D Brown library coming

D Brown library coming

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

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Efforts are underway for the establishment of a library and museum to honour reggae great Dennis Brown. The foundation set up to preserve the work and legacy of the singer, popularly referred to as the Crown Prince of Reggae, has commenced.

Brown's contemporary and close friend, Freddie McGregor, shared the update with a massive audience gathered on the Kingston waterfront on Sunday for the annual tribute concert dedicated to Brown.

Speaking to the Jamaica Observer following his performance, McGregor noted that the foundation's efforts were previously concentrated on the concert. Now that the event is on its feet, the next project is a library and museum.

“Leggo [Brown's friend and former road manager, Trevor Douglas] and I have been talking about this for a long time, but most of our time and efforts were taken up doing this — making sure that the Dennis Brown Tribute Concert became an annual event; as JaRIA (Jamaica Reggae Industry Association) we really struggled to make it work,” he said. “The Minister [Olivia 'Babsy' Grange] saw what was happening, she realised she could fill the slot, and she came in and did just that. Now we see what a Dennis Brown Tribute Concert could look like, and not just the Dennis Brown concert. But for the first time, I must be honest, in February Jamaica felt different. The whole atmosphere, the many events, it really made a difference.”

McGregor continued: “For right now, we have started the discussions in terms of the library and museum. Once we are ready to go, then we will definitely make everyone aware of what we are doing in this regard.”

Brown, who died in 1999 at age 42, was a prolific hit-maker. His popular songs include Here I Come, Love Has Found Its Way, Little Green Apples, For You, Stop The Fighting, and If I Follow My Heart.

Sunday's audience, which stretched down Ocean Boulevard from the Bank of Jamaica in downtown Kingston, was pleasing to McGregor. He reflected on the humble beginnings on Orange Street, near Brown's childhood home.

“We have certainly come a far way. When I look back at the early days of the concert on Orange Street and to see this in 2020... it's a good look. It is going to be bigger and better as we all have the vision of what we really want to do and we're moving in the right direction. It is being funded properly, so it's a step in the right direction,” he said.

Brown and McGregor shared the stage on numerous occasions including the Inseparable concert series in the 1980s. But it was a performance at Reggae Sunsplash that came immediately to mind for McGregor.

“I just keep remembering Sunsplash. After we worked, we couldn't leave the venue because Dennis would be calling us up on stage, so we had to stay for the morning ride. Once he was ready, he would ask me, 'Gregory [Isaacs] and John [Holt] deh yah?' and he would just call us on and we all just seal up the morning... great vibes, great memories. We would watch people leaving the festival with the pieces of cardboard what they called reggae bed and we would be on stage in the sun having a great time,” McGregor recalled.


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