REGGAE artiste Warrior King remembers meeting Michael "Ibo" Cooper in the late 1990s. He said the late musician, composer, and educator became a father figure to him and was always willing to provide him with valuable advice and guidance.
"The first time I met Ibo was when I was an up-and-coming artiste. He always encouraged me to be disciplined and professional in whatever I did. He said the reggae music industry lacked discipline and professionalism," Warrior King shared in an interview with the Jamaica Observer on Wednesday shortly after he performed at the JaRIA Reggae Wednesdays JAMZ held at Karl Hendrickson Auditorium on the grounds of Jamaica College.
Warrior King, alongside a long list of acts including Big Youth, Inner Circle Family, Third World, Carlene Davis, Kumar Fyah, Mary Isaacs, Levy's Heritage, Tony Rebel, Ras-I, and the Edna Manley College Band, all paid tribute in song to the respected Cooper who passed away on October 12 following a brief illness.
Said Warrior King, "For several years I could not travel to the United States, and when I called upon Ibo he wrote a letter to the embassy and bam, bam, I got back the visa in July this year â€“ so you should know the respect that I have for this man. Mi deh ya because he was like a father to me." Karl Hendrickson Auditorium was packed to capacity with several persons who came out to celebrate the life and works of Cooper. Among those in attendance were several members from the entertainment fraternity as well as members of the diplomatic and business arenas. There wasn't a sad face seen, as people danced and sang along to songs by their favourite acts. Nadine Sutherland, who performed a creditable rendition of Bob Marley's Rasta Man Chant, shared her fondest memory of Cooper. "There's just too much, and I do love Ibo. I have a lot of memories of him but one thing I can tell you, he always encouraged me. He's simply one of the best," said Sutherland. "Look at the turnout here tonight. It's incredible! And you can see that people appreciated him." Veteran entertainer and Rebel Salute organiser Tony Rebel recalled several occasions he spent having discussions with Cooper about music and life. "A nuff time me and Ibo deh pon di phone a reason bout music and Rasta livity. He was the one who introduced me to the band C-Sharpe while they were at Edna Manley College studying. He said to me, 'These youths are going to be big,' and he convinced me to bring them with me to Europe when I went on tour. He was the one who also introduced me to Swade, and I got a hit song out of Swade. There's just so many memories of Ibo," Tony Rebel said. Swade, a then-unknown singer, teamed up with Tony Rebel on the song Just Friends, which became a massive hit and topped the charts locally and in New York in 2001. "They said he [Ibo] asked for me to be here before he died s'o whether he asked or not, I would've still been here. I didnt want to sing any sad songs, I just wanted to be happy and do a good performance," Tony Rebel confided. There were also several recorded tributes from members of the entertainment fraternity who were not in attendance. Among them were musician Lloyd Parkes, industry veteran Copeland Forbes, Wayne "Native" Jobson and managing director for Katalys Crew, Paul Barclay, among others. Cooper's grandsons Aaron and Adam, sons of the late disc jock and music producer Arif Cooper, also shared their experiences with Ibo.
"There are so many fond moments to choose from. He used to come and support my football games, and one of the best pieces of advice that he gave me was to: 'Be true to yourself in whatever you are doing' and that, 'If you love it, do it to the best of your ability,' " said Aaron. Said Adam, "I am not surprised at the turnout here tonight because my grandfather was very influential. The first time that I realised that he was a famous person was when we were at a party and he was talking to a lot of people. He has a wealth of knowledge and is always willing to share." Michael "Ibo" Cooper, a former member of the band Inner Circle, was laid to rest on Thursday. The icon's "nine night" was held at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts and also saw several members of the fraternity paying tribute to Cooper, a founding member of Third World.