Jamaican-Canadian singer Naomi Cowan’s single release party in Toronto, in partnership with the Sandals Foundation, turned into a fundraiser for hurricane relief victims. Listen to the original song and the official new release of ‘Things You Say You Love’.
Cowan says she was hesitant to release her song at first and had already pushed back the release date by a few weeks after Hurricane Irma passed over the Caribbean. It then occurred to her that this was a way to bring attention to the work being done in the Caribbean to benefit the islands devastated by Hurricane Irma and Maria.
“I literally didn’t want to put my song out at all as I thought it would have been selfish to draw attention to myself at a time like this. A little voice inside reminded me that my personal motto is ‘Speak, Sing, Give’, so I needed to quickly find a way to pair my music with existing efforts being made to provide assistance in any way I could,” says Cowan.
The singer, who was Miss Teen Jamaica 2004 said, “during the time of Hurricane Irma, I would be driving around my hometown in Kingston, Jamaica and looking at how pristine and lush our island looked in comparison to all that I was seeing on the news – it felt very unfair to know that we were unharmed while others were struggling, I personally felt helpless and I was saddened by the events in a way I’ve never experienced before,” adds Cowan.
She decided to partner with The Sandals Foundation, a branch of the Sandals Resorts International, the parent company of Sandals, Beaches and Grand Pineapple Beach resorts, who have a stellar reputation for using their brand power to support sustainable environment, education and community projects across the Caribbean in places like Antigua and Barbuda, Turks and Caicos, Dominica, and the Bahamas, particularly after natural disasters.
Torontonians, Jamaicans, some high-profile influencers in the music and TV industries, including: Steve Wilson, manager of infamous reggae artist Sean Paul; City TV producer Kate Moore; CBC and Apple Music media producer Alex Narvaez, actors Harry Shum Jr. and Isaiah Mufasa from the American supernatural drama television series ‘ShadowHunters’; Aisha Porter-Christie, writer on ShadowHunters, Orphan Black and CBC’s Frankie Drake; and Mark Josephs and his mother Glenor Josephs, the president and founders of Kisko, attended the event.
Cowan gave the audience what they came to hear, a sneak peek of upcoming music. She performed her brand new single Things You Say You Love (original ska/rocksteady version of Things You Say You Love on YouTube), a song tied to her family legacy in reggae music. The song was co-written 50 years ago by her father, the legendary composer, performer, recording engineer and talent manager Tommy Cowan.
Cowan delivers a silk and ice version of the rocksteady classic featuring Mark Pelli of the pop-reggae band Magic! She sounds like she’s singing out from 1967 when the single was first released by The Jamaicans. The icy tone of her voice melts your defences. You believe her when she says “the things you say you love, you’re gonna lose,” before abandoning the rocksteady beat to play with your emotions by introducing bars of dancehall in the middle of the song. You feel a dance of tension from the interplay between Pelli and Cowan, from the vocal shuffle between them, but the beat and Cowan’s voice, although cold, warms your soul.
Pelli is the producer and arranger on the single, released on Talent Incorporated, a label founded by Cowan’s father. Here is the official audio of the song.
Naomi Cowan in Things You Say You Love, feat. Mark Pelli, on YouTube
Toronto is also significant to Cowan because her mother, the iconic balladeer Carlene Davis, started her reggae music career in the city back in the late 70s with the release of her first single, a version of I’m leaving on a Jet Plane and then Jimmy Cliff’s The Harder They Come before moving back to Jamaica in 1980 where she and her husband pursue their careers in gospel music.
Cowan’s new single has received positive reviews from listeners and leading members of the music industry for its production value and Cowan’s vocal performance.
At the event held at The Pint Public House in October, one of the company’s representatives, Karen Zacca, a project coordinator for the foundation, confirmed that “one hundred per cent of any donation received during the event will go toward investing in recovery and rebuilding efforts being made by The Sandals Foundation.”
Cowan will continue to support the hurricane relief effort through other means. Tmrw.Tday Culture Fest, a Jamaican music, art and wellness event taking place on Negril’s Seven Mile Beach from May 1-6, 2018, at which Cowan is performing will receive donations from her ticket sales. The festival has provided her with a unique link that she can share with her networks for online ticket sales. This means that 10 per cent of tickets sold from that unique link will go toward The Sandals Foundation to help communities through a difficult time: http://bit.ly/tmrwtday18naomi.
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