WATCH: Heartfelt send-off for Tabby Diamond
Family members of late reggae singer Donald 'Tabby Diamond' Shaw react as they view his body at a funeral at Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre on Friday. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Mourners poured into the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre in great numbers on Friday to celebrate the life of Donald 'Tabby Diamond' Shaw, the late lead singer of iconic reggae group Mighty Diamonds.

The two-and-a-half hour long service was a grand affair, with a number of Jamaica’s reggae ambassadors exalting the music stalwart in songs in a concert-like but sombre atmosphere.

Musical tributes were delivered by Judge Diamond, the lone surviving original member of Mighty Diamonds; Carlene Davis; Dominique Martin (granddaughter); Leroy Sibbles and granddaughter Empress States; Duane Stephenson and Dean Fraser; Peter Shaw (brother); Deh Deh Blacks from the Heptones; Bongo Herman; Jose Wales and granddaughter Tafari Rolle, who performed a wonderful rendition of the Mighty Diamonds' chart topper 'Have Mercy'.

Tributes in speech were done by former tour manager Copeland Forbes, Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams, goddaughter Keneisha Small, entertainment journalist and historian Sheila Moody; long-time acquaintance Tony Mac; sons and other close family members.

Shaw was shot and killed by gunmen on McKinley Crescent in Olympic Gardens on March 29. He was 67.

READ: Mighty Diamonds lead singer killed in drive-by shooting

On Friday, the hearse carrying the casket with the remains of the late singer arrived approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled 11:00 am start blaring the music of the Mighty Diamonds.

In the tributes, Shaw was hailed as a peaceful man who was not deserving of the violent death he received.

Forbes and Moody, who doubled as Mighty Diamonds' publicists from 1995, both chronicled their journey with the group over the decades.

Forbes highlighted a concert in the early stages of the group, in which they outlasted eggs and tomatoes on stage in England to win over a rowdy mob at the end of their performance.

Moody also shared an experience when Shaw was ill and she feared he would not have been able to perform at a show in the United States. She said that fear was allayed with a very professional Shaw hitting all the high notes during the performance.

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, Olivia 'Babsy' Grange noted that Shaw and the other members of the group, Judge and Fitzroy ‘Bunny Diamond’ Simpson, were from the western end of Kingston, the cradle of reggae music. She said the world has lost a musical icon.

"Tabby's untimely death was a real and sudden loss, not to Jamaica, but just to Jamaica's and reggae music's industry, but in fact to the world,” Grange said.

Simpson, who had been ailing for years, died two days after Shaw. He was buried last week.

"It was hard enough to lose so many of our musical icons to COVID-19. It was so hard to lose Bunny Diamond, but it was much harder to hear the loss of Tabby Diamond to gun violence, because his death was untimely and unnecessary," Grange said, while claiming that his voice was one of the smoothest and silkiest in the industry.

JOB NELSON , Observer Online writer

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