Kingston honouring Deniece Williams with Key to the City
The Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) unanimously approved a resolution on Tuesday to confer the Key to the City of Kingston on American R&B singer Deniece Williams who will be headlining the Mother’s Day show, Red Rose for Gregory, on Sunday, May 14 at Hope Gardens.
The resolution was moved by Councillor Donovan Samuels (Jamaica Labour Party [JLP], Tivoli Gardens) and seconded by Councillor Kelvin Clarke (JLP, Kintyre) at the KSAMC’s monthly meeting, which learnt that that the highly rated singer wants to end her international career in Jamaica’s capital city.
The honour will be bestowed on Williams “in recognition of her sterling, awesome, and iconic career in music over these many years, which have positively influenced adoring fans across the world including Jamaicans who continue to enjoy her enduring legacy”.
Former Mayor of Kingston Desmond McKenzie said Tuesday that he could not recall whether the local government body had ever conferred the honour to an American R&B artiste, although he recalled honouring a number of sportsmen and women with city medals.
Councillor Eugene Kelly (People’s National Party [PNP], Whitfield Town Division) and Councillor Samuels noted the bipartisan support for the resolution, while Councillor Vernon McLeod (JLP, Havendale Division) produced two vinyl albums as evidence that Williams has always been his favourite as a R&B music fan.
A soprano lyricist born June 3, 1951 as Deniece Chandler in Gary, Indiana, Williams has been described as “one of the great soul voices” of her era.
Credited with a four-octave vocal range she has won seven Grammy Awards as she shifted between R&B and Gospel.
Williams started as a background singer for Stevie Wonder, Minnie Ripperton, Syreeta, Esther Phillips, and Roberta Flack before embarking on her own solo career in 1976.
She is best known for songs such as Free, Silly, It’s Gonna Take A Miracle, as well as Billboard Hot 100 Number One singles Let’s Hear It For The Boy and Too Much, Too Little, Too Late (with Johnny Mathis).
Since its inception, Red Rose For Gregory — staged to honour the memory of reggae crooner Gregory Isaacs and maintain the foundation in his name — has been held on Valentine’s Day. But this year there were multiple requests from loyal fans for a mother’s tribute instead, that would deliver the same elegance and class of a Valentine’s Day show.
Isaacs’ relatives had said that they wished to celebrate his musical legacy, as well as create an event which could become an integral event on Jamaica’s tourism entertainment calendar, engaging visitors from across the world as well as Jamaicans.