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» BREAKING NEWS, Featured » INNER CIRCLE, THE MIGHTY DIAMONDS, SUGAR MINOTT, BLACK UHURU, NADINE SUTHERLAND, ERIC DONALDSON AND EARL CHINNA SMITH, AMONG THE ELITE WITHOUT JAMAICA’S NATIONAL HONORS!

INNER CIRCLE, THE MIGHTY DIAMONDS, SUGAR MINOTT, BLACK UHURU, NADINE SUTHERLAND, ERIC DONALDSON AND EARL CHINNA SMITH, AMONG THE ELITE WITHOUT JAMAICA’S NATIONAL HONORS!

Karl Pitterson—
 TODAY, 171 individuals will be conferred with national awards with the pomp and pageantry associated with this occasion at King’s House in St Andrew.

Veteran reggae singer Bunny Wailer — who will be getting an Order of Merit, Jamaica’s third-highest honour — heads the list of recipients, which includes representatives from the arts, public service, science, and business.

While we salute this year’s awardees, the Jamaica Observer’s Entertainment Desk will be looking at 10 acts who have surprisingly not received national awards, despite an impressive body of work.

Bunny Wailers

Bunny Wailers

 

1. INNER CIRCLE

Spending most of their summers on the road, Inner Circle remains relevant.

The band, which celebrates its 50th anniversary next year, achieved major success with lead singer Jacob Miller in the 1970’s. Tenement Yard, Forward Ever Backward Never and Tired Fi Lick Weed Inna Bush cemented the group as bona fide hit-makers.

Inner Circle

Inner Circle

After Miller’s untimely passing in a 1980 car crash, founding members and brothers Ian and Roger Lewis, and Bernard “Touter” Harvey migrated to Miami, Florida.

The band continued with its winning ways with the smash hits Sweat (A La La La La Long) and Bad Boys.

They won the 1994 Best Reggae Album with Bad Boys.

Earl Chinna Smith

Earl Chinna Smith

2. EARL “CHINNA” SMITH

Making his recording debut as a teenager in 1968, Earl “Chinna” Smith has played countless sessions and been on numerous tours with reggae’s elite artistes.

The 62-year-old guitarist celebrates his 50th anniversary in the music business next year.

He got his start with the venerable Soul Syndicate Band. Over the years, he has played on seminal albums and songs by Bob Marley ( Rastaman Vibration), Burning Spear ( Marcus Garvey), Jimmy Cliff (Special), Dennis Brown ( No More Shall I Roam, Cassandra), Lauryn Hill ( The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill) and Amy Winehouse ( Frank).

He also wrote Fade Away, the classic Junior Byles song, Brown’s Bloody City and Jah Never Fail I Yet by Freddie McGregor.

Smith is recognised as reggae’s premier guitarist.

The Mighty Diamonds

The Mighty Diamonds

3. THE MIGHTY DIAMONDS

Veteran harmony trio, The Mighty Diamonds has been recording since 1969 and is considered roots-reggae icons.

The group is known for standards including Roof Over my Head, Right Time, and Pass The Kutchie.

The outfit comprises Donald “Tabby” Shaw, Fitzroy “Bunny” Simpson and Lloyd “Judge” Ferguson.

They have produced more than 40 albums and are still actively performing.

 

4. KARL PITTERSON

As an audio engineer, Karl Pitterson is always behind the scenes. However, his talents are brought to the fore on Bob Marley’s Exodus which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. That set was declared Best Album of the 20th century by Time magazine in 1999.

Jamming, Waiting in Vain, One Love/People Get Ready, and Three Little Birds from the album were all major international hits.

Pitterson also produced Steel Pulse’s seminal set True Democracy, released in May 1982.

That set boasts hits including Chant A Psalm, Worth His Weight In Gold (Rally Round) and Blues Dance Raid.

In 2015, Jamaica Reggae Industry Association recognised Pitterson for his contribution to the growth and development of Jamaican music.

Eric Monty Morris

Eric Monty Morris

5. ERIC “MONTY” MORRIS

Born in Kingston, Eric “Monty” Morris began recording in the early 1960’s for Prince Buster. In 1964, he was part of a Jamaican delegation (with Millie Small and Jimmy Cliff) that went to the New York World’s Fair.

While he had his share of hits for Buster and Byron Lee, he never attained the international status of his contemporaries, Buster and Derrick Morgan.

In a 2016 interview with the Jamaica Observer, he said he would like to do more shows.

“Di voice still strong an’ di people enjoy di music, but wi would like do more show. Mi neva touch England yet; me’d a love a ‘bligh’ fi reach there,” said Morris.

That voice made songs like Oil In My Lamp, Sammy Dead, Wings Of A Dove, and Say What You Say hits during the 1960s.

Sugar Minott

Sugar Minott

6. SUGAR MINOTT

Singer Sugar Minott left Studio One in 1978, after a successful stint, to start Black Roots Records label and Youthman Promotion sound system, which assisted in exposing inner-city talent. Singers Tristan Palmer, Little John, Tenor Saw, Junior Reid, Yami Bolo and Garnett Silk are just some of the artistes who passed through Youthman Promotions.

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

A dancehall trailblazer in Japan, he helped introduce the sound system culture to that country in the 1980’s.

In 2011, American photographer/author Beth Lesser, who first met Minott during the 1980’s, 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.

He died in May 2010.

Black Uhuru

Black Uhuru

7. BLACK UHURU

Most students of reggae would agree, dancehall music ruled the roost in Jamaica for most of the 1980’s. While many artistes went the computer route, a group from Waterhouse carried the roots flag with distinction.

Black Uhuru formed in that Kingston community during the early 1970’s with Duckie Simpson, Garth Dennis, and Don Carlos among its original members. It was not until late that decade the group broke through with a different brand of roots-reggae.

In 1985, the classic line-up of Simpson, American Puma Jones and Michael Rose won the first Reggae Grammy for the album Anthem.

Their hits include Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Plastic Smile, Abortion and General Penitentiary.

Rose left the group in 1985; Jones died in 1990. Black Uhuru still tours with Simpson at the helm.

Nadine Sutherland

Nadine Sutherland

8. NADINE SUTHERLAND

At 11-years old, Nadine Sutherland dismissed her competition, which included Yellowman and Paul Blake, to win the Tastee Talent Content in 1979.

This caught the attention of reggae star Bob Marley, who signed her to his Tuff Gong label. That union produced the hit song Starvation on the Land.

Now 49, Sutherland has lived up to that early promise. In 1993 she had a massive hit with Action, alongside deejay Terror Fabulous, for producer Donovan Germain.

Two years later, Sutherland scored again on Canadian rapper Snow’s Anything For You. The all-star track featured Beenie Man, Buju Banton, Kulture Knox, Louie Culture and Terror Fabulous.

Multiple festival winner Eric Donaldson

Multiple festival winner Eric Donaldson

9. ERIC DONALDSON

It’s hard to believe that Eric Donaldson, “Mr Festival” has never received a national award. He won the Festival Song Contest on six occasions, including 1978 for Land of My Birth, a power song some consider Jamaica’s unofficial national anthem.

Born in Bog Walk, Donaldson first came to national prominence in 1971 with Cherry Oh Baby, which won the Festival Contest.

Interestingly, Ian and Roger Lewis of Inner Circle played on that song, and it too been covered by The Rolling Stones and UB40, among others.

Stanley Beckford

Stanley Beckford

10. STANLEY BECKFORD

With his high-pitched voice, singer Stanley Beckford almost singlehandedly kept mento in the mainstream from the 1970’s to the 1990’s.

In the 1970’s when roots-reggae was the rage, Beckford had hit songs like Soldering, which has been covered by Hall and Oates, Leave My Kisiloo and Brown Gal.

The Portland-born Beckford also won the Festival Song Contest four times with Come Sing with Me (1980), Dem A Fi Squirm (1986), Dem A Pollute with the Astronauts (1994), and Fi Wi Island A Boom (2000).

Beckford, who died from cancer at age 65 in March 2007, made mento cool long before fans discovered the Jolly Boys.

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