JAMAICA Pegasus hotel's Talk of the Town was the ideal space for a cocktail reception honouring the affable Prudence Simpson, director of sales, who was bidding farewell after 23 years of sterling service.
The occasion, held on December 24, was hosted by long-standing guest and veteran producer Winston “Niney” Holness. The guests comprised close friends, colleagues, and music insiders.
Holness lauded Simpson for her professionalism and patience which struck a chord with him.
“What keeps me coming here is Miss Prudence. She knows how to deal with people. She knows how to handle people. My son, Little Winston, is autistic. I [have] never see him comfortable with anyone like Miss Prudence,” said Holness to the applause of the specially invited guests, including former sprinter-cum-producer Usain Bolt.
In true character, Simpson was gracious in her presentation.
“I came every single day to do the best job I could. And, if it wasn't done to satisfaction, I'd do it again,” she said.
“Niney has been a long-standing guest of the Jamaica Pegasus. We've developed a really strong friendship, and when he heard I was retiring, he said, 'Paul Burke and I will be throwing a party, who you want there?' ... So those of you who are here, I sent a list of 20-25 names, so those of you who are here tonight, thank you. I know 250,000 people I could have had, but you came because you're special to me. You have supported my journey and it feels good,” she continued.
Niney Holness, who gained his nickname, Niney, after losing a thumb in a workshop accident, is a key figure in Jamaica's musical history.
As a producer, he turned teenaged singer Dennis Brown into a bonafide star with songs, including Cassandra, Africa, No More Shall I Roam, and Westbound Train. He also produced Silver Words by Ken Boothe.
Holness, whose given name is George Boswell, started out as a singer in the 1960s, and had a big British hit with Blood and Fire in 1970. He gave up his singing career during that period and launched into production with the Observer label.
His catalogue, which includes early songs by Junior Delgado and Michael Rose, is among the most impressive in roots-reggae.