African-born musician to make his first major appearance in Jamaica

Akon album coverGhetto’, ‘Locked Up’ and now ‘Lonely’ heralded the arrival of hip-hop’s newest ‘it’ boy, Akon, on the radio airwaves around the world. In Jamaica, his music has rocked the dancehall and moved the masses like few others before him.

Akon is therefore a natural choice for Red Stripe Reggae Sumfest slated for July 17 – 23 in Montego Bay. With the support of leading sponsors, Red Stripe, bMobile and Wata, the week long festival offers a variety of events at three venues in the resort city of Montego Bay.

Akon launched himself through his debut album, ‘Trouble’. “‘Trouble’ evolved from the struggles I went through and what I did and am still doing to correct those things,” offers Akon, who has had his fair share of adolescent problems with both the legal and school systems, as is reflected in his redemption song ‘Trouble Nobody’. “I’ve got a habit of writing about everything I go through,” he explains, “and this album gives a glimpse of where I am now.”

His third and most recent single, ‘Lonely’ topped the UK charts; the hit ballad milks a vintage Bobby Vinton sample and shows how sharp his pop sensibilities are. Akon hails from a strong musical background; his father, Mor Thiam, is renowned as a master percussionist from Dakar, Senegal where Akon called home for seven years before moving to the United States.

In the US, Akon had a troubled childhood and eventually spent three years in prison before returning to his musical roots. “I was one of the original members of the Refugee Camp,” explained Akon whose vocals can be heard on the landmark hip hop album, ‘The Score’ by The Fugees. Though African by birth, Akon has a strong affinity to the Caribbean and has reached out to several Jamaican acts. Akon recorded a remix to his worldwide hit track ‘Ghetto’ with dancehall group T.O.K. and has shared the stage with Mr. “Up To The Time” himself, Vybz Kartel.

Red Stripe Reggae Sumfest gets started at the Rose Hall Beach Club on Sunday, July 17. Wednesday’s rockers night takes place at Pier One with performances by John Holt, the Mighty Diamonds, Gregory Isaacs, Judy Mowatt and other luminary foundation entertainers. The festival then moves to the main stage for the three primary concert nights: Thursday to Saturday. Confirmed local acts slated to deliver this year are: Capleton, Elephant Man, Lady Saw, and Macka Diamond. Damian “Junior Gong” Marley is also scheduled to perform with an appearance by Stephen Marley. Akon, Fabolous, and Ciara fly in to join other local acts Luciano, Morgan Heritage, Tami Chynn, and Grammy Award winning Toots and the Maytals on the stage.

Reggae Sumfest is sponsored by: the title sponsor Red Stripe, platinum sponsors the Jamaica Tourist Board, b Mobile and Air Jamaica. Gold sponsors are Wata, Bigga, Ocean Spray, Half Moon, Holiday Inn and Wyndham Rose Hall. The media sponsors are CVM Communications Group (CVM TV, Hot 102), RJR, FAME, Radio 92, IRIE FM, and Associate sponsors are Comtech, Courts and Continental Airlines.