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Jr Gong, The Highlight Of Grand Gala

 

Those at the National Stadium learnt things as well as basked in the various successes of an island celebrating its 51st Independence.

The JCDC seemed determined to make the show different from previous years, and whether or not the organisation was successful was left up to the thousands dancing and tooting Vuvuzelas until the last act performed at minutes to 10 p.m.

The event had its ups and downs, with patrons either cheering wildly or staring in almost total silence.

Marcus Garvey said “A man without knowledge of his past is like a tree without root” and the JCDC definitely added some roots to its display, incorporating some authentic African drumming into the performances. The drumming was accompanied by dancers dressed in African clothing.

There was also narration between the different acts. The narration reinforced the importance of each presentation to Jamaican culture.

The backing band for the night was the iconic Fab Five, and they delivered a stellar display of reggae and rocksteady music. The band was also joined by Johnny Clark, who was asked for an encore after his song Move Out Of Babylon.

 

Following Clark’s set, the narrators proclaimed Jamaicans a spiritual people and made way for gospel music led by Sister Pat.

She performed an engaging gospel medley accompanied by her dancers. It was noticeable that Sister Pat ended her set singing“everybody haffi know who Jesus is,” a line picked up on and modified by the Rastafari performers who followed.

“Everybody haffi know who Jah Jah is,” they chanted. Dressed in red, gold and green, they delivered an energetic set which also featured stilt walkers.

Reggae artiste Junior Reid sang his globally accepted hit single One Blood, getting patrons dancing and chanting the popular hook.

To push his message a step further, the artiste performed the song in Spanish, a move which was welcomed by the audience, which roared in approval.

Derrick Morgan gave a taste of the ska era. Looking a little frail, the icon, supported by his walking stick, belted hits from his classic catalogue.

Ken Boothe classics

Ken Boothe would then deliver a near-perfect set laced with classics likeThe Train Is Coming and Freedom.

Other notable sets came from past festival winners Roy Rayon, Tinga Stewart and The Astronauts.

They took patrons on a trip down memory lane, singing some timeless festival songs that were major hits.

The energy inside the national stadium was turned up a notch by Tiger, General Trees and Lady G, who led the dancehall tribute. And was later cooled down by reggae bands No-Maddz and Raging Fyah.

However, to put icing on the cake, and making Independence Gala 2013 a memorable event, the organisers brought in Jr Gong. He delivered song after song in true Marley fashion and gave patrons a surprise by introducing iconic reggae artiste Sizzla Kalonji, who gave a short, noisy display, which still managed to enchant the audience, with its members jumping and tooting vuvuzelas.


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