04/18/2023 by Munchy
The Jamaica Conference Center right at Kingston’s waterfront downtown was the center of attraction for the island’s musical fraternity, its members and supporters as the Jamaican Reggae Industry Association JaRIA held its annual Honour Awards on Easter Monday, April 10, 2023.
To celebrate “the greatest music genre on earth” finally together again in person and not virtually was a joy for all attendees. After a cheerful red carpet entrance, easy conversations and a glass of wine, all guests gathered inside the festively decorated Kenneth Rattray Conference Room where the award ceremony started in full swing with music from the orchestra led by Michael “Ibo” Cooper.
Host Debbie Bissoon did a wonderful job leading through the evening that kicked off with the first awardee Stephen “Di Genius” McGregor, who was honored as producer besides Linval Thompson, and whose music was also highlighted with a medley strongly performed by Ibo’s amazing orchestra. To hear some of his riddims and most popular productions with actual strings, horns and delivered by the impressive vocalists was intriguing and surprising at the same time.
The producers were followed by the honored engineers that included Leroy “Fatman” Thompson whose video portrait took the audience on a time travel back to King Tubby’s and King Jammy’s studio which he rewired to 24 track in the early 90s.
In the category “Mentorship” the late great Sugar Minott received an award for his commitment to youth development which was also highlighted by his daughter Pashon Minott, widow Maxine Stowe and more children and grandchildren of the singer, who received the award on his behalf and emphasized that young artists “would eat, sleep, live” with Minott’s family at his Youthman Promotion yard.
Singer, producer and engineer Pat Kelly as well as former Roots Radics and Dub Syndicate member and drummer Style Scott were honored posthumously for their extraordinary contribution to Jamaican music, before Grub Cooper’s works were portrayed with another wonderful medley by the orchestra and a video film.
The Lifetime Achievement Award was handed over to the multi-talented musician, singer, writer, composer, producer, and founding member of The Fab Five to thunderous applause. Junjo Lawes’ Volcano Sound was highlighted for its extraordinary impact as sound system besides Steely & Clevie’s Silverhawk, and member Danny Pepperseed who accepted the award on behalf of the entire crew shared his appreciation for “a great recognition” and couldn’t miss out to remember the legendary Billy Ocean dubplates in Silverhawk’s box.
The icon award for the female artist went to Dawn Penn who sent an acceptance speech from England – yes, yes, yes, not No No No – before two groups were honored. Byron Lee’s daughter remembered the beginning of her father’s journey in the 50s and also shined a light on all the band members that passed through along the way, and also original guitarist Errol Gayle accepted the award on behalf of Byron Lee and The Dragonaires, before Sharon Marley entered the stage in a stunning pink dress to thank JaRIA for honoring the Melody Makers. Their musical medley was strongly delivered by Ibo’s orchestra and singer Qyor who had all “brothers and sisters” indeed have a “good time”. Besides expressing her gratitude Sharon Marley also bigged up fellow awardee Grub Cooper who used to be one of her musical educators and who would give her and the other Marley sibblings an apple when they didn’t have lunch.
In the musicians segment drummer Desi Jones’ wife collected an award on her husband’s behalf before keyboard player, arranger, producer, engineer and educator Franklyn “Bubbler” Waul was highlight with a detailed video biography.
Horace Andy who followed in the line of awardees turned his acceptance speech into an impromptu performance of classic “Skylarking” alongside the JaRIA orchestra after pointing out his humble beginnings and how he used “to pray for an almond to drop off the tree”.
The following media segment included radio and TV personality and interviewer Dermot Hussey, who has conducted historical conversations with the likes of Bob Marley, Quincy Jones, and Roberta Flack, the Jamaica Gleaner in the category print, the Billboard magazine for the online works and as a special highlight writer Pat Meschino, who was honored for her “consistent contribution to Reggae music” and “her powerful pen“. The journalist with 30 plus years writing about Reggae in various formats and platforms, stressed the importance of print media and showed great appreciation for JaRIA’s recognition of media works.
Rising star Jerone performed the medley for male icon awardee Shaggy including his massive hits “Church Heathen”, “It Wasn’t Me”, and “Angel”, before the Rototom Sunsplash was honored in the promoter category. Team members Sabrina and Gina attended all the way from Spain to thank Jamaica – “There is no place like Jamaica” – for “giving Reggae to the world”. A joyride followed with Dave Kelly’s greatest hits and productions compiled to a performance for the songwriter category as well as a long overdue honoring of the “greatest dancer of all time” Gerald “Bogle” Levy for his contribution as a dancer and his timeless moves such as Bogle Dance, Willie Bounce, Row Your Boat and Sweeper.
Great excitement accompanied the Gospel segment that included awardees such as Markland Action Edwards, Sister Patt and Prodigal Son. Excitement that could only increase with the announcement of the winners in the categories that were open to voting by the public: Song of the Year (Somewhere Wonderful by Ras-I), Breakthrough Artist (Valiant), Dancehall Album of the Year (Scorcha by Sean Paul), Reggae Album of the Year (The Kalling by Kabaka Pyramid) and Gospel Album of the Year (Freedom by Wayne Stoddart). To top up the blissful night the grande finale was delivered by young talent Zhayna and her special performance in celebration of Marcia Griffiths. The mighty songstress celebrates 60 years in the music industry and received her citation in a flowing African style robe and matching red headgear – a queen in her rightful attire.
CHECK THE FULL PHOTO REPORT BY STEVE JAMES HERE!