Legendary music producer Chris Blackwell, who is credited with introducing The Wailers — Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer — to the international market, is set to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) at its honour awards ceremony set for February 26 at the Courtleigh Auditorium in New Kingston.
This event, will be used to wrap up a month-long series of activities in observance of Reggae Month.
The British-born Blackwell, who established Island Records in 1959, was among the first to record the Jamaican popular music that eventually became known as ska. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, into which Blackwell was inducted in 2001, has designated him ‘the single person most responsible for turning the world on to reggae music”.
According to chairman of JaRIA, Ibo Cooper, the honor award is the star event of the month of activities. “The is truly a top- level production. It is a red-carpet event that treats the music royally. In addition to what is seen and heard with the full orchestra, is the awardees. I have witnessed grown men crying when they receive the award as a lot of them have never been recognized for their work. It is not a popularity contest but is truly an honor awards. So this year, in addition to Chris Blackwell, you have people like Tata Ford, who wrote many songs including tracks like No Woman No Cry for Bob Marley, who will be honored for his contribution to the music as a songwriter.
The only two popularity awards are Song of the Year and Breakthrough Artist of the Year. What we want to do is provide what we call ‘edutainment’ for our people, so they can have an idea of the past as well as the present and future,” Cooper told the Sunday Observer.
Blackwell heads the list of 22 individuals and groups who will be recognized this year by JaRIA.
Artist-turned-producer Mikey Bennett will receive the mentorship award; Peter Chemist and Syl Gordon will be recognized for their work as sound engineers. Producers Harry Johnson and Joseph Hoo Kim will also be awarded alongside sound systems Jah Shaka and Tippa Tone.
Singers and players of instruments are not being left off this year’s list. In the category male artist, Freddie McGregor and Half pint will be recognized. While on the female side, the honor will go to Rita Marley. The Melodians will receive the award for duo of group; Carlos Malcolm and Afro-Jamaican Rhythms for band and Kevin Downswell and Otis Wright for Gospel. Bassist Glen Browne and keyboardist Robbie Lyn will also be honored.
The award for promoter goes to the organizers of the GT Taylor Christmas Extravaganza. Musicologist Bunny Goodison will receive the media award, while The Godfather of Rocksteady Alton Ellis and renowned selector Winston “Merritone” Blake will be awarded posthumously.