Entertainment

Marcia Griffiths to receive Order of Distinction

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior writer

Thursday, August 07, 2014    

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MARCIA Griffiths, one of reggae's enduring talents, leads a field of entertainment stalwarts receiving awards in the annual National Honours and Awards.

Griffiths will receive the Order of Distinction (Commander class) at the ceremony which takes place October 20 at King's House. It is the country's fifth highest honour.

Griffiths was previously awarded the OD (Officer class).

The 64-year-old singer is celebrating her 50th anniversary in the music business, an accomplishment recognised this year by organisers of the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival and organisations like the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association.

Her recording career began at Studio One in the rocksteady era. There, she cut a number of dance hits including Feel Like Jumping, Melody Life and Really Together (with Bob Andy).

A highlight of Griffiths' career came in the 1970s when she toured and recorded as a member of the I Three, Bob Marley's harmony group.

Even then, her solo career thrived with a number of classic sides like Stepping Outa Babylon and Dreamland.

Griffiths had a massive hit during the 1980s with the Bunny Wailer-written Electric Boogie. A decade later, she was part of the thriving Penthouse Records, led by producer Donovan Germain.

Trumpeter Bobby Ellis, bass player Phil Chen, influential dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, Carl Brady (a founding member of Byron Lee and the Dragonaires), and Winston 'Wee Pow' Powell, founder of the Stone Love sound system, will also receive ODs for their contribution to Jamaican music.

Sculptor Laura Facey and theatre veteran Douglas Bennett, have also been awarded ODs.

A past student of the Alpha Boys School in Kingston, Ellis played on, and arranged, some seminal reggae songs including Bob Andy's I Wanna go Back Home and Marcus Garvey by Burning Spear.

He also played on Feel Like Jumping and Melody Life.

David Madden, a trumpeter and Alpha 'old boy', hailed the national recognition of Ellis' work.

"He's a top-class musician. Bobby Ellis is one of the persons I wanted to be like in terms of arranging music," Madden said.

Chen, like Brady, is a graduate of St George's College. His career began as a guitarist with The Vagabonds, but he switched to bass after moving to the United Kingdom in the late 1960s.

Chen has played with some of the biggest names in pop music such as influential guitarist Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart and The Doors.

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