All-star tribute concert planned to celebrate work of Bob Andy
HIS given name is Keith Anderson, but approximately 50 years ago at the beginning of his long and distinguished musical career, he assumed the name Bob Andy.
Like other trailblazers of that era, Bob Andy was a teenager when his remarkably influential role in the development of Jamaica's popular music began. And, like the majority of those musical creators whose efforts helped to establish the beat that put Jamaica on the map, the acclaimed lyricist/vocalist/actor spent his halcyon days at the famed Studio One.
Half a century later, and with numerous hits to his credit, Bob Andy's work is arguably the most covered by his peers as well as his international counterparts.
This outstanding and prolific songwriter/hitmaker made history of sorts, earning another unique distinction when a foundation celebrating his songwriting ability was recently set up for the preservation of his musical legacy, as well as to provide for his medical welfare.
On Thursday evening, friends of Bob Andy, some of the best current and legendary musical talents, gathered at the Red Bones Blues Café in New Kingston to officially launch Bob Andy Unplugged -- a tribute concert to the songwriter set for Friday, October 28, at the Karl Hendrickson Auditorium, Jamaica College.
"This will be the music industry on show, Bob Andy's songs more than (maybe) any other Jamaican writer or composers, lend themselves to this sort of concert," Junior Lincoln said of the event that will be under the musical direction of stalwarts Dean Fraser, Ibo Cooper, Desi Jones, and Jon Williams.
"We are not just going to be seeing our legendary artistes performing, but our young, our new and up-and-coming entertainers who are going to show us their versatility as they put a different spin on Mr Andy's music. Here to let
us know that he is ready for this opportunity ladies and gentlemen, is upcoming star Protoje," declared compére Elaine Wint.
Protojé, who opened his speech with a quotation from Emperor Haile Selassie, which speaks to one generation passing the baton to another, said, having done his research, rediscovered Bob Andy, and what he found was a catalogue that is very much unmatched.
"The type of songwriter he is to me, he is a soul speaker. He speaks with so much feeling. And you really get to connect with him as a songwriter. There's an uprising coming and we really need the support and guidance from that generation," Protojé said to loud applause.
Proceeds from the concert will go to The Bob Andy Song Foundation which has been established for Andy's current and future medical expenses and other charitable endeavours.
Incorporated earlier this month, the Bob Andys Song Foundation also seeks to promote, preserve and impart the music, artistic talent and songwriting skills of Bob Andy through music education and other such programmes.
The event which is set to feature Bunny Wailer, Marcia Griffiths, Duane Stephenson, John Holt, Ken Boothe, Tony Rebel, Mutabaruka, Suzanne Couch, AJ Brown, Dwight Richards and more, will also explore Andy's rich, extensive catalogue across genres from jazz to reggae.
An effort of this magnitude is somewhat of a first for a local entertainer while he is alive.
Amazingly, his songs like I've Got to Go Back Home, Home, Too Experienced, Feeling Soul, Check It Out, Unchained, among scores of others too numerous to mention, reflect everyday realities. But there are four songs which convey his eternal optimism -- three of which have the word "Life" in their titles. These are Life, Life Could Be A Symphony and Love This Life. The fourth one is Sun Shines For Me.
"How much do we really know about songwriters," asked director/curator of Jamaica Music Museum, Herbie Miller. "Many lovers of Jamaican music," he added, "acknowledge the talent of Bob Andy as a singer, but among those who pay attention (to him) as songwriter, many
claim that he is unparalleled.
Beyond the individual acknowledgement, it is also important that institutions acknowledge the contributions citizens like Bob Andy
have made to the Jamaican society, to its civility, humanity, advancement, culture and national identity."
"The importance of Bob Andy and his place in that endeavour is paramount to the museum's mission. In that light Bob's achievement should and must be regarded as guide post to the highly creative industry as a primary area in the development in this country of ours," he added.
Guest speaker Kay Osborne put the lid on the function with snippets of Bob Andy's classics during her keynote address.
In introducing Bob Andy's smash I've Got to Go Back Home, she remarked: "When you have lived abroad as I have for 30-odd years, when tough time lick you and you have to find comfort, you found comfort in...,"
The man of the moment, who was hospitalised earlier this year, shared his feelings on the night's proceedings with the Sunday Observer.
"At this particular passage in time, this is a wonderful bridge that is certainly helping me to cross over to wellness from illness. And sometimes these things come as you need them. And I emphasise the word need. But first you need fresh air, you need light, you need water and then you need food and you need love. And that is what I see coming from this event this evening," he noted.