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Gospel according to Nooks

Artiste among 25 to be recognised at JaRIA's awards ceremony

Observer writer

Monday, February 11, 2019

Although he has been doing music for more than four decades, George Nooks said the announcement that he will receive a Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) Honour Award came as a surprise.

“I wasn't expecting it. I am just doing my job and I am honoured that I will be rewarded for my hard work. I am humbled,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

Nooks, 61, is one of 25 artistes/organisations to be recognised at JaRIA's awards ceremony on March 5 at Little Theatre in St Andrew. He, along with singer Sandra Brooks, will receive the Gospel Icon Award.

The singer, however, does not identify himself solely as a gospel artiste.

“I'm not a gospel artiste — I'm an artiste,” he said. “I have been doing music for over 40 years, that's basically all my life. The thing is, I produce decent music. I don't tell ladies about their parts or preach about gun... A pastor could talk about it (my songs) in church. I do gospel but I don't want it to seem like I only sing gospel; that is where I started, but I do other songs.”

Nooks burst on the entertainment scene in the 1970s as Rastafarian deejay Prince Mohammed. His hit songs for producer Joe Gibbs include Tribal War (as George Nooks) and Forty Leg Dread.

His singing was inspired by Dennis Brown, his mentor, who he paid tribute to with a double album of covers. Brown, reggae's “Crown Prince”, died in July 1999.

After a decade-long absence from the charts, Nooks roared back in 2001 with God is Standing By, a cover of Al Green's gospel hit of the same name.

He has been a popular live and recording act since.

Nooks' career has had a couple bumps. One took place in May 2017 when he was arrested in Kingston for cocaine possession. Though the matter is before the courts, he does not believe it has affected him.

“People that loved me still love me, and I have been doing this for a long time so that didn't change anything. I will continue producing great music as long as God gives me the strength, voice and power. I will continue doing what I do,” he said.

Other JaRIA awardees this year include producers Donovan Germain, Dave Kelly, Winston Riley, Harry Johnson and Lloyd Charmers; musicians Lester Sterling, Felix “Deadly Headley” Bennett, and Ruff Kutt Band; artistes Capleton, Tanya Stephens, Derrick Harriott, Eric Donaldson, and The I-Three (Marcia Griffths, Rita Marley and Judy Mowatt); audio engineers Delroy “Fatta” Pottinger and Noel Hearne; and journalist Anthony Miller.

Bennett, Johnson, Riley and Charmers will be honoured posthumously.