Entertainment

Entertainers pleased with PM's medal

Friday, April 27, 2018

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Cheers rang out across the lawns of Jamaica House in St Andrew on Wednesday as the two recipients of the Prime Minister's Medal of Appreciation in the area of entertainment ascended the stairs to receive their insignia.

Reggae toaster Dennis Alcapone and international reggae marketer Anthony “Chips” Richards were among the 65 Jamaican individuals and organisations who were recognised by the Prime Minister Andrew Holness for their contribution to the growth and development of various facets of Jamaican life.

Both men were visibly elated to have been recognised by their country for their decades of work in performing and promoting Jamaican music, entertainment and culture for a local and global audience.

“I feel over the moon,” is how Dennis Alcapone described it. “ Can't tell you what it felt like to get that call and hear, 'we're calling from the prime minister's office'. This is a really powerful award and I am so honoured to receive it,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

For Richards, it was an overhwelming feeling to be told he would be receiving the medal of appreciation.

“It feels like at last someone is recognising the part I played in spreading Jamaican music and culture all around the world. It has been a long road and I now feel like I am being given my just rewards,” Richards told the Observer.

Unlike Dennis Alcapone, Richards is not as well known outside of music circles, but nevertheless played a vital role in introducing Jamaican music to a wider audience in the UK as well as markets such as Asia and Africa in the early 1970s — through his work initially with Trojan Records and then on his own.

“I've always been around music and hung out at the record shops owned by my friends in London in the 1960s. Once I got into the business, my aim was to get the music on radio. But we faced obstacles, and it was not until I threatened to demonstrate outside the BBC that the security allowed me inside the building and a meeting with one of the executive producers. That meeting led to a number of successes, but it was not overnight, as I had to break down the barries. However, over time I started getting airplay for the music which hit the charts, including Ken Boothe's Everything I Own.”

These days Richards spreads his time among homes in London, Jamaica and Sao Luis in Brazil.

Dennis Alcapone was also pleased to be recognised alongside Richards, noting that they met in London in 1973, and underscored his work in promoting reggae in that market.

He too has had a long journey in the music starting with El Paso Hi-Fi in 1969.

“I remember listening to Ken Tone Sound with the DJ Pampadoo. They were at a dance near where I lived on Waltham Park Road and that night something was triggered in me. It was like an art watching him move from the record box to the turntables, and listening to him on the mic I was captured,” he recalled.

“It was a long and winding road from there to here. I have been all over the world with the music. However, my most emotional performance was a few years ago when Michael Barnett invited me home to perform on Startime. It was a dream come true. It was a joy to perform at home in front of many of my childhood friends. I will never forget that experience,” said Dennis Alcapone.

Wednesday's ceremony on the lawns of Jamaica House also saw performances from gospel act Jermaine Edwards, The Ashe Company, The Jamaican Folk Singers, Dance Theatre Xaymaca, and the trio One Third.

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