Fitting tribute to Bernard Collins

Monday, July 25, 2016

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Though he co-wrote reggae’s ‘anthem’ and is a member of one of the music’s seminal groups, Bernard ‘Satta’ Collins is not a household name.

Collins can be seen most evenings excercising at Emancipation Park in New Kingston. Throughout the year, he performs sporadically with roots trio The Abyssinians, famous for the classic 1971 song, Satta Massagana.

On Saturday, Collins will be honoured for his contribution to reggae at the annual Tribute To The Greats show at Curphey Place in Kingston.

At the event’s launch on July 12, Collins expressed gratitude for the recognition, calling it ‘a pleasure to be a part of this’.

Collins, who is in his late 60s, was raised in Trench Town, an expansive ghetto and epicentre for the Rastafarian movement during the 1960s.

Along with the Manning brothers, Lynford and Donald, he co-wrote Satta Massagana which was recorded in 1969 and released two years later. Collins is the sole author of Declaration of Rights and Forward On To Zion, other outstanding songs by the Abyssinians.

Multi-instrumentalist Clive Hunt produced the group’s 1976 debut album, Satta Massagana, which includes the aforementioned songs.

He describes Collins as "one of reggae’s special voices" whose vocals were complemented by the Mannings’ "perfectly-co-ordinated harmonies".

Collins still performs with the Mannings on shows in Europe. In Jamaica, he works with his version of the Abyssinians, George Henry and Melvin Trusty.

The other members of Tribute To The Greats’ Class of 2016 are the Browne family, which includes 90-year-old matriarch Sylvia and her sons Glen, Dalton, Noel, Cleveland and Danny; singer/songwriter Anthony ‘Sangie’ Davis; trumpeter Raymond Harper, bandleader and trumpeter Oswald ‘Baba’ Brooks (posthumously); singer Desmond Young; drummer Hector ‘Bunny’ Williams of the Soul Vendors Band; and George Ximines of Black Prince sound system.

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