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PAVING THE WAY: THE UNSUNG HERO SUGAR MINOTT!

By Howard Campbell—

In commemoration of Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of Independence from Britain, the Jamaica Observer’s Entertainment section recognises 50 persons who made significant, yet unheralded, contributions to the country’s culture. This week we feature singer Sugar Minott.

Few in the music business had as big an impact on the modern dancehall movement than Sugar Minott.

Sugar Minott felt he never got the mainstream respect he deserved

 

Yet, the singer/producer who died in July, 2010 felt he never got the mainstream respect he deserved for mentoring some of the biggest names in dancehall music.

Singers Tristan Palmer, Little John, Tenor Saw, Junior Reid, Yami Bolo and Garnet Silk are just some of the artists who passed through Minott’s Youthman Promotions camp.

Like Minott, they paid their dues on the sound system circuit before finding a radio audience and mainstream success.

Hardcore songs like Vanity, Mr DC and Hard Time Pressure helped announce Sugar Minott in the late 1970s when Jamaican radio was still not receptive to roots-reggae.

Minott led a relentless charge to change this by recording many budding artists and exposing them on his sound system.

Significantly, he was a dancehall trailblazer in Japan and helped introduce the sound system culture to that country in the 1980s.

While he felt slighted in Jamaica, Minott’s achievements were lauded abroad, especially in Japan and Britain where he had an enduring fan base.

Last year, American photographer/author Beth Lesser who first met Minott during the 1980s recalled his legacy in her book, the legend of Sugar Minott.

With so many pretenders staking claims to being dancehall pioneers, the book is a fitting tribute to someone who helped pave the way for the platinum success the sound ultimately achieved.

 

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