STEADY STARS, a full moon, clear skies and even the streetlights along Skyline Drive, Jacks Hill, co-operated to help make last Thursday’s International Reggae Day (IRD) Festival Media & Awards an outstanding affair.
These factors outside the control of the organisers of the event, Jamaica Arts Holdings (JAH), only added to a beautifully laid out reception area on the lawns beside the Ashanti Oasis Restaurant in the Hope Gardens, St. Andrew.
From the strip of red carpet on the grass, to the strips of coloured cloth which transformed an unremarkable gazebo to the rear of the reception area into a rainbow of hues, the International Reggae Day Media and Awards reception was a class affair.
The six awardees for the night were deserving of the first-class layout, as well as the large audience which turned out to the affair. Unfortunately, however, of the six only the last, music video director X, who was honoured as the IRD Video Vanguard, was present.
The absences were even more striking, considering that the Trinidadian-born X was the only non-Jamaican awardee.
Of the others, the IRD Media Awardee, Jeff ‘Free I’ Dixon, was killed on September 11, 1987, in the triple murder which also claimed founding Wailer Peter Tosh. The IRD Breakthrough Award went to Sean Paul, the Longevity Award went to The Mighty Diamonds, Marcia Griffiths won the Diva Award and the IRD Diamond Award went to producer Bobby Digital.
The endorsements of Jamaica Federation of Musicians president, Desi Young and State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Delano Franklyn, underscored the importance of the event and the brief profiles of the awardees emphasised their achievements. In part, the words were supported by video clips shown on large screen.
The youngsters learnt about The Mighty Diamonds that ; “in early 1976, the group was signed by Virgin Records for a recording deal which produced three classic Diamonds albums – Ice and Fire, Planet Earth and Deeper Roots .” Marcia Griffiths is “the only Jamaican female artiste to have scored hit songs in every decade, since her debut as a teenager in 1964” and Robert Dixon earned the name Bobby Digital when “he helped shape the computerised phase of Jamaican music at Jammy’s headquarters.”
There was an overview of Sean Paul’s career, as well as an insight into the travels of Free I, the ‘compere without compare’, from Jamaica to the USA, Uganda and back.
With Diamond Simpson, the young daughter of Diamonds member Bunny Simpson, saying eloquent apologies on behalf of the group, only X was able to give a personal response to the award.
The man who has done over 100 videos, for persons such as Usher, DMX , Alicia Keys and of course Sean Paul, for whose Gimme De Light and a “body of work significantly impacting the international promotion of Jamaican music and culture” was brief in his response.
“Respect every time – The West Indians who have gone abroad still remember. The children call themselves West Indians,” he said.
With the Groove Galore band on the stand there were performances by Kam-Au, Lymie Murray, Pam Hall, Kulcha Knox, Prezident Brown, Ernie Smith and Anthony B Mutabaruka‘s Blakk Muzik sound system provided the recorded music.