Despite some parking issues, Sunday’s staging of The Art of Reggae Music Festival delivered the goods.
With high-powered performances from the likes of Big Ship’s captain Freddie McGregor, Marcia Griffiths, Wayne Wonder, Singing Melody, and Chino McGregor. The event saw a huge turnout of patrons.
“The Art of Reggae Music Festival was basically to bring back the legends on stage here in South Florida. We wanted to put together a show with artistes who complement each other in our genre,” Alanzo “DJ Stretch” Miller, co-promoter and conceptualiser, told the Jamaica Observer backstage at the event.
Held at Vizcaya Park in Miramar, Florida, this was the event’s first staging. Miller said it will become an annual one on South Florida’s entertainment calendar.
“There were some challenges but when you are passionate about something and you really want to get it done, there’s nothing that will stand in your way to get it done. It will be an annual event and we’re going to a bigger and better venue next year,” he said.
Entertainment and Culture Minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange, who was in attendance at the event, said she was pleased with the staging. She was also upbeat about the activities surrounding Jamaica’s 60th anniversary celebrations that will be taking place in different diasporas as well as in Jamaica.
“Jamaica is a young country and it has been a journey. Through all the struggles we’ve been through to getting our Independence 60 years ago, we’ve accomplished a lot. We have a music genre that has penetrated all corners of the world but yet the journey continues. Jamaicans in the diaspora continue to love and contribute to Jamaicans a yard. We will be having a number of events to commemorate the 60th year of Independence including the Grand Gala, Street Parade and Float Parade,” Minister Grange shared.
Singer Wayne Wonder — who delivered a workmanlike performance — with hits such as Saddest Day, Bonafide Love, No Letting Go and Joyride, shared the highlight performing on stage.
“When I’m on stage, I wanna sing, have fun and hope the people feel that same energy and joyfulness. I’m performing on the same stage with Freddie McGregor, who was a mentor of mine, and Auntie Marcia Griffiths. Being on the same bill with my founders is amazing,” said Wayne Wonder.
Said Marcia Griffiths, “The highlight for me was just being live and direct with my audience. Sending positive energy to the audience and they’re sending it all back.”
Griffiths said she has a new single coming out on Beres Hammond’s Harmony House label and a new album on Tads Records.
Her hit list included the popular Electric Boogie, Stepping Outta Babylon and I Shall Sing.
With songs including From Mawning (Never Change) and Pon Yuh Head, Chino McGregor represented himself well.
“This is a well-balanced event and it was done for a good cause. I think it’s a good move. I decided to do this event because of its mission statement. Young youths putting on this event and line-up of this magnitude also helped in my decision to be a part of it,” he said.
He and his brother, producer Stephen McGregor, are working on a collaborative album titled Great Minds think Alike which is to be released later this year.
Say What and Want You Back were some of the songs Singing Melody used to entertain his fans and which were well received.
“For me, the highlight was that I kept the message in what I intended to accomplish, which is to keep God in all you say and do. And that’s what I accomplished, but most of all, love. I am honoured to be at this event,” said Singing Melody.Freddie McGregor — who reeled off a hit list of songs — was on home turf as he glided into the arms of his adoring fans. With So I’ll Wait for You, Big Ship, Stop Loving You and Artibella among his presentation, McGregor had fun on stage.
“There were many highlights for me. Seeing Wayne, sister Marcia and all in all it represents the name of the show, The Art of Reggae,” said McGregor.
His new album Breath of Fresh Air is expected in two months.