R&B Meets Reggae concert for Florida
SINCE moving to South Florida from New York City in the early- 1980s, Luther 'Luther Mack' McKenzie has played a pivotal role in that region's reggae scene, acting as artiste manager, radio disc jockey and show promoter.
On Sunday, the Portland-born McKenzie dons his promoter's hat for the R&B Meets Reggae concert at Miramar Park. The show's stars include reggae acts Ken Boothe, Nadine Sutherland, Singing Melody, Kashief Lindo and JR Evan, as well as veteran soul singers Jeffrey Osbourne, Dorothy Moore and Millie Jackson.
"Wherever on the planet you find a Jamaican you will find soul music, and it is the same here in South Florida," he told Splash recently.
He said South Florida has gradually shaken its image as a slow-paced area for retirees to become one of the most vibrant locations for major reggae shows such as the annual Nine Mile Music Festival promoted by the Marley family, and recent events like Icons of Reggae, which was held in Lauderhill in March.
"The live scene here is on fire," he said. "You can get good crowds as long as you bring the right artiste for the right price."
The city of Miramar is home to a large Jamaican community. Three of its commissioners are Jamaicans, including former Radio Jamaica and Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation disc jockey, Winston Barnes.
McKenzie migrated to New York City from the fishing town of Manchioneal, Portland in 1969, and played in reggae bands in the Big Apple for over 10 years. He moved to South Florida in 1982, promoting his first show in downtown Miami two years later, featuring Cocoa Tea and Papa San.
In the last 20 years, he has promoted reggae on the Miami nightclub circuit, produced the Reggae Soca Music Awards for 13 consecutive years and hosted the Music Lessons programme on Wavs FM.
McKenzie is perhaps best known to Jamaican artistes as former president of Shang Records Miami during the 1990s when he and impresario Clifton 'Specialist' Dillon managed the careers of Mad Cobra, Patra and Kymani Marley.
Part proceeds from R&B Meets Reggae will go to the Manchioneal Children's Fund, a charity run by McKenzie's family for over 30 years.