Delbert “Ngoni” McKay

The Jamaica Observer's Entertainment Desk continues its look at the major stories which helped to shape 2021.

DELBERT “Ngoni” McKay, singer and founding member of British-based reggae group Misty in Roots, died at his West Midlands home on October 1. He was 67.

His wife, Sham McKay said the singer, who was ailing for some time, had been diagnosed with lung cancer.

“He was family-oriented. He never deal wid nuh war; jus' peace, love, and unity. He was a hard-core Rastaman, who tried to do what was right. We went to Ethiopia and got our blessings, so that kept us going for a long time,” she told the Jamaica Observer.

Hailing from Braeton in St Catherine, McKay migrated to the United Kingdom in the mid-1960s. He was one of the vocalists for Misty in Roots, a roots-reggae band formed in Southall, London, in the mid-1970s. The group's first album was 1979's Live at the Counter Eurovision, a record full of Rastafarian songs which helped to bring roots reggae to a white audience.

During its early stage, the band was a collective with five lead singers and various musicians, though by the time of the second album, the band had slimmed down to just three members. Along with Steel Pulse, Aswad, Matumbi, Cimarons and Black Slate, Misty in Roots was one of the most popular British reggae bands of the late 1970s.

Misty in Roots's albums include: Misty Over Sweden (1979); Wise and Foolish (1981); Earth (1983); and Musi-O-Tunya (1985).

According to McKay, her husband had stepped away from the group for awhile.

“His favourite songs were Food Clothes and Shelter, Jah Protect I & I, Poor and Needy, and Save A Thought for the Children,” she said.

In addition to his wife Sham, Delbert McKay is survived by six children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

BY BRIAN BONITTO Associate Editor — Auto & Entertainment bonittob@jamaicaobserver.com

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