Tony Rebel lauds pioneers

Singjay Tony Rebel, the man behind the annual Rebel Salute, is one such promoters.

Several artistes who impacted reggae’s emergence in the 1970s are scheduled to perform at the 19th staging of the event this Saturday at the Port Kaiser Sports Club in St Elizabeth.

Eric Donaldson, Max Romeo, Johnny Clarke and Edi Fitzroy who came of age during the roots-reggae explosion over 30 years ago, are on the card. They will be complemented by General Trees and Admiral Bailey, who were part of the digital dancehall revolution that took place in the mid-1980s.

Rebel told the Observer that he began compiling ‘vintage’ artistes for his show in September, to recognise Jamaica’s Golden Jubilee. But he said watching a Max Romeo concert in Europe in early 2011 had a significant bearing on his 2012 line-up.

“These are artistes who get serious international recognition and they are ignored at home,” Rebel said. “We thought it would be prudent to get these people.”

Romeo broke through in the early 1970s with a string of hit songs like War Ina Babylon and Macabee Version. His success set the pace for younger artistes like Clarke who came out of producer Bunny Lee’s Greenwich Farm camp.

Performers from the roots era still attract the attention of promoters of European festivals. Romeo, Clarke, Winston McAnuff, Horace Andy and the Mighty Diamonds are regulars on many of those shows.

Rebel said he reached out to Donaldson and Fitzroy based on their uplifting songs from the 1970s and early 1980s. Donaldson is best known for his appearances in the annual Festival Song Contest, which he has won several occasions with songs such as Cherry Oh Baby and Land Of My Birth.

Fitzroy made his mark with The Gun and Princess Black, the latter a memorable ode to dark-skinned women.

“Due to his patriotism we wanted people like Eric Donaldson. When it was not popular to big up women Edi was doing it so it was natural to get him as well,” Rebel explained.

Rebel Salute has recognised the roots of Jamaican popular music in the past with its Back To The Foundation segment and Homecoming for Jimmy Cliff. In addition to Cliff, veterans including Bunny Wailer, Burning Spear and Sly and Robbie have performed at the show.




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