OLYMPIC TRACKS: climes of Michael’s Manchester
The Olympic Games officially start today in London. Jamaica, which won a record 11 medals at the previous Games in Beijing, China, is once again expected to figure prominently among the medals. The Jamaica Observer presents the sixth in a series on the Parish of some of our top athletes.
SITUATED in the county of Middlesex, the parish of Manchester is known for its lush vegetation and cool climate. It is where 100 metres sprinter and captain of Jamaica's Olympic team, Michael Frater, was born.
Frater, 29, was part of the successful 4X100 relay team that won the gold medal in record time in Bejing. He also earned gold in the relays at the World Championships in Berlin and Daegu, South Korea, in 2009 and 2011, respectively.
Manchester has also produced some of reggae/dancehall's finest acts such as guitar maestro Ernie Ranglin, singers Garnet Silk, Luciano, and Ce'Cile, as well as deejays General Degree and Tony Rebel.
Winston 'Wee Pow' Powell, founder of the Stone Love sound system, was also born in Manchester.
"Manchester has always been a hot spot for entertainment being that the parish does not only produce top artistes and great music but also a host of nightclubs, sound systems and bands," said Tony Rebel.
Tony Rebel (real name Patrick Barrett) hails from the district of Carpenters Mountain. Along with Garnet Silk and dub poet Yasus Afari, he led a rebirth of consciousness in dancehall music during the early 1990s.
He told Splash that sound systems such as Thunder Storm and Black Organ attracted numerous musicans in the 1980s and 1990s.
"The sound systems were the medium that allowed me to meet entertainers such as Chaka Demus, General Trees, Peter Metro, and Little Kirk as they use to travel from Kingston and other parishes to deejay on the sound systems," he said.
He added that several dancehall artistes back then used spirituality to reach out to fans.
"Artistes like Charlie Chaplin and Brigadier Jerry would often singjay gospel songs on reggae/dancehall 'riddims'. This was really good entertainment as these songs were sometimes performed during church sessions or sometimes a dancehall session would be transformed into that of a church," the Fresh Vegetable deejay recalled.
General Degree (Cardiff Butt), best known for songs like Granny and Traffic Blocking, remembers going to entertainment events at Brooks Park.
"It was a major entertainment spot that hosted numerous stage shows. Also Grand Market in Manchester is one of a kind, therefore persons would travel from even overseas to enjoy the festivities that the parish had to offer," he said.
"There was also a sound system called Wa Dat Disco that attracted the likes of Yellowman."
In the 1990s, live shows such as Rebel Salute, Knox Salute and Reggae Magic all attracted thousands of patrons to Manchester.