Former President Barack Obama speaks at a rally as he campaigns for Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, Monday, November 2, 2020, at Turner Field in Atlanta. Obama, already a million-selling author, is also a prize-winning author.   (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

Former President Barack Obama, already a million-selling author, is also a prize-winning author. PEN America announced Wednesday that Obama will receive its second annual Voice of Influence Award in recognition of how his writings “have traversed political, social, and ideological bounds and framed a self-reflective humanism that has marked his influence on public life.” Obama, whose memoir “A Promised Land” came out last week, will be honoured December 8 at the literary and human rights organization's annual gala, to be held virtually because of the coronavirus. During the ceremony, Obama and historian Ron Chernow, a former PEN board president, will discuss freedom of expression and the importance of truth in a world of misinformation. Obama’s previous books include “Dreams from My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope.” “As an organization of writers, we have always seen President Obama not just as a leader, but as one of us: an author. His probing and evocative narratives helped introduce the world to his unique background, and the power of his life experience as a prompt toward a more pluralistic and encompassing society,” PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said in a statement. PEN presented its first Voice of Influence Award in 2019 to filmmaker Ava DuVernay.

Popcaan and Koffee in Lockdown music video.

Reggae phenom Koffee and dancehall's Unruly boss Popcaan will faceoff in two categories as votingfor the 2020 MOBOAwards get underway. He may have taught her a few dance moves in one of her hottest music videos for 2020 - Lockdown, but this time around it's not sharedlaughs, it's a ding-dong musical battle. Of the Jamaicans nominated in the recently dropped 2020 MOBO Awards list, Koffee and Popcaan are leading the pack with their two nominations each. The two Jamaican artistes are nominated in the categories of Best Reggae Act and Best International Act. Koffee who sings "low de L tek de W" will be looking to win having dropped some fire tracks with Rapture this year, while Popcaan who is signed to Drake's OVO label will be standing firm and strong. In the category of Best Reggae Act the 20-year-old Toast singer and the Inviolablesinger Poppy will face: 1) Buju Banton 2) Alecia Tameka Grey, popularly known asLila Iké 3) Protoje Funny enough, one of Koffee's latest tracks 'Pressure (Remix)'features Buju Banton and in the summer Popcaan and Protoje collaborated to give the world 'Like Royalty'. Meanwhile, in the category of Best International Act, the Jamaican pair will be competing against: BURNA BOY DRAKE MEGAN THEE STALLION POP SMOKE RODDY RICCH REMA SHENSEEA SUMMER WALKER H.E.R LIL BABY That's right, Popcaan will actually be squaring up with OVO Head, Drake, in this category. What are the MOBO Awards? Started in 1996, the MOBO Awards is one of Europe’s biggest Music Award ceremonies, and perhaps the most important and influential event for music makers and fans. Celebrating excellence in music for more than 20 years, MOBO continues its rich legacy and ongoing growth as the premiere outlet for recognising and honouring the artistic and technical achievements of exceptional British and international talent in the musical fields of Hip Hop, Grime, RnB/Soul, Reggae, Jazz, Gospel, and African music. Some say it is the award show thatMOBO honoursachievements in "music of black origin". When is the 2020 MOBO Awards show? It goes downWednesday, December 9at7pmonYouTube Lead Nominee Nominations for this year areled by Rap titanNines, who picked up a whopping five nominations for Best Male Act, Album of The Year, Video of The Year, Best Hip Hop Act and Best Album (2017 – 2019). The full list of nominees can be found here and persons can start voting now.


Sheena Rose (Credit: Amery Butcher)

Sheena Rose conquered 2020. It is said that pressure makes diamonds, well this year has helped the Fulbright Scholar become an even more brightlyshining gem in the art world, globally. Sheena Rose talked to Loop Lifestyle about some of her biggest 2020 achievements. The Barbadian businesswoman told us about one of her most standout interviews for the year, when she talkedlupus, COVID-19 routine, art and achievements with Alia Akkam for her feature inthe November edition of Hospitality Design magazine composed by guest editor Venus Williams. Venus is no stranger to Barbados' Sheena Rose because she herself owns pieces of art done by the Bajan artist. Crossing paths again on this project, Sheena told Loop she felt"honoured". After screaming and crying about being chosen, she was interviewed over the phone by Alia and her story appeared in the magazine under the section titled 'Be a Legend.' Asked how this felt, she tossed out a slew of adjectives including"honoured, recognized, acknowledged, excited andrespected." Diagnosed with lupus early this year, seeing all that she has endured, overcame, surpassed and achieved in 2020 in a pandemic written so succinctly in black and white, Sheena said, "I feel proud to see how much I have done during this pandemic in my career while working at home." Talking about how her life changed since her diagnosis, she shared: "Well since I found out I have lupus, my life has been to the better. Before I found out, I was very sick, to the point I was rushed to Coverley [Medical] twiceto see what was wrong with me. My throat wastightening, my joints would hurt, my mouth and eyes were swollen. "Now I can be on a proper diet, take my meds to control it, and do the right exercises such as swimming, riding a bicycle, yoga and meditations." Throughout COVID-19 and lockdown, in fact, it was most therapeutic for Sheena to do her swimming, gardening and meditation. Sheena said the interview "went great, telling my story from childhood, to growing and how I am handling the pandemic" View this post on Instagram A post shared by Sheena Rose (@sheenaroseinc) Having overcome some things this year that would have crippled others, Sheena had a word for young artists who may be struggling to get their work seen especially in this day of social media? As one who paints, draws, sketches and dances outside of the box as if there is no box, Sheena said: "Well, I will tell young artists to never give up, try your best to be visible but don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t want to be on the social media at times. It can be too much pressure. So self care first and then promoting and networking. Take care of yourself and you will see your work blossom." An artistic performer at heart, Sheena has not only been moving her instruments across the canvas and pages but also moving her body in between strokes. This year Sheena hosted a solo show -Sheena Rose’s solo show “Lampoon, Quick Sand" back in September and in November she was the recipient of the UNC Greensboro College of Visual Arts and Performing Arts Distinguished Alumni Award. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Sheena Rose (@sheenaroseinc) Also in this month of Independence, Sheenapresentedthree pieces of hers, aTown piece “Nelson”, acompendious piece “ Deflategratplay” aka “Crop Over” and aSweet Gossip piece called “Well well well...did you hear the latest?” which arenow in The National Cultural Foundation art collection. Bajan to the bone, Sheena said that she felt"so honored and it warms my heart to be in a Barbadian Government art collection." And most recently, Sheena also became a new homeowner and is starting a whole new chapter and journey. Talk about the bow added on top of the gift as this year wraps up.

Photographer Kristopher Streek stays focused

Kristopher Streek has his eyes on the prize. The young Barbadian photographer/videographer is becoming more well-known for his stunning photographs and visuals annually not just locally, but beyond Barbados' 166-square miles. I can now add "Rihanna posed for my lens at kadooment" to my CV. pic.twitter.com/LuB6JL7oEL — Kris “hot” it 🇧🇧 (@krisshotit) August 6, 2019 Some people may better know Kristopher by his creative online handle,Krisshotit,which he confessed was not created after deep thought, but more in one-off moment and it stuck. In fact, at first it was thought by many tweeps to be 'Kris hot it', a joke that lives on on his Twitter to this day, two years later. Kristopher shot into view for many globally when he photographed Barbados' Grammy award-winning songstress Rihanna during Grand Kadooment in Crop Over 2019. His photographs received almost 40K likes on Twitter and were carried on various platforms including shared on France'sRAPRNB Le Mag'sInstagram. His Rihanna photo was also carried in Miller Publishing'sIns and Outs Magazine 2020. Photo caption: Ins and Outs credit Fresh from crafting the visually stunningDon't Break Yetmusic video for artistFaith Callender,Kristopher is ready to continue to capture the eyes, minds, hearts, and imaginations of not just Barbadians but people all across the globe. Speaking toLoop,he talked about his current inspirations and what he felt could help more young and budding photographers reach even more heights in the artform. [image_gallery] Loop:What is inspiring you to keep doing the level of work you are doing? Kristopher Streek:For me, it's just the passion to keep going. I love creating images, and I love telling stories. So the drive to keep putting out those visuals and making people feel something is what basically keeps me going. Loop:What is the thing you think you have shot that fully captures Barbados to you? Kristopher:Any of the times I have shot Kadooment. The energy and the feeling of everyone coming together around the culture. The dancing, the costume, and the beaches all seem to come together on that one day, and I feel that truly captures Barbados. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Kristopher Streek (@krisshotit) Loop:As a Bajan photographer, is there a distinctive market for what you are doing outside of Barbados? Kristopher:Being a Bajan photographer is kind of unique in a sense as we have a different eye for certain things. We have that unique upbringing that we can bring something a little bit different when it comes to international media. And being a Barbadian Photographer, you have kind of a different eye to other people overseas. LoopNews:Is there anything you would like to see done to help photographers coming up now? Kristopher:What I would like to see is more education and more reaching out to let people know how this industry functions. And how you go about managing and market yourself as an artist instead of just purchasing a camera, and you know you hope that things come in. Probably more workshops and more outreach but, I think NCF is doing a great job with funding artists. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Kristopher Streek (@krisshotit) Loop:Are there any dream projects that you have in mind? Kristopher:I don't think I have the biggest dream project, butfor mewhat I dream of doing is just traveling and just trying to tell stories through my eyes. My dream is to tell stories for a living. Document this place and document that person so I can try to tell a story of everything that I can come across basically. LoopNews:What has been your favorite project so far? Kristopher Streek:I would have to say it was when I travelled to Nevis to do work for their tourism authority and trying to tell the story of Nevis. That was my favorite project thus far. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Kristopher Streek (@krisshotit) Loop:If you had to inspire young photographers in Barbados what would you tell them? Kristopher:I would tell them to just keep at it, keep going at it. Figure out your niche and your style and what you're most passionate about. Eventually, people will notice once you have put in the work and you put your art out there people will notice.


Virgin Atlantic at the terminal at Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados. (FILE)

Virgin Atlantic is currently flying to Barbados, Antigua, Jamaica andGrenadaand expects to restart Tobago, Havana and Manchester to Barbados services in the coming months. Flights schedules will increase throughout 2020 and 2021 in line with consumer demand and in addition, the airline looks forward to launching newservicesto St Vincent in June 2021. [related node_id='c68d477b-82c1-4aad-a641-342e984521a2'] Virgin Atlantic’s Caribbean services now fly from London Heathrow, the UK’s only hub airport and customers will be able to join a vast option of connecting services on the Virgin Atlantic international network or disembark at the UK capital city. As Virgin Atlantic aims to establish itself as the sustainability leader, it will fly a modern fleet of wide-body, twin-engine aircraft comprising of A330-300s, 787-9s, A350-1000s as well as A330-200s, before they retire in early 2022 as planned. The airline’s seven 747-400s will no longer be in use. By 2022 the simplified, greener fleet will comprise 36 twin-engine aircraft reducing CO2/RTK emissions by an estimated further 10 per cent, building on the 18 percent efficiency already achieved between 2007-2019.

Hannah Swift, new Country Manager for the Caribbean for Virgin. Photo courtesy Virgin

Virgin Atlantic hasappointedHannah Swift as the airline’s Country Manager for the Caribbean. Swift is responsible for the airline’s daily commercial activity in the region including sales, marketing, reservations and ticketing. Swift moved to Barbados in 2014 and spent five years in an advertising agency growing the online presence of leading Caribbean brands such as Flow and Banks Beer prior to joining Virgin Atlantic as Marketing Manager in 2019. She has a degree in Geology and Science Communication from Royal Holloway, University of London and ranher own business in the UK focusing on online marketing strategy. She fell in love with the Virgin brand when she met Sir Richard Branson on UK children’s TV show Live and Kicking at age11. “I am thrilled to be taking on this role for Virgin Atlantic. As travel restrictions around the world start to relax and demand for international travel increases, the Caribbean will play an important part in Virgin Atlantic’s recovery," she said. “We’re anticipating huge demand for travel to the Caribbean as customers look to escape the UK winter for some Caribbean sun or as they travel to visit friends and loved ones. We look forward to welcoming our customers to the region and flying them safely to their favourite Caribbean destination” “Myself and my team look forward to working closely with our partners and customers in the Caribbean. I’m excited to establish and deepen relationships with our key partners as we continue to build trust in the Virgin Atlantic brand.”