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Love in the air at ‘Red Rose’

By Aaliyah Cunningham
Observer writer

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Patrons came out in their numbers last Sunday at Liguanea Club in New Kingston for Red Rose For Gregory. They enjoyed a star-studded line-up of performances.

Headliners Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle drew the curtains on what was a show fit for a king as they wooed the audience with their immaculate voices in homage to Gregory Isaacs whom the show honours.

Head of the Gregory Isaacs Foundation June Isaacs lived up to her mandate and delivered a show strong on love. One her husband would have been proud of.

“Gregory's repertoire was mainly made up of love songs, so we decided to do this in Valentine's to get a true feel of the love,” she said. “We wanted to use the show to enhance Valentine's, and the energy was really there.”

The larger venue, free-flowing lines and proper seating allowed patrons to comfortably enjoy the evening's proceedings. Those who were privileged to enjoy the VIP or premium seats were treated to complimentary drinks and appetisers. Former prime minister Portia Simpson Miller and Opposition spokesperson on energy and mining Phillip Paulwell were members of the audience.

Minutes after 10:00 pm, the venue erupted in cheers and applause to welcome Regina Belle. As she belted out her hit songs, This i s Love, Make It Like It Was and If I Could, her voice intoxicated a watchful audience, some of whom sang along to their favourite tunes. Immediately after her performance, Peabo Bryson took centrestage, performing classics like If You're Ever In My Arms, Can You Stop The Rain and I Just Came Here To Dance. As he crooned Tonight I Celebrate My Love, audience member Darrion Williams proposed to his girlfriend Alicia Newman.

“It was the perfect occasion, it's Valentine's week and I have been waiting to do it (propose). With Peabo Bryson singing it could not have been a more perfect moment,” Williams told the Jamaica Observer.

Newman, flushed with emotion, was at a loss for words.

Belle rejoined Bryson on- stage to deliver a powerful performance of their 1992 Grammy and Academy Award winner, A Whole New World. Their strong performance had some patrons in tears.

Other notable performances came from Robert Minott, Boris Gardiner, Bunny Rose, Ray Isaacs, and Junior Sinclair.

Part-proceeds from the event go to the Patricia House which assists persons with drug and alcohol addiction. Bryson and Belle were happy to contribute as Gregory Isaacs suffered from drug addiction during his career; he died in 2010 at age 59.

“I am so honoured and so proud to be a part of something like this, because I truly believe we are our brothers' and sisters' keeper. We get a chance to give back and do more and hopefully help someone overcome,” Belle told the Observer.

Bryson echoed her sentiments.

“You have to be happy to help with something that helps with addiction; we all have some sort of addiction. You have to be happy to give assistance to anything; we all have someone who needs help in that regard. You aren't just doing it for a few people; we are doing it for the masses and you have to be happy for that,” he said.

This was the third staging of Red Rose For Gregory, and June Isaacs is hoping to go bigger and better next year.

“I don't want to give away too much for next year but we are hoping to get a certain Brian McKnight and a big local act,” she said.