Recently resettled in her home town of Mandeville, dancehall artiste Timberlee has filled a void by providing regularly scheduled entertainment for an area otherwise starved of night-time festivities.
The artiste opened Timberlee’s Pepperseed Jerk Centre, which now boasts a weekly Friday night event, aptly called Frideh.
“Friday is the night in Mandeville. Mandeville people don’t go out on a Saturday, unless it’s a one-off event. I think it’s cultural,” Timberlee told THE WEEKEND STAR.
Timberlee’s Pepperseed Jerk Centre opened as a full-service restaurant in January 2018.
“I closed in January 2019 because I was mentally exhausted. We’re making preparations to reopen [with] full service next January. I haven’t picked a specific date as yet, so I’m kind of just going with the flow right now,” she said.
A likely contributor to her exhaustion was her need to bolster her staff.
“Good workers are difficult to find in this field, in this geographical region. If I was in Kingston, it would be easier for me to find persons who are qualified and who have the knack for an industry like this. Hospitality has to come to you naturally, or you have to really feel that benefit from it. A lot of people want work, but they don’t want to work. That is my biggest plight,” she shared.
With Fridehs happening on a regular basis, and the Bubble Like Soup singer’s restaurant well on its way to reopening for full service, it would appear that Timberlee is now a restaurateur and not an artiste. According to her, she has a multitude of things dealing with.
“My family is a family of progress and work. Nobody in my family gets anything; nothing is given to them. All of us work really hard. I had just come back to Jamaica, and I was like, I need to find something to do. So, I have a friend who runs a wholesale, and one day we were hanging out. I was telling him, ‘I need something to do.’ And he was like, ‘You wah do sumn? Open a jerk centre. Mandeville doe have none.’ I kinda ran with that.”
But the restaurant is not Timberlee’s end-all. Her absence from the airwaves is a matter of circumstance, and learning to navigate the volatility that can come with a public life.
“I don’t want my success to depend on another person’s perception of me. These people seem to forget that we’re human beings, and my skin is too thin for that. However, this experience with the restaurant, I’m very grateful for it, because it taught me a lot of life lessons about how human beings are in general,” she said.
She continued: “I don’t think I could ever really retire because I love dancehall. I love music, but I love dancehall differently. I’m just not around. I’m not around that environment that I would need in order to prosper.”
Additionally, becoming a mother necessitated securing a steady income stream. “When I had my son, it kind of put things in perspective for me. Everything is a risk, but I need some level of predictability.”