MUSICOLOGIST Bunny Goodison believes the entertainment industry has been suitably recognised at this year's National Honours and Awards, with three of reggae's outstanding performers to receive the Order of Merit and Order of Jamaica.
"My first thought when I heard the list was, 'respect due to those who put some thought into selecting some unheralded artistes'," Goodison told the Jamaica Observer. "It's a good start and I hope it continues."
Peter Tosh, Bunny 'Wailer' Livingston and Frederick 'Toots' Hibbert head the list of entertainment honourees for annual national awards which will be presented on National Heroes Day in October. Tosh will posthumously receive the Order of Merit, the country's third highest honour, while Wailer and Toots have been awarded the Order of Jamaica, the fourth highest honour.
Tosh, who was murdered by gunmen at his St Andrew home in September, 1987, was an outspoken advocate for black pride and the legalisation of ganja. Along with Wailer and Marley, he was a founding member of the Wailers.
Toots is a contemporary of the Wailers, having started as a ska act in the early 1960s.
In an interview with the Jamaica Observer in May, Goodison said when it came to national honours, there was a bias toward politicians and persons with a corporate profile. He argued that musicians have done more for Jamaica's image internationally, but they have been overlooked by committees with little knowledge of their achievements.
This year, in addition to Tosh, Wailer and Toots, other music industry stalwarts being recognised are producer Lee 'Scratch' Perry and bass player Clifton 'Jackie' Jackson. Both will receive the Order of Distinction, Jamaica's fifth highest honour.
While he is satisfied that the National Honours and Awards committee broadened their reach, he is disappointed that singer Delroy Wilson was again ommited.
"The indifference to Delroy is disrespectful. For somebody who had hits from he was 13 years old in ska, rock steady and reggae, he deserves more," Goodison said.
Wilson, Jamaica's fist child pop star, died in 1995.
Members of the local entertainment and sports arenas have long criticised the selection policy of the National Honours and Awards. Like Goodison, they say it favours politicians and private sector bigwigs.
In March, 2008 Prime Minister Bruce Golding appointed a human resources and social committe to, among other things, "review the system of National Honours and Awards and make recommendations as to the changes that may be necessary to preserve and enhance the value of national awards, while ensuring that appropriate recognition is given to those who render outstanding services to the nation".
The committee was made up of politicians from Jamaica's two major political parties. They were Maxine Henry-Wilson (chairman), Shahine Robinson, Michael Stern, Dr St Aubyn Bartlett, Franklyn Witter, Desmond Mair, Othneil Lawrence, Tarn Peralto, Fenton Ferguson, Kern Spencer, Rev Ronald Thwaites, Natalie Neita-Headley and Colin Fagan.