Toots Hibbert, Jimmy Cliff named among favourite singers
Keith Richards

British musician Keith Richards has named two Jamaicans — Toots Hibbert and Jimmy Cliff — among his favourite singers.

The singer and songwriter, who has achieved international fame as the co-founder, guitarist, secondary vocalist, and co-principal songwriter of the Rolling Stones, Richards recently named his top 10 favourite singers of all time and included the legendary, Grammy-winning reggae artistes in his compilation. Richards' decision was based on the acts he considers his favourite singers, as well as those he sees as the greatest in the industry.

In the blurb attached to Hibbert's selection, Richards referred to his start by singing church choir and gospel music due to his parents' backgrounds as ardent Seventh-day Adventist preachers. When the advent of reggae arrived, Hibbert ushered it in with gusto and produced songs that people couldn't help but dance to, characterised by his throaty growls that helped define a genre. He also made reference to the 1968 song Do the Reggay, which is said to have given the name to the internationally recognised genre of music out of Jamaica.

For Jimmy Cliff, the blurb noted that he was the only living musician who is the holder of the Order of Merit. It was also noted that not only is he a musical artist, he is also a film star, and cited his performance in 1972's The Harder They Come which Richards noted is credited as an important vehicle for popularising reggae around the world.

Jimmy Cliff won his Grammy in 1986, the second year the award was being presented to reggae artistes. He was recognised for the album Cliff Hanger. At that time the category was Best Reggae Recording. It was subsequently changed to Best Reggae Album in 1992.

Hibbert, who died on September 11, 2020 at the University Hospital of the West Indies in St Andrew after a brief illness, has two Grammy awards. He won his first in 2002 for the album True Love and repeated the feat posthumously in 2021 for the project Got To Be Tough.

­— Richard Johnson

Jimmy Cliff
Toots Hibbert

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