Best of Jamaica on show

Best of Jamaica on show

Observer senior reporter

Saturday, August 08, 2020

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THURSDAY'S staging of the Independence Spectacular closed on the uplifting note, “We Will Be Stronger”.

Gospel act Kevin Downswell was chosen to bring the curtains down on the event which had to be refashioned given the restrictions posed by the current pandemic. The organisers — the Olivia “Babsy” Grange-led Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports — were forced to 'wheel and come again' and stage a virtual event for the country's 58th Independence anniversary celebrations.

Donwswell's popular track Stronger has been reworked during the current pandemic to pay homage to our front line workers and as reassurance to the country in general that brighter days are ahead. For this remix, the talents of Tessanne Chin, Richie Stephens, Sherita Lewis, Christopher Martin, Ikaya, Wayne Marshall, Kemar Highcon, and Beenie Man have been brought to make the message even stronger.

At Thursday's show, these acts shared the stage to bring the track to life during the virtual celebration and gave Jamaicans that sense of hope.

This year's event lacked the grandeur and scale of the field in the National Stadium, its usual home. But what it lacked in size, it tried to make up with vibe, some of which failed to hit the mark.

However, the concept was to trace the country's development over the decades using music, culture and some of the stand-out moments in the life of independent Jamaica.

The two-hour pageant was anchored by actors Oliver Samuels, Ian “Ity” Ellis, Deon Silvera and Karen Harriott and saw popular acts Ken Boothe, Shaggy and Marcia Griffiths being honoured with Jamaica Reggae Icon Awards for their contribution to the growth and development of Jamaican music and its global acceptance.

All three acts were thankful to the Jamaican people for their support over the years. Boothe and Griffiths also performed. He dropped classics including When I Fall in Love and Train is Coming, while she did I Shall Sing, Dreamland and the popular Electric Boogie.

Among the other performers on the show were Kukudoo, Chevaughn Clayton, Agent Sasco, Dre Island, as well as a spirited corps of dancers drawn from a number of local groups and dance companies who were tasked with bringing the music of the decades to life.

Interestingly, all the dancers sported face shields in keeping with COVID-19 protocols.

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