American R&B singer Deniece Williams received her 'roses' at Sunday's staging of Red Rose for Gregory at Hope Gardens in St Andrew.
After a set that was shy of an hour, the international sensation was re-invited to the stage by emcee Richie B to be presented with a custom perfume courtesy of Kingston-based Prince D'Bruce Perfumery. The bottle bore the colours of the Jamaican flag and, by all indications, the smell was divine as the singer — who fought back tears — took a whiff as hundreds of adoring fans cheered on.
The highlight of the evening was however the presentation of the Key to the City of Kingston by Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams in the presence of CEO of the Kingston & St Andrew Municipal Corporation Robert Hill, Councillor Donovan Samuels (Jamaica Labour Party [JLP], Tivoli Gardens), Councillor Kelvin Clarke (JLP, Kintyre) and Audrey Smith- Facey (People's National Party [PNP] Payne Land).
In her acceptance speech, Williams expressed gratitude at the warmth she has consistently been met with by her Jamaican fan base.
"I don't have the words. Just know that I love you guys, and you've always been a big part of my career and a big part of my life, and I just wanna say thank you so much… In our small minds, we think of just home, but when you open your arms it was unexpected, and I love you so much. May God continue to bless you above whatever you thought He would do for you as He's done for me," she said. By this time the tears had won.
To top off the presentations, veteran music insider Copeland Forbes, OD, presented her with a copy of his latest book Reggae My Life Is.
Queen of reggae Marcia Griffiths, who has known Williams for years, also presented a gift basket.
Much to the delight of patrons who travelled near and far to indulge in the live performances, seats were available to ward off periods of long standing. The venue, packed to capacity, was spotted with red and white apparel and most opted for elegant looks.
There were moments of heightened excitement, such as the performance of Kiss and Say Goodbye and Shining Star by The Manhattans, as well as their rendition of Gregory Isaacs' Night Nurse. They were preceded by JC Lodge, who apologised for being missing from the local music scene for a decade. It is safe to assume that music lovers accepted her apology as she gave her best shot at Someone Loves You Honey and the smash hit Telephone Love.
Reggae singer Etana also gave a strong set. Her piece was lined with accompaniment from a group of dancers who changed their costumes to coincide with each track she performed. Etana donned a sparkling lavender dress for the occasion.
She, too, was surprised with a gift basket for Mother's Day.
Long-time vocalist and bass player Lloyd Parks also received a plaque for his service to reggae music over the years.
Other acts were Robert Minott, Errol Dunkley, Hezron, Mary Isaacs, Ray Isaacs, and Khausion.
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