Toots stayed true to rootsThursday, October 01, 2020
BY BRIAN BONITTO
CABEL “Jeffrey” Stephenson, global manager/executive assistant for Toots Hibbert, is lauding the decision to inter the reggae pioneer in Clarendon. He believes the spin-offs could be beneficial to the rural parish.
'Nyah' never forgot his roots. Clarendon was very important to him. Some of his happiest moments was when he was leaving the studio and say he would be going to Treadlight to see his family early the next morning. He would not be back until late in the afternoon, so there would be no need to be at studio early,” Stephenson told the Jamaica Observer.
“He loved his family and his community. He had a sister he spoke of regularly, “Miss Birdie”...He was a true Clarendonian,” Stephenson continued.
Hibbert, frontman of Toots and the Maytals, hailed from the Treadlight district is Clarendon.
Stephenson, who met Hibbert in the 1990s, said the singer's final resting place should be one where his legacy is kept alive.
“I think where ever he is laid, a shrine or mausoleum, it should become a sacred cultural park. A place that could house a museum, theatre and buy Toots merchandise. Families and foreigners could visit and you hear Toots's music 24 hour,” he said. “Outside of Jamaica shores, Toots is huge. He is a global figure. He has rubbed shoulders with the who's who of music, the Mick Jaggers, the Willie Nelsons, the Bonnie Raitts, and he stayed humble.”
Clarendon — located on the south of the island — has produced several outstanding citizens, including: deejays Dennis Alcapone and Derrick Morgan; singers Millie Small, Freddie McGregor, Barrington Levy, Cocoa Tea, Levi Roots, Boney M's Liz Mitchell, and OMI. Davina Bennett, third-placed finisher in Miss Universe 2017, poet Linton Kwesi Johnson and writer Claude McKay, also hailed from Clarendon.
On Monday, Hibbert's daughter, gospel singer Jenieve Bailey, announced that her dad would be buried in Clarendon. A date was, however, not given.
Hibbert died at the University Hospital of the West Indies in St Andrew on the evening of Friday, September 11, due to complications caused by COVID-19. He was 77.
He was active up to August of this year as he was one of the 10 finalists in this year's Jamaica Festival Song Competition — a contest he won on three previous occasions with the songs Bam Bam (1966), Sweet And Dandy (1969), and Pomps And Pride (1972). He also released his latest album, Got To Be Tough, on August 28.
His other popular songs include Monkey Man, 54-46, Pressure Drop, and Country Road.
Formed in the 1960s, Toots and the Maytals helped popularise reggae music. The group's 1968 single Do The Reggay was the first song to use the word 'reggae' – naming the genre and introducing it to a global audience.
In 2005 the group won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album with True Love. Seven years later, Hibbert was awarded an Order of Distinction for his contribution to Jamaica's music industry.
In December 2019 he received a Jamaica Observer Entertainment Award for his efforts in taking reggae to a global audience.