Empresses Shine at Kingston 12 Studio in L.A.
As a reggae journalist based in L.A., I’m blessed to attend many irie reggae-happenings.
At the end of March—March 26 exactly, at the legendary singer Shinehead and DJ Papalotl (a.k.a. Buttahfly)’s Kingston 12 Hi-Fi Studio, located at 121 East 18th Street, in downtown Los Angeles—there was a soulful and enriching reggae get-together I attended, one that deserves to be memorialized for posterity.
Billed as Empress Corner: Live Performances by L.A. Women in Reggae, the evening featured extremely talented female vocalists with diverse, impressive, worldly, and to say the very least, interesting backgrounds. For example, there was Queen Nzingha—decked out in a stunning and regal turquoise gown—whose new album Black Power features legendary drummer Santa Davis, and legendary bassist Haile Maskel. Queen Nzingha’s powerful performance was accompanied by melodic, effortless-looking saxophone-playing by the highly skilled Cedric Bravo.
Other entertaining performers included: Ryo Vibes (who has worked as a sometimes-assistant to legendary dub pioneer and sound engineer, Scientist, a.k.a. Hopeton Brown); Queen Tamatria (an accomplished sailor and singer, as royally and beautifully garbed as Queen Nzingha); Lady Bea (the spirited MC for the evening, she sang a number of stirring original tunes she’s recorded); B the Lioness (who sang rousing renditions of Johnny Osbourne’s Truth & Rights, and the Soul Syndicate’s Marijuana); Ladee Dee (a popular performer on the L.A. reggae scene); Empress Indika (who is scheduled to performer along with Bushman at L.A.’s 2023 “International Peter Tosh Day”); Empress Akua (whose first single It’s Cold Out There was released in July 2017 on the Issachar Muzik label); Jahmiroc (a last-minute, but welcome and exciting add-on); and finally, DJ Papalotl/Buttahfly (the mastermind of the evening together with her partner and co-studio owner, Shinehead). Buttahfly and Shinehead’s positive energy and presence could be felt throughout the evening, behind the scenes, making sure the sounds and vibes—at all times—were surpassingly nice.
Congratulations to all the artists who made it a special, warm night—one filled with righteous music and fun. And bless up Kingston 12 Hi-Fi Sound System for a dynamic, pleasing show. I couldn’t stay as long as I wanted to, but nevertheless I hope reggae fans will enjoy the video footage and photos I took (with additional media graciously provided by Buttahfly)—included with this synopsis—to document the evening. Give thanks!