Reggae Stalwarts Honoured at Jamaica Day in Toronto

At a function held on Monday (June 20th) at the Courtleigh Hotel in New Kingston, co-chair of the organising committee Hewitt Loague said, “On this our 21st anniversary, we wanted to pay attention to people in the industry providing positive music. After seeing Freddie McGregor for almost 50 years spreading this positive message, we decided to honour him.” He also went on to say, “Forbes has taken the music to places far and wide,” Loague said about the second honouree Copeland Forbes.

Although Freddie McGregor was not at the event to receive his citation, he was able to share his joy with the media and music fraternity via telephone, expressing that it was an honour to receive the award, “I am saddened by this as I really wanted to be there in person,” his voiced boomed over the microphone, “I truly appreciate this honour,” said the reggae singer as he said his job was to set a pattern for the younger artistes to come. He also took time out to congratulate the organizers of Jamaica Day, adding, “It takes years to build an event to make it work, artistes too must see the vision and want to make it work, I want to continue if not for myself, for the next generation to come also,” he said to loud cheers.

Copeland Forbes seemed surprised when he received not one but two awards for his contribution to the music.

His second award — a Lifetime Achievement Award- came from Ottawa Reggae Fest and was presented by Claudette Kenlock from Claken Marketing.

In his acceptance speech, a grateful Forbes said; “A king is never honoured in his own country. I feel special that the work I’ve done over the last 49 years, they overseas can recognize the work I’ve been doing.”

Sydney Bartley, in representing the Ministry of Culture, congratulated the men on their achievement and praised Loague for acknowledging someone who worked on the ‘business end’ of the industry. “A lot of people have not got the sense that the music is business,” he pointed out.

‘People tend to look at the stars without realising someone has put that together,” said Bartley.

Forbes was praised for “putting his heart, soul and money in what he believed in Jamaica’s music.

Bartley also took the opportunity to encourage those present to “work with the Institute of Jamaica and tell the story of Jamaican music.”If we do not tell it, someone else from somewhere else will tell it and we will have lost the true story.”

Both Forbes and McGregor received Lifetime Achievement Awards courtesy of the Toronto International Jamaica Day. The event is Toronto’s celebration of the island’s culture. This year’s festival date is Saturday, July 23 and will take place at the family-oriented, Wild Water Kingdom at the Outdoor Festival Ground.

 (Parts of this article were written with content submitted in a Jamaica Observer publication)


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