Eddy Edwards... Miami’s jerk king

Eddy Edwards... Miami’s jerk king

BY KEVIN JACKSON Observer Writer

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

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This is the second in a 10-part series looking at Jamaicans excelling in the South Florida entertainment/lifestyle scene.

EVEN though he migrated to the United States over 35 years ago, Carson 'Eddy' Edwards retains ties to his Jamaican roots. He has been involved in a number of projects in the US promoting Jamaican culture, especially jerk food events in Miami and New York City.

His latest production is the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival in Miami, scheduled for Sunday at Markham Park.

Having worked in media (print, television and radio), Edwards is the CEO for two companies -- Riddims Marketing and Jamaican Jerk Festival USA Inc, both located in Miami Gardens. Jamaican Jerk Festival USA Inc promotes the annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festivals in New York and Miami.

"I grew up in Harbour View but migrated to Queens, New York, in 1979. In 1981 I moved to Florida," the 59-year-old Edwards told the Jamaica Observer.

Music, his childhood passion, saw him hanging around the Harbour View sound system El Gong which was manned by Errol 'ET' Thompson of Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation fame. Edwards later became a selector at house parties and nightclubs.

Edwards' affiliation with media began in 1984 as a production assistant at WVCG radio in Florida. He eventually produced and hosted the show Caribbean Rhythms. The show now airs on WZAB radio as Caribbean Riddims and is produced by Edwards' Riddims Marketing.

He explained how he got into events promotion.

"A friend of mine, Noel Martin, approached me about doing a show in Florida with the Bloodfire Posse. At that time, their song Get Flat was a monster hit back in 1984. The show was held at the Newport Beach Resort on Miami Beach and was a financial loss, but a great show which led to a regular Saturday night Caribbean party at the resort where I was promoter and DJ for a few years," Edwards explained.

Among the events/shows that he has promoted or been affiliated with are the Jamaica Awareness Day in Miami (which evolved into the Miami Reggae Festival); Reggae Symphony featuring John Holt, Freddie McGregor and Lloyd Parks and We the People band; Reggae Jazz Fusion with Monty Alexander, Maxi Priest and AJ Brown; Air Jamaica Islands in the Park; and Valentine's Day shows in New York.

But Edwards is best known for the jerk festivals in Miami and the Big Apple which draw thousands of patrons annually. The Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival held in both cities are staples on the West Indian calendar, attracting as many as 10,000 patrons.

Edwards attributes the success of the events to their wide-ranging appeal.

"The success of the Jamaican Jerk Festival in Florida and New York is based on the fact that the event appeals to every sector of the community. There is something for every member of the family and every effort is made to give patrons a satisfying experience," he said. "The combination of food, music and culture in a family-friendly atmosphere crosses ethnic and racial barriers and appeals to all and sundry."


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