JaRIA Awards for July 4

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter

THE newly elected board of Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) is currently working to stage its annual awards on July 4.

The event – which usually caps the association’s slate of activities for Reggae Month in February – was pushed back this year, due to the current novel coronavirus pandemic.

Chairman of JaRIA, Ewan Simpson, explained that his team is currently deep in rehearsals and production for the virtual event.

“We are determined to stage the event this year. We were forced to shift the awards as we wanted to ensure that we produced an event that was protocol-compliant. We certainly did not want to be lumped with all the other entertainment productions which are accused of flouting the law,” said Simpson.

The list of honorees represents a wide cross section of players in the local music fraternity, including emerging and established performers, musicians, and sound system operators, also media personalities, as well as behind-the-scenes personnel, such as engineers and songwriters.

This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award will go to Owen Gray, the singer and songwriter who is referred to by many as Jamaica’s first home-grown star. The 81-year-old, who currently lives in London, was one of the first artistes to record for the Sir Clement “Coxsone” Dodd’s Downbeat label in 1959, and the first act to be produced by Chris Blackwell in 1960. His single, Patricia, was the first record ever released by Island Records, owned by Blackwell.

Celebrated musician and songwriter Harold Butler will be honoured with the award for his exceptional contribution to the reggae industry as a songwriter. He has penned music for the likes of Beres Hammond and Cynthia Schloss.

This year, three artistes have been selected to receive the Icon Award. Jepther “Luciano” McClymoth, Ewart “U-Roy” Beckford, and Phyllis Dillon will be recognised along with the Blues Busters, who are receiving the award for iconic duo/group. In the area of gospel music, George Banton and Change will be awarded. British reggae outfit Aswad is this year’s honoree for its contribution to the industry as a band.

Stephen “Cat” Coore, a founding member of renowned reggae band Third World, and a respected cellist and guitarist will be awarded by JaRIA for his contribution to the reggae industry as an instrumentalist.

Shane Brown and Orville “Rorey” Baker will be recognised for their work as engineers, while in the category of producer, Leroy and Dave Heywood, also known as Mafia and Fluxy, as well as Handel Tucker will be recognised.

The sound system culture has always been integral to the development of the local music genres, so this year two ‘sounds’ will be awarded for their impact on the music; Count Shelly Lloyd and the Coxsone Sound System will take the honours next month.

The role of the media in the development of the music has not been overlooked by JaRIA. This year, popular radio personality and dub poet Mutabaruka, along with music website Reggaeville, will be honoured. The organisers of the popular and long-running street dance Rae Town Sundays will be honoured in the category of promoter.

A number of this year’s recipients are being honoured posthumously. Hornsman Ronald “Nambo” Robinson, who died in 2017, will be recognised for his extraordinary impact on the reggae industry through mentorship. Edward O’Sullivan Lee, better known as Bunny Lee, and Winston “Bopee” Bowen will both be recognised for their exceptional contribution to the reggae industry. Guitarist and vocalist Dalton Browne, who passed away late last year, will receive JaRIA’s award for his contribution to the reggae industry as a musician. The late radio personality Tony Young will be recognised for his contribution to the development of the music .

The Gregory Isaacs Foundation continues to give its award, which recognises a leading figure in the areas of dance, fashion and graphic design. It may also be awarded to a sound system selector. The award this year will be presented to Orville “Bagga” Case for his work in album cover designs.

Featured Image – Ewan Simpson, chairman of JaRIA

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