Toots spreads Yuletide cheer

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Monday, December 17, 2018

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MANY Jamaicans associate Toots and The Maytals with the annual Festival Song Contest rather than Christmas, but the legendary singer and his group have been giving Yuletide cheer for over 50 years.

Last year Toots went into the recording studio with guitarist Lamont Savory to cut It's Christmas, a bluesy number that calls for benevolence during the season.

“Christmas is nice, for those who can afford it,” Toots joked during an interview with the Jamaica Observer. “But seriously, it's a nice time of the year an', even if yuh don't believe inna it, it's a great time an' people mus' help one another.”

Though it was done in 2017, It's Christmas was recently released. Toots played most of the instruments on the song.

He and The Maytals did several Christmas songs in the 1960s and early 1970s when they worked with Byron Lee at Federal Records. One of them was Happy Christmas (The Christmas Song) which was released as part of Trojan Records' Christmas Box Set; their Christmas Song, produced by Lee, was released in 1972.

Born Frederick Hibbert in Clarendon, Toots and his band maintained their reputation for extensive touring this year by spending 16 weeks between Europe and the United States.

In January he heads to the US again for dates in Florida; Virginia; Washington, DC; and New York.

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