Sanchez (right) receiving a Music Icon Award from Prime Minister Andrew Holness at the National Stadium in St Andrew on Saturday.

Two of Jamaica's premier singers — Sanchez and Derrick Morgan — were the centre of attention at Jamaica's Diamond Jubilee celebrations on August 6. They received Music Icon awards for their contribution to the island's music.

Vuvuzelas, whistles, screams and even pot covers could be heard across the National Stadium in St Andrew, as the citations were read for the recipients who were conferred with their honours by Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports Olivia "Babsy" Grange.

According to Grange, she and her team have made it a duty to acknowledge musical greats while they are alive.

"We have to honour our great people. We have to let them know that we appreciate their contribution in making this little nation such a powerful nation, where although we're small; a little dot on the map—and although we're less than three million people, we have impacted the world," she told the Jamaica Observer.

In his acceptance speech, Morgan, who is visually impaired, said the recognition resonates with him after six decades in the music industry.

"This is the greatest thing that ever happened to me at the age of 82 years old. I was waiting for this for a long time and now it comes," he said, before launching into Forward March (We're Independent) and The Conqueror.

Morgan was conferred with the Order of Distinction from the Government in 2001.

As for Sanchez, whose given name is Kevin Jackson, this is the most notable recognition he has received from his country.

"It's my greatest honour yet; my greatest presentation yet. I found out about it about three weeks ago and it brought tears to my eyes because it's long-awaited. I do deserve this," he told the Observer.

"I want to be an ambassador for the country... I wanted to add that during my performance, the acoustics were bouncing all over the place which affected the sound. There should've been a stage monitor or something — but I just wanted to point that out to my fans," he said.

Sanchez treated the thousands of screaming patrons to a cameo set consisting of Praise Him and I Love You Lord For Your Mercy Never Fails Me.

The Grand Gala celebrations were held under the theme 'Reigniting a Nation For Greatness'. It provided an A-1 experience for the patriots who turned out.

Decked in different shades of black, green and gold, the momentum started to build much earlier than the 6:00 pm start time, and when things finally kicked off — it was pandemonium.

Miss World 2019/2020 Toni-Ann Singh led with a rendition of the National Anthem, as members of the Jamaica Defence (JDF) hoisted the flag. She had a second appearance, delivering an emotional rendition of Jimmy Cliff's Many Rivers To Cross.

One of the night's key points was a 300-drone display which lit up the sky as they formed into cultural icons including Louise Bennett-Coverley, Bob Marley, Usain Bolt, as well as the Coat of Arms, ackee (the National Fruit) and the Hummingbird (the National Bird).

Glacia Robinson, Sister Patt, Kukudoo, Barrington Levy, Laa Lee and Teejay had the crowd on its feet. Even Holness and Grange offered their version of the popular Leggo Di Bird dance.

There were other aspects of entertainment which showed the versatility of Jamaica, including a mini fashion show, dance pieces, and a bike display. The cherry on top was the colourful fireworks display.

Grange could not put a figure on the budget for the spectacular production.

"I would not be able to say the full budget because the contribution to make this happen was done in cash and kind," she said. "I'm very pleased. I think it was a good night. I think everybody enjoyed themselves, and it was a grand affair for our 60th... We fused technology with our traditional culture and made it a very special night on a very special occasion."

Sanchez performing at the Grand Gala held at the National Stadium in St Andrew on Saturday. (Photos: Karl Mclarty)
Ska legend Derrick Morgan (centre) addressing the audience at the National Stadium in St Andrew after receiving a Music Icon Award from Prime Minister Andrew Holness (left) on Saturday. Looking on (at right) is Entertainment and Culture Minister Olivia "Babsy" Grange.
Kukudoo
Glacia Robinson
Toni-Ann Singh, Miss World 2019
Dancers, clad in white, performing at Saturday's Grand Gala.
Three hundred drones light up the evening's sky in the form Jamaica's coat of arms during the Grand Gala.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness doing his version of the popular dance move Leggo Di Bird.
People in the audience wave miniature Jamaica flags as the enjoy they entertainment at Saturday's Grand Gala at the National Stadium in St Andrew. (Photos: Karl Mclarty)
The 300-drones take the shape of the National Bird, the Hummingbird.
BY KEDIESHA PERRY Observer writer

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