'Let's do this in JA'

Observer senior writer

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

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After performing at an all-star show celebrating reggae's 50th anniversary in London, singer Freddie McGregor says a similar event should be held in Jamaica. The London gig took place on March 12 at the Royal Albert Hall and was promoted by popular British disc jockey, David Rodigan.

“It's kinda sad that it's reggae's 50th anniversary and we are celebrating it in the UK. We definitely should be doing something in Jamaica on a big scale by way of a concert, because the artistes who represented the music are there,” McGregor told the Jamaica Observer. “It makes you wonder how we see our own reggae music in our own country.”

Rodigan assembled a diverse cast of artistes to perform at the Royal Albert Hall, backed by the 25-piece Outlook Orchestra, directed by Tommy Evans. Winston Francis, who began recording in the rocksteady era of the mid-1960s, was among the performers, so too Maxi Priest, Bitty McLean and Holly Cook.

The show attracted a full-house of 5,200 which McGregor said dispels talk of reggae being a spent force.

“It was truly amazing, amazing for reggae music. Some people say reggae is on the down-low; I say you are wrong, reggae is on the up. You just need to understand what's happening.”

Though the first songs considered reggae ( Do The Reggay by Toots and The Maytals and Nanny Goat by Larry and Alvin) were actually recorded in 1968, the Jamaican government has designated 2019 as the music's 50th anniversary. Earlier this year, entertainment minister Olivia Grange initiated the Reggae Gold Awards at the National Indoor Centre in Kingston and honoured 100 artistes, musicians and producers who contributed to developing Jamaican music.

The 63-year-old McGregor started his career over 50 years ago at Studio One as a protégé of producer Clement “Coxsone” Dodd. He was one of the biggest reggae acts of the 1980s with a number of hit songs such as Push Come to Shove and Big Ship.

He performed those songs at the Royal Albert Hall show.

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