Trojan hails Young, Gifted and Black

Trojan hails Young, Gifted and Black

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
Observer senior writer

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

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TO celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bob Andy and Marcia Griffiths entering the British national chart with Young, Gifted And Black, Trojan Records has launched the younggiftedandblack2020.com website.

The site has been active since last Saturday. It invites fans to post examples of young black people who are excelling, a nod to the theme of the song which was originally recorded in 1958 by American singer Nina Simone as To be Young, Gifted And Black.

Andy and Griffiths' reggae version peaked at number five in the UK in 1970. Laurence Cane-Honeysett, a senior executive at Trojan Records, says the song was wildly popular in that country which had a growing black population.

“Its impact was profound, although this wasn't necessarily immediately apparent. It may surprise many now, given the song's lyrics, but it was hugely popular among people from a wide spectrum of backgrounds, crossing boundaries of colour or nationality,” Cane-Honeysett told the Jamaica Observer.

He noted that, “Prior to its release, reggae had been widely dismissed by the British national press as just a novelty, which would soon be forgotten outside of the Afro-Caribbean community at least. But Bob and Marcia's recording changed a lot of attitudes in that regard. It also opened the minds of a lot of white people to the struggles and successes of their black peers.”

Cane-Honeysett said Young, Gifted And Black, which was produced by Harry “Harry J” Johnson is still popular in the UK. Andy and Griffiths performed it there during the latter's 50th anniversary series in 2015.

Andy died March 27 in Kingston from pancreatic cancer at age 75. According to Cane-Honeysett, he had a profound impact on his ties to Jamaican music.

“From a personal perspective, quite simply, Bob Andy's music changed my life. I'd loved reggae since I was a kid, but after hearing his Song Book album, I became an absolute obsessive. He was one of, and in my own view, the greatest Jamaican singer-songwriter of his generation, and that's obviously saying something,” he said.


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