Entertainment

Keeping the legacy alive

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior writer

Wednesday, July 25, 2012    

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Next month, it will be 50 years since Jamaica gained Independence from Britain. Today, the Jamaica Observer's Entertainment section reflects on the influence Jamaican pop culture has had on that country in REGGAE BRITANNIA, a weekly feature leading up to the Golden Jubilee.

THE hundreds of Jamaicans who immigrated to Britain during the 1950s made the taxing trip with their

culture intact.

It was not long before Jamaican restaurants began popping up in London and throughout the Midlands. Blues dances, driven by blaring sound systems, became the rage.

Music maybe the Jamaican's greatest contribution to British culture. Many of the first-generation Jamaican Britons who inherited their family's legacy have expanded it considerably. Here are some

of them:

DAVID HINDS: Born in Handsworth, Birmingham to parents from St Ann, Hinds, leader of the Steel Pulse band, is one of reggae's great songwriters. Songs like Rally Round the Flag, Chant a Psalm, Bodyguard and Stepping Out focused on black pride and the injustices minorities faced in Britain. Many of Hinds' songs are roots standards and among the finest in the music's history.

MAXI PRIEST: Born in London in 1961 to parents who hailed from Manchester, Maximillian Elliott (his real name) became a pillar of the lovers rock sound that exploded in Britain 30 years ago. Priest came to the attention of Jamaicans through songs like Should I and Wild World, then broke into the pop mainstream a decade later with

the platinum-selling 1990

album Bonafide.

MUSICAL YOUTH: Best known for the big-selling song, Pass The Dutchie, two members of this group were sons of Frederick Waite, an original member of rock steady group, the Techniques. Pass The Dutchie topped the British national chart in 1982 and made the quintet instant stars. They followed-up with Heartbreaker and Unconditional Love, which was done with disco queen Donna Summer. The group is planning a comeback.

BITTY McLEAN: Birmingham-born, Bitty McLean started out as a sound engineer who toured as a member of UB40's production team. He gained a Jamaican following with his hit songs, Make it With You and Walk Away From Love, taken from his 2007 album, On Bond Street KGN Ja.

SMILEY CULTURE: London-born, this popular deejay's father was Jamaican and mother, Guyanese. He got his start (like Maxi Priest) on the Saxon sound system and broke through in England and Jamaica with his 1984 song Cockney Translation. He had another big hit that year with Police Officer. Smiley Culture, who later became a drug dealer, died under controversial circumstances in March, 2011.

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