THE Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) has released the names of the recipients of it annual Honour Awards which is set for Sunday, February 28 to cap off the month-long celebrations of Reggae Month.
As is customary, the list of honorees represents a wide cross section of players in the local music fraternity including emerging and established performers, musicians and sound system operators, also media personalities, as well as behind the scenes personnel such as engineers and songwriters.
This year's lifetime achievement award will go to Owen Gray, the singer and songwriter who is referred to by many as Jamaica's first home-grown star. The 81-year-old, who currently lives in London, was one of the first artistes to record for the Sir Clement “Coxsone” Dodd's Downbeat label in 1959 and the first act to be produced by Chris Blackwell in 1960. His single Patricia was the first record ever released by Island Records, owned by Blackwell.
Celebrated musician and songwriter Harold Butler will be honoured with the award for his exceptional contribution to the reggae industry as a songwriter. He has penned music for the likes of Beres Hammond and Cynthia Schloss.
This year, three artistes have been selected to receive the Icon award. Jepther “Luciano” McClymoth, Ewart “U-Roy” Beckford and Phyllis Dillon will be recognised along with the Blues Busters, who are receiving the award for iconic duo/group. In the area of gospel music, George Banton and Change will be awarded. British reggae outfit Aswad is this year's honoree for its contribution to the industry as a band.
Stephen “Cat” Coore, a founding member of renowned reggae band Third World, and a respected cellist and guitarist will be awarded by JaRIA for his contribution to the reggae industry as an instrumentalist.
Engineers Shane Brown and Orville “Rorey” Baker will be recognised for their work in their particular field of endeavour, while in the category of producer, Leroy and Dave Heywood, also known as Mafia and Fluxy, and Handel Tucker will be recognised.
The sound system culture has always been integral to the development of the local music genres so this year two 'sounds' will be awarded for their impact on the music. Count Shelly Lloyd and the Coxsone Sound System will take the honours next month.
The role of the media in the development of the music has not been overlooked by JaRIA. This year, popular radio personality and dub poet Mutabaruka, along with music website Reggaeville, will be honoured. The organisers of the popular and long-running street dance Rae Town Sundays will be honoured this year in the category of promoter.
A number of this year's recipients are being honoured posthumously. Hornsman Ronald “Nambo” Robinson, who died in 2017, will be recognised for his extraordinary impact on the reggae industry through mentorship. Edward O'Sullivan Lee, better known as Bunny Lee, and Winston “Bopee” Bowen will both be recognised for their exceptional contribution to the reggae industry. Guitarist and vocalist Dalton Browne, who passed away late last year, will receive JaRIA's award for his contribution to the reggae industry as a musician. The late radio personality Tony Young will be recognised for his contribution to the development of the music .
The Gregory Isaacs Foundation continues its award which recognises a leading figure in the areas of dance, fashion, graphic design or a selector. The award this year will be presented to Orville “Bagga” Case for his work in album cover designs.
The awards for Breakthrough Artiste of the Year and Song of the Year are being put to a public vote and the results will be made known at the show on February 2, which will be a virtual showcase.
According to head of marketing for JaRIA, Coleen Douglas, the current pandemic has had at least one positive impact on this aspect of the annual Reggae Month observances.
“With no touring and performances we were able to get our committee to focus on this year's awards. We totally understand the impact of this loss of income on the industry but at least this year we can take a positive from the pandemic, as we were able to finalise our list of awardees way ahead of schedule compared to previous years,” she shared with the Jamaica Observer.