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INFLUENTIAL persons from the Jamaica music fraternity walked the red carpet Saturday at the Courtleigh Auditorium in St Andrew, where the University of Technology (UTech) saluted the local music industry with its 2012 Chancellor’s Medal.

The Chancellor’s Medal was presented to institutions and individuals in recognition of their contribution to the development of the country’s popular music.

Former Jamaica Prime Minister Edward Seaga (third from right) and recipients of the University of Technology’s Chancellor’s Medal at the Courtleigh Auditorium Saturday. From left are Monty Blake of Merritone sound system, Basil Walters (representing the Press Association of Jamaica), producer Bunny Lee, Jamaica Federation of Musicians president Desmond Young, Mary Isaacs of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association, Frankie Campbell of the Jamaica Association of Vintage Artistes and Affiliates, Lester Sterling of The Skatalites (with medal), Tommy Cowan of the Jamaica Music Society and Ronnie Burke of Synergy, founders of Reggae Sunsplash. (Photo: Naphtali Junior)


The event’s significance was repeatedly emphasised by respective speakers. Among them, UTech president Professor Errol Morrison, who made an economic statement.

“The music data of 2005 demonstrated that Jamaica’s music industry contributed 4.8 per cent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product).”

Former Jamaica Prime Minister, the Most Hon Edward Seaga (Chancellor of UTech and pioneer record producer) who conceived the ceremony, made presentations to the Jamaica Association of Vintage Artistes and Affiliates (JAVAA), Jamaica Music Society (JAMMS), Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA), Jamaica Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers (JACAP), Jamaica Federation of Musicians (JFM), and the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ).

Veteran record producer Edward O’Sullivan ‘Bunny’ Lee, Ronnie Burke, promoter/cofounder of Reggae Sunsplash and Monte Blake, a member of the legendary Merritone sound system, were also awarded.

Accepting respectively on behalf of JAVAA, JAMMS, JaRIA, JACAP, and the JFM were Frankie Campbell, Tommy Cowan, Mary Isaacs, Steve Golding and Desmond Young (JFM president).

An All Star Band set the musical tone with renditions of The Skatalites’ Freedom Sounds, Garden of Love and Confucius while Sarina Constantine literally set the place on fire with Millie Small’s My Boy Lollipop. The energetic Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts student not only offered sweet vocal synchronisation of the 1964 ska hit, but expertly executed dance moves from the era.

Percussionist Calvin Mitchell teamed with spoken word trio No-Madzz in tribute to the Ffolkes Brothers and Count Ossie with Oh Carolina. No-Madzz appeared several times, paying homage to dub poet Mutabaruka with Butter Pan Culcha.

Singing Melody

Singing Melody went over well with Desmond Dekker’s Poor Mi Israelites. One Third, with keyboardist Chis McDonald playing U Roy, rocked the auditorium with Wear You to the Ball. They returned for a salute to The Mighty Diamonds with their rendition of the trio’s I Need a Roof.

Bob Andy was present to see singer Natel give a pleasing performance of his classic I’ve Got to Go Back Home. Mr Vegas was soulful with his take on Alton Ellis’ I’m Still in Love, a performance which moved co-compere Hector Wheeler to comment: “Thank you Mr Vegas. We know Alton Ellis is smiling in Zion right now.”

Along with Mitchell, violinists Nicholas Larague and Mijan pulsated the venue with Jackie Mittoo’s Drum Song. Upcoming singer Keisha Petterson gave a remarkable interpretation of Ken Boothe’s Say You and Iba Mahr thrilled with Black Uhuru’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and Bunny Wailer’s Ballroom Floor.

Tarrus Riley

Tarrus Riley followed the same vein with Bob Marley’s Soul Rebel and Peter’s Equal Rights.

The Crown Prince of Reggae was not left out. Duane Stephenson captivated the audience with Dennis Brown’s Love and Hate (Here I Come) ahead of a solid spin on Beres Hammond’s Rockaway while Michael Sean Harris lived up to his growing reputation on Third World’s Try Jah Love.

Ikaya was superb in her tribute to Marcia Griffiths, performing Stepping Outta Babylon.

The function closed when Harris and Patterson were joined by the UTech Choir for a rendition of Jimmy Cliff’s Many Rivers to Cross.

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