Honours in order

Howard Campbell

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

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IN terms of hit songs and endurance, Beres Hammond's place among the great reggae singers is assured.

Those qualities have earned the 60-year-old Hammond the Order of Jamaica (OJ) from the Jamaican government, which cited "his exceptional and dedicated contribution to the Jamaican music industry".

The government announced its annual National Honours and Awards list Monday evening.

Hammond is among seven persons who will receive Jamaica's fourth highest honour, to be handed out by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen on October 21 at King's House.

The St Mary-born Hammond has been recording since the early 1970s. Though he first came to prominence as lead singer for the Zap Pow band and a solo balladeer with producer Willie Lindo during that decade, it was not until the 1980s when he embraced the emerging dancehall sound that he broke through in a big way.

The Lindo-produced What One Dance Can Do revived his career in the mid-1980s. By the next decade, Hammond was a bona fide star, recording countless hit songs for producers like Donovan Germain, head of Penthouse Records.

Germain, whose hits with Hammond include Tempted To Touch and Pull up The Vibes, describes him as an "exceptional talent".

"It's a learning experience to see his creativity...how he writes a song to how he delivers it," says Germain.

Delroy Wilson, the prodigy who influenced Hammond and other great reggae singers like Dennis Brown, has been posthumously awarded the Order of Distinction. He died in 1995 at age 46.

Wilson had hits as a ska (King Pharaoh), rock steady (Dancing Mood, Superstar) and reggae (Better Must Come, Cool Operator) performer. Musicologist Bunny Goodison, a friend and admirer of Wilson, says the recognition is overdue.

"It's one of the most enlightened things the Government has done in terms of the music. I'm only sorry he isn't around to appreciate it."

Impresario Ronnie Nasralla, musician Filberto 'Fil' Callender, deejay Richard Bennett, best known to dancehall fans as Charlie Chaplin, classical pianist Orrett Rhoden and veteran actor Volier Johnson, will also receive ODs.

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