of St. Croix with a rich background in entertainment journalism and production, the film also introduces promising talents Zane Foster and Genesis Belgrove. Their portrayals as the young protagonists bring the story’s heart and courage to life.

The film’s visual splendor is the result of a collaborative effort led by Zimbabwe’s Charles Mawungwa as the Visual Effects Supervisor and supported by Hayden Matheson from Trinidad and Tobago. The ethereal sci-fi ambiance is further enhanced by the creative genius of Jason Riley, the lead Editor and Director of Photography, and Set Director Rebecca Foster.

As part of the Pan African Film Festival’s lineup, running from February 6-19, 2024, “Gods of the Universe: Rise of the Star Child” stood out among over 175 films. The festival, an Oscar Qualifying event, is celebrated for its expansive showcase of films from around the globe, making it a landmark platform for filmmakers of African descent.

The film’s creation received notable backing from the Trinidad and Tobago government’s Film TT and promotional support from the V.I. Department of Tourism. Audience reactions have been overwhelmingly positive, drawing comparisons to iconic franchises like “Star Trek” and acclaiming the film’s imaginative narrative and mastery over visual effects.

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Theron Thomas: A Beacon of Inspiration with 2024 Grammy Songwriter of the Year Award

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Theron Thomas, celebrated as the 2024 Songwriter of the Year (Non-Classical) at the 66th annual Grammy Awards, delivered a powerful message on Sunday night, embodying hope and ambition for the youth of the Virgin Islands and the wider Caribbean. “This victory is a testament to the boundless dreams we can aspire to, irrespective of our origins from small islands,” Thomas expressed, following his prestigious win. This year, Thomas distinguished himself with chart-topping hits such as “Pretty Girls Walk” by Big Boss Vette, “Told Ya” featuring Chlöe & Missy Elliot, and “Been Thinking” by Tyla, propelling him ahead of other notable contenders in his category.

Following his significant contribution to Lizzo’s “About Damn Time,” which clinched the Record of the Year in 2023, Thomas’s talent has consistently been recognized among industry elites. “To be mentioned alongside such revered talents is an honor,” Thomas remarked, acknowledging his peers, including nominee Justin Trantor. His remarkable journey is adorned with collaborations with global icons like Rihanna, Beyonce, and K-Pop’s Jung Kook, to name a few, establishing him as a vanguard of musical innovation.

Thomas is a firm believer in the Virgin Islands’ potential to emerge as a powerhouse in the music industry and across the Caribbean. He praised local artists such as Adam O and Pressure Buss Pipe for leading the charge in showcasing the rich musical heritage of the territory.

Reflecting on his journey, Thomas shared his modest beginnings and aspirations with the Consortium, “My initial goal was simple – to provide for my family. Yet, this journey has evolved into a broader mission to inspire the next generation in the Virgin Islands.” He emphasizes the importance of embracing one’s journey, including the setbacks, as a pathway to growth and improvement.

Commissioner Joseph Boschulte of the Department of Tourism commended Thomas for his dedication and discipline, which culminated in this extraordinary achievement. “Theron Thomas exemplifies the essence of Virgin Islands excellence. His accomplishments reflect our cultural mantra, Naturally in Rhythm, and we are immensely proud of his global recognition,” Boschulte stated.

Governor Albert Bryan also extended heartfelt congratulations to Thomas, celebrating his historical achievement as a moment of great pride for the U.S. Virgin Islands. “Theron’s Grammy win is a monumental achievement not just for him, but for our entire community. It underscores the global impact one individual from our territory can have, affirming the Virgin Islands’ place on the world stage,” Governor Bryan remarked.

Through his groundbreaking achievements, Theron Thomas continues to inspire and elevate the profile of the Virgin Islands, proving that talent, resilience, and hard work can transcend geographical boundaries and resonate globally.

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