Tarrus received this award at the annual UNIA Marcus Garvey Awards ceremony on the lawns of Devon House on Wednesday night (17th August 2011). Veteran singer Tommy Cowan made the announcement and presented the award to a rousing applause, “Tonight we recognise a young man who continue the tradition of teaching and inspiring through music in the way of Garvey, keeping hope alive”. In his acceptance speech Tarrus Riley noted that The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey was the best book ever written by any man.
For the singer, who has won a number of awards locally and internationally, he noted that this was the most meaningful. “We win a lot of awards, but this is the Award. Marcus Garvey, fi real. In my opinion, The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey is the best book ever written by any man. Mi bias with that, but it’s my favourite book. Mi waan to thank Marcus Garvey for his teachings, because if not (for it) I would be lost in a world of confusion. This is the Award, Marcus Garvey live forever. Thank you,” Riley said in his acceptance speech.
He later performed one of his popular tunes Shaka Zulu Pickney and premiered of his soon-to-be-released single, the haunting Love Created I.
Of course, among his supporting vocalists was his musical director/producer saxophonist extraordinaire Dean Fraser.
At the colourful regal affair in the garden like setting of the Kingston landmark, guests headed by Prime Minister Bruce Golding, were entertained by some delightful musical items. These included Bongo Herman’s signature routine with diveres percussion instruments while chanting the popular Rastaman Chant. The Winston “Sparrow” Martin led Alpha Alumni’s trio of hornsmen on the Skatalites’ classic Eastern Standard Time and Dominican soprano marie-claire, who fuses opera with reggae in her newly recorded soothing version of Dreamland.
The awards were not only about music. There were nine other awards in various fields of endeavours with which Marcus Garvey identified. These included the arts won by Pauline “Sister P” Petinaud (promoter Fi Wi Sinting heritage festival), agriculture which went Donovan Hunter, journalism going to veteran Ken Jones, education won by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, business to Just Natural Hair Studio, industry to Dr Henry Lowe, trade to Marley Coffe, social service to Alpha Boys’ Home.
The Lifetime Achievement Awards went to veteran Garvyite Mother Miriam Samad.
(Parts of this article were written with content submitted in a Jamaica Observer publication)