Buju Banton turns 45

Friends pay tribute to Buju on his Birthday

By Richard Johnson
Observer senior reporter

Sunday, July 15, 2018

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Grammy — winning reggae artiste Buju Banton celebrates his 45th birthday today.

The artiste, born Mark Anthony Myrie, is currently an inmate at McRae Correctional Facility in Georgia, United States, where he is serving a 10-year sentence on drug-related charges. Since his 2011 conviction Myrie has spent the past eight birthdays behind bars. However this birthday is scheduled to be his last, as he has only 146 days left in his sentence.

Many of his close friends and associates are eagerly anticipating his release set for December 8, as well as his first concert.

The Jamaica Observer caught up with Donovan Germain — veteran music producer and long-time collaborator with Buju Banton, who disclosed that the artiste known for a slew of hits such as Deportee, Bogle Dance, Willy, Champion, Til I'm Laid to Rest, Driver and Magic City, is not much of a birthday person, and that while he observes the milestone he would not go to extremes to mark the day.

“I just want to wish him all the best on his day and just to let him know how much we miss him and his music, and that we are looking forward to him coming home and all that new music that I'm sure he has stored up for the world. Once you are out I also look forward to that continued success in your career, “Germain said of his protégé.

He recalled a moment with the artiste, which for him is always etched in his memory and gives the best indication of the measure and spirit of the artiste many have come to know and love.

“These were the very early days and his career was just taking off. We were in London for a performance... it was his first trip there. We were all sitting around and the next thing I know he disappeared. The next thing I knew is that he came back and had bought me a pair of shoes. Just out of nowhere. We hadn't discussed it he just bought me a pair of shoes... I believe it was a pair of Clarks. No other artiste had ever done that for me and that's why it stays with me all these years later... that is the Buju I know,” he reminisced.

Throughout his career Buju Banton has collaborated with a number of other artistes including Wayne Wonder, Beres Hammond as well as Nadine Sutherland who has had the distinction of working with him on two projects — the hit remix of Anything for You and What I'm Gonna Do, which was included in his 2003 album Friends for Life.

Like Germain, Sutherland can't wait for the artiste to 'touch road'.

“I'm waiting... waiting to see you, waiting to perform with you, waiting to just watch you perform. Anywhere I am, I have to be at that first concert. On your birthday Buju I just want you to know how much I miss you being your funny, caring, sweet, quirky self,” she told the Observer.

It is that other side of Buju Banton that only his inner circle get to experience which Sutherland said she always goes to when she is reminded of her experiences with him.

“He is a very theatrical, colourful and dramatic character. I remember when we were shooting the video for What You Gonna Do he came up to me and said: (imitating Buju Banton's deep voice) 'A some real Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman ting we a deal wid', and he just cracked everybody up. Again when we were shooting the video for Anything for You he came in and saw me there and said: ' Yuh know seh you are a real Egyptian princess', and just the way it was said everyone just burst out laughing. Plus there is that caring quality that's just amazing... nobody like Buju, and I can't wait for him to be back in the streets,” she said.

Sutherland is giving a performance in New York today and will pay tribute by performing a number of Buju Banton songs in her set.

There is still no word where his next concert will be held. In March of this year his team announced that the first concert is scheduled for the Caribbean island of Trinidad in April of next year. Speaking to journalists about the Love and Harmony Cruise, a representative stated the the artiste had selected Trinidad for the first show, with a larger event scheduled for Jamaica later next year.

This announcement drew the ire of the Jamaican reggae audience. However, which led to a reversal of the decision. There is still no announced date for the initial concert after his release.

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