Fri | Apr 19, 2024

Romain launches ‘The Gentle Man’

Unveiled as brand ambassador for Johnnie Walker

Published:Sunday | March 3, 2024 | 12:06 AMYasmine Peru - Sunday Gleaner Writer
Romain Virgo (left) and manager Nicholas ‘Niko’ Browne at the album launch for Virgo’s ‘The Gentle Man’.
Romain Virgo (left) and manager Nicholas ‘Niko’ Browne at the album launch for Virgo’s ‘The Gentle Man’.
From left: Nadine Hylton, brand manager, Johnnie Walker; Sean Wallace, head of commerce, Red Stripe; host Jadeen ‘Jade’ McGhee and Lasana Wilson, junior brand manager, Johnnie Walker.
From left: Nadine Hylton, brand manager, Johnnie Walker; Sean Wallace, head of commerce, Red Stripe; host Jadeen ‘Jade’ McGhee and Lasana Wilson, junior brand manager, Johnnie Walker.
Ras-I embraces Romain Virgo (left) on stage.
Ras-I embraces Romain Virgo (left) on stage.
Jesse Royal joined Romain Virgo on stage for their collab ‘Bridges’.
Jesse Royal joined Romain Virgo on stage for their collab ‘Bridges’.
Romain Virgo (right) performs hit song ‘Chatty Chatty’ with Chris Martin.
Romain Virgo (right) performs hit song ‘Chatty Chatty’ with Chris Martin.
Romain Virgo launched his new album ‘The Gentle Man’ on Thursday and was announced as the new ambassador for Johnnie Walker
Romain Virgo launched his new album ‘The Gentle Man’ on Thursday and was announced as the new ambassador for Johnnie Walker
1
2
3
4
5
6

Romain Virgo’s album launch on Thursday at the AC Hotel Kingston was a vibe. Despite the short notice – Wednesday for Thursday – media, colleagues, family, friends and fans showed up to celebrate the unveiling of Virgo’s fourth studio album, The Gentle Man, and the music and the mood were all in sync.

It was a night on which three big events were taking place in the Corporate Area – all at the same time – so it was interesting to see who would be the night’s big winners. Virgo’s side certainly did him proud. Chris Martin, who was supposed to perform with him at the recent Lost in Time Festival but didn’t make it because he was caught in traffic, was marked present, on time and ready to perform a one song and so too was Jesse Royal who has a collab with Virgo on The Gentle Man. Bling Dawg said he had to be there; Ras-I represented well and so too did Jah Lil. Busy Signal showed his face, mingled a bit and the next time we saw him was at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel where Exco Levi was having his album launch. “The two a dem are my friends, so I had to support them and be present at both,” was the no-brainer explanation from Busy who had just come into the island.

When VP Records head honcho, Chris Chin, flies in from New York specially for an event, you know it is super important. A man of few words, Chin said that it was “a pleasure to work with Romain” and noted that the singer “has dropped big songs and will be dropping a big album”.

VP’s Regional Director in charge of Caribbean and Latin America, Michelle Williams, had only nice things to say about the young gentleman.

“Romain Virgo has been a part of the VP family for 14 years. As he has grown as a man and an artiste, so has his commitment and fidelity to the music. We have been atop hills and through valleys together and throughout, his focus has remained clear and strong. We have heard him being called ‘the next Beres’ or ‘His generation’s Jimmy Cliff’ but at the launch of The Gentle Man, it is clear to me that he is an original,” Williams said and those present, including Virgo’s wife, Liz, wholeheartedly agreed.

Virgo, when he took the stage from the evening’s fabulous host, Jadeen ‘Jade’ McGhee, promised that he wasn’t “going to do much talking tonight” and he kept his word, especially since his manager, Niko Browne, had already said quite a bit about the album and Virgo himself. The big singer shouted out all who had been a part of his journey, especially his wife, who he said didn’t want to attend because she had to come straight from work and didn’t feel she was properly attired, “but a nuh nutten, Liz”.

He did his collaboration with Masicka, Been There Before, which those present sang word for word; performed the hit song Chatty Chatty with Chris Martin; called up Jesse Royal for their collab, Bridges, and said that with so many friends present they had to touch the stage, even though he had jokingly reminded the crowd earlier that “this is an album launch ... what oonu tink is a concert?” Bling Dawg, Jah Lil and Ras-I joined in the rollicking freestyle session.

The classy event was powered by Johnnie Walker, the brand for which Virgo was unveiled as an official ambassador. To loud cheers of approval, Brand Manager for Johnnie Walker, Nadine Hylton, made the announcement. In an interview with The Sunday Gleaner, she shed more light on what led to the “awesome marriage”.

“In December 2023, we had our Keep Walking concert and we selected Romain for his qualities of being a gentleman. The Johnnie Walker brand is synonymous with virtue and determination and trying to move from one step to the next and outdoing what you have done before. And so we thought Romain suited what we wanted to represent and what we want our consumers to experience. It’s not just about the taste of the liquid ... not about the best whiskey in the world, it’s also about what Johnnie Walker brings to our consumers, so we think Romain is really a representation of that,” Hylton explained.

It is the first time that the brand is signing on an artiste in this capacity and Hylton could not hide her excitement.

“We have done stuff with influencers, designers, that type of thing ... but someone whose journey we are going to be chronicling and are going on that with them, we have never done it in that way before ... not in Jamaica,” she elaborated.

Johnnie Walker is fully on board with Virgo’s The Gentle Man Jamaica tour which will have stops at Plantation Smokehouse in St Ann on March 8; Main Street, Rose Hall, in Montego Bay on March 9 and Lover’s Leap in St Elizabeth on March 10.

The Gentle Man, which is described as “a defining point in the career and ascension of Romain as the standard-bearer of reggae’s roots in R&B and soul”, also features collaborations with Capleton and Afrobeats star, Patoranking. Producers include Donovan ‘Don Corleon’ Bennett, Phillip ‘Winta’ James, and Maurice ‘Seani B’ Delaunay. The Gentle Man debuted at #8 on the iTunes Top 100 Reggae Albums chart on Friday.

yasmine.peru@gleanerjm.com