DISAPPOINTMENT

Entertainment

DISAPPOINTMENT

Steffens vows to continue Toots fight

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, February 14, 2021

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THE team behind the recent effort to have reggae icon Frederick “Toots” Hibbert inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is pledging their commitment to the cause despite not succeeding in getting the late singer named as one of the nominees for the 2021 cohort of inductees.

The bid to have Hibbert – who is credited with giving the reggae genre its name thanks to his 1969 hit Do The Reggay – inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is being driven by reggae music insiders Rogger Steffens, Wayne Jobson and Mike Pawka but hit a snag last Wednesday when the nominees of 2020 were announced sans Hibbert. However, according to Steffens, this has not lessened the resolve of the trio to push forward until there is a positive outcome.

“I'm very upset. Toots doesn't even seem to have been entered into discussion at the recent Rock Hall nominations meeting. [This is] despite the vigorous enthusiasm of the more than 8,000 folks worldwide who signed our petition. We'll keep that open and hope to have tens of thousands of added signatures by this time next year,” Steffens told the Jamaica Observer in an interview.

Ealier this year the team launched a petition seeking the support of reggae lovers and Toots Hibbert fans worldwide in order to strengthen the cause to have Toots named to the Ohio, USA-based organisation which recognises the contributions of musicians to the industry.

Steffens further noted that this bump in the road is no reason to give up the bid to have Toots inducted.

“Since the names of the members of the nominating committee are secret, it's hard to know who to lobby, but Wayne and Mikey and I will continue until we get him in there. Here's hoping for next year,” he noted.

Only two other Jamaican artistes have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, reggae king Bob Marley, who was named in 1994, and Jimmy Cliff who was added in 2009.

“Why is the very creator of the word 'reggae' not there alongside of them? He has spread the message of Jah music throughout the world and was active to the very end of his life, with a bright new album released just days before his passing. His performances were like no one else's and earned respect throughout the entire world of popular music, with collaborations with some of the planet's biggest stars who were proud to record alongside him. His career spanned more than six decades, with countless awards and headlining major international festivals, spreading Jamaican culture to the ends of the earth,” Steffens told the Observer in a previous interview.

Frederick “Toots” Hibbert was born in May Pen, Clarendon, on December 8, 1942. He rose to prominence in the local music industry having formed the group Toots and the Maytals in 1961. He became a household name having won the Jamaica Festival Song Competition in its inaugural year, 1963, with the entry Bam Bam. He would repeat this win in 1969 with Sweet and Dandy, and in 1972 with Pomps & Pride. He was also a finalist in the 2020 version of the competition, a few weeks before he died at the University Hospital of the West Indies on September 11 last year at age 77.

Last Wednesday the nominations committee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced 16 acts to be considered for inclusion this year. The nominees are Mary J Blige, Kate Bush, Devo, Foo Fighters, The Go-Go's, Iron Maiden, Jay-Z, Chaka Khan, Carole King, Fela Kuti, LL Cool J, New York Dolls, Rage Against the Machine, Todd Rundgren, Tina Turner, and Dionne Warwick.


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