The overwhelming turnout was evidenced by the "SOLD OUT" sign which greeted many at the entrance of the venue only minutes after the slated 8pm show time. This would be the third staging of what has now become an annual event featuring an impressive lineup and an even more notable cause.
As a victim of breast cancer, Monique 'Mahima' Geourzoung was passionate about the fight against cancer, which inspired her belief in the empowerment of the health care experience. As such Geourzoung created the concept of a live music event to fund the development of the only public oncology hospital in Jamaica, Hope Institute. Sadly, Mahima died on September 30, 2010 at the age of 36, but the turnout for this year's event shows that the support she garnered for the cause is still lives on.
Initially the event was hosted at "The Deck" a popular bar in the New Kingston area; however this year's organizers sought an even bigger affair. Promoters Zen Events collaborated with Grace Blends, Jamaica Arts Holdings, Supreme Systems, Absolute Entertainment, Caribtix, The Jamaica Pegasus and members of the entertainment industry to create a star studded benefit concert to raise funds for Hope Institute.
Proceeds from ticket sales supported the fund raising effort; however patrons were also given the option to pledge a donation. Among the masses were several very familiar faces from the entertainment industry. Promoters, public figures and artistes including Keida, Serani and Bling Dawg mingled with the crowd. However it was the stars on stage that made the night unforgettable. Performances flowed through the night guided by mistress of ceremonies Claudette Powell. Marcus I kicked off the night, followed by a mellow performance from the group Blue Grass in the Sky which set the tone for the show.
The crowd witnessed a surprise performance from Farenheit, who has kept a considerably low profile lately while promoting his club series Brand New Machine in Kingston, Montego Bay and New York. The singer who is now back in the studio with producer Supa Hype, took the stage with a rendition of Frank Ocean's Swim Good, and continued with a well received set that had the crowd singing along.
Up and coming vocalist Janine 'Jah9' Cunningham, known for her uniquely haunting vocals and socially conscious lyrics, was on next. Fans were entranced by her prowess as she delivered messages through song, like the cautionary Stay out of Harm's Way.
Always a favourite, Chino followed and had everyone grooving. Opening with an acoustic version of Nuh Put Nuh Woman Pon Yuh Head, the crooner unraveled song after song to the pleasure of the audience members. Fresh off tour Chino described his involvement in the concert as a 'no brainer' saying, "It's a worthy cause. Artistes aren't just looked upon as entertainers but also as role models, so we have to show our support through our talent."
Jamaica's own diva, Cherine Anderson represented for the ladies. The songstress and her band The Rockfort Rebels delivered a high energy performance keeping the crowd captivated with each song, including Real Love, Rebel, Eagles and Doves and Bob Marley's Redemption Song. Cherine encouraged Iriezine readers to be aware of breast cancer, "Women let us make a committed effort to take care of ourselves and men too, help your women to take care of themselves," highlighting the fact that a significant amount of breast cancer lumps are found by women's partners.
Next Tarrus Riley went to work on MAHIMA stage. Met by welcoming cheers from the crowd as he began the lyrics of Lion Paw, Riley delivered a continuous onslaught of hits, leaving the crowd frenzied alongside band member, legendary saxophonist Dean Fraser. The two explained their genuine support of cancer awareness to Iriezine , as one of their back-up singers is now battling with the illness. Riley, who is in the process of shooting videos for singles Come Over and Armageddon said, "We should all love and take care of ourselves as a preventative measure".
Reggae veterans Chalice brought the crowd back into a meditative state as they graced the stage performing classics from their 30 plus years catalogue. Protoje followed, quickly establishing himself as another crowd favorite, singing popular tracks No Lipstick and Rasta Love from his Seven Year Itch album. "Reggae music is alive" proclaimed the budding new artiste who has been making waves in the local music industry. He commended the audience for their support and expressed his joy at seeing Jamaicans unite for such an important cause.
In the wee hours of the morning a newly wed Jah Cure emerged on to the stage, his powerful voice arousing the ( by then) lethargic crowd as he belted Prison Walls and Longing For among other hits. "I'm supporting more life innuh. I make world music and this is a worldly cause so I have to give my support and do anything to fund the program," Cure explained.
Rootz Underground who have been MAHIMA performers since its inception, closed the show. Stephen Newland, lead singer of the band (which was credited for being a part of the inspiration for the concert) stated "Rasta is Life. Our dear friend fell victim to cancer so we have to continue this cause and celebrate with her in spirit."
Mahima Music for Life proved to be not only an excellent stage show, but also an excellent means of spreading cancer awareness. The concert's unification of the corporate world, the entertainment industry and the public serves as a testament to the indomitable spirit of Mahima herself.