JaRIA warms Cole’s heart

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

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FOR veteran artiste Stranger Cole, being recognised by the Jamaica Reggae Industry Assoccition (JaRIA), is overwhelming.

The singer, born Wilburn Theodore Cole, will receive an Icon Award at JaRIA’s honours ceremony at Courtleigh Auditorium in New Kingston, on Sunday.

"I feel so honoured to be getting something for the work that I have done," he told the Jamaica Observer.

"What makes me feel even better is that I am receiving this honour while I am still alive. So many of the vintage music artistes are recognised after we pass on. So this makes me feel very special, especially since I am still working after all these years."

Cole recently returned from Australia and Germany. Next month, he heads to England and Japan for more shows.

He got his break in the early 1960s, around the time Jamaica achieved political independence. Through family links, he earned an audition with producer Duke Reid.

"My brother Sir Lord Cuttings played on Duke Reid’s sound system so that made it a little easier for me to get in to sing for him but nothing was guaranteed. The first time I auditioned I sang a song called In And Out the Window. He told me that I could not sing as well as the other guys he had so he gave the song to Monty Morris and it went to number one on the charts."

In And Out the Window gave him another audition with Reid who told him this time, "Since you can write so well, you better sing good too."

He would record two tracks for Reid which gave his career the kick-start it needed. Rough and Tough and When I Call Your Name, a duet with singer Patsy Todd, were both hits.

Cole is pleased with his career.

"Oh, yes, I’m so happy to see where the music has gone... it is an international thing, it’s global. When you think in the early years we were told the music could not go anywhere, and to see where it has taken me, that makes me proud and pleased that I have made a contribution to Jamaican music," he said.

However, he is concerned about the lack of government support for reggae.

"The government needs to play a bigger part. There are people all over the world doing things with our music. A lot more needs to be done to organise ourselves so that we can protect our music. This is very important," Cole warns.

He points to Hey Hey Baby, another duet with Todd, as one of his favourite songs.

"I bought my house out of that song. It gave me a roof over my head and still puts food on my table."

Other recipients of this year’s JaRIA Award are Yellowman (Icon), Chaka Demus and Pliers (Icon), Gem Myers (Icon), Claudelle Clarke (Icon), Sister Scully (Icon) and Ernie Smith (Songwriter).

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