Jimmy Tucker

AS a child prodigy, Jimmy Tucker became a household name doing patriotic songs which instilled national pride. The 79-year-old said he still feels the same sense of nostalgia as Jamaica approaches its 60th Independence anniversary on August 6.

“There is a national pride to us. We have come a far way... and we have more ground to cover; we must not shy away from it. We must ensure we have a proper graceful understanding of who we are as a people... We have a great footstep to make going forward,” the tenor told the Jamaica Observer from his United States base.

Tucker was one of 10 recipients of the venerable Musgrave Medal Award. He received a Silver Medal and was lauded as Jamaica's first singing sensation. The virtual occasion was held recently.

He said he was honoured by the acknowledgement.

“I give thanks for this. It is good when you've gained a recognition that stands well,” he said.

Tommy Cowan, impresario, said Tucker was deserving of the honour, but could have gotten a gold.

“He should have gotten a gold Musgrave Award. As far as I'm concerned, he's one of the foundation our music,” he said.

“Before they started making records, Jimmy Tucker used to actually go to the radio stations and sing from the radio station on the microphone there. He used to attend the Lynhurst Methodist Church and he was the 'Boy Wonder', and did this famous version of the Lord's Prayer... He was Jamaica's first singing star... He was considered as a patriot. He did a lot of patriotic songs. He shared the stage with Nat King Cole, and many of the greats heard him and thought this was the next big thing as a black man. He was also a Christian and had strong personal views on race and politics. He's the voice of the national anthem,” Cowan added.

Tucker emerged in the 1940s from Trench Town in Kingston from an ultra-talented family. He is uncle to former child star-cum-preacher Junior Tucker and singer Sharon Tucker.

He is also uncle to Marlon Tucker, Jamaica's most successful cricket captain.

During the 1950s, Jimmy Tucker performed in clubs, schools and churches. It was during these years that he performed music written by Clyde Hoyte, including Have Faith and Sweet as a Dream.

In addition to Tucker, other recipients of Musgrave awards in the arts and literature categories were: violinist and music educator Steven Woodham (gold); writer Dr Ishion Hutchinson (gold); poet Professor Shara McCallum (silver); and author Veronica Blake Carnegie and sculptor Fitzroy Russell (bronze).

This year's awardees for science were: Professor Mona Webber (gold); Professor Mark Harris (silver); and Hawthorne Watson (bronze). The Musgrave Youth Award goes to Sujae Boswell.

The Musgrave Medal is one of the oldest awards of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. It is awarded annually in recognition of achievements in art, science, and literature. Originally conceived in 1889, it is named in memory of Sir Anthony Musgrave, founder of the institute and the former governor of Jamaica.

No awards were handed out last year due to the current novel coronavirus pandemic.

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

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