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By Brian Bonitto—

 Top: Novlyn ‘Lovey’ Banton and son, Garnet Silk Jr, at the premiere of Destiny at the Carib 5 theatre in October.
Bottom: From left – Garnet Silk Jr., Wayzero Smith, Derron Smith, Arrayma Smith and Fabian Smith—-

NOVLYN ‘Lovey’ Banton remembers her partner, roots-reggae singer Garnet Silk, as “a good father, a good friend, and a good person.”

“He was a very jovial person, always smiling. I enjoyed watching TV and talking with him in the nights,” said Banton.

She recalls meeting the then aspiring singer after her family relocated next door to him in Wards Park, Hatfield district in Manchester. She was 16.

“He had a mouth on him. He would stop at nothing. He would get out in the yard and start singing until I came out my house,” Banton, 43, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

She said the singer’s advances were ignored until he decided to up the ante.

Garnet Silk

Garnet Silk

“He offered to walk me to church one Sunday. My mother and siblings had gone on before me,” she said. “I started to cuss him. He would not let up. But that was the beginning.”

She said the relationship blossomed, but not without its challenges.

“After first, my mother didn’t approve, since we attended church regularly, while he [Garnet] was going to dances,” she said.

The couple would later engage and she bore him four — two boys and two girls — of his seven children.

Banton said Silk’s conversion to Rastafari “just happened”.

“It happened really fast. Yasus Afari was instrumental. He met up with Tony Rebel. He was under their guidance and they nurtured,” she said.

Along with dub poet Afari and deejay Rebel, Smith (who assumed the moniker Garnet Silk) embarked on a roots revival that transformed Jamaica’s musical landscape during the 1990s.

Tony Rebel & Garnet Silk

Tony Rebel & Garnet Silk

The movement also comprised singers Everton Blender, Uton Green, and deejay Kulcha Knox.

Hits songs Hello Mama Africa, Lion Heart, Nothing Shall Divide Us and Zion in a Vision established Silk as a game-changer in the industry which was dominated with risqué and violent songs.

However, just as he soared as the brightest star, Silk star faded.

He and his mother, Etiga Gray, perished in a fire at her home in Manchester on December 9, 1994. He was 28 years old.


“When Garnet died it shocked the world. It was challenging for me. I was six months pregnant with Garnet Silk Jr and nearly had a miscarriage twice,” she said.

Banton said the family, who were now living in Kingston, had gone to Manchester for the week.

“I was at his sister’s house in Balvenie Heights. That about seven to 10 minutes away from his mother’s house. His brother, Paul Cassanova, came to the house and said: ‘Mama house blow up’. He was burnt and his clothes burnt. I asked him: ‘Where was Garnet?’ He said: ‘Garnet was dead!’ For a minute I was out,” Banton recalled.

She said thousands of people were at the scene of fire.

“When I went to his mother’s house, it looked like Reggae Sumfest or Sting, with the amount of people. It was horrible. I almost fainted two times.”

Banton said she gives God thanks she was able, as a single mom, to keep her children on the “straight and narrow”.

“All the children were minors when Garnet died and he died intestate. I sought the services of a lawyer, so I’m waiting on the Administrator General since the last one has turned 18. Garnet Silk Jr is 20 in April. So come January everything will fall into place. They’ll help taking care of his legacy,” she said.

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