The music of legend Toots Hibbert rang out over the local Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ) on Sunday, the day he was interred at National Heroes' Park in Kingston.
The station aired a two-hour tribute produced by the culture and entertainment ministry, helmed by Olivia “Babsy Grange and featuring performances by some of the country's top acts, anecdotes from friends and close associates of the late pioneer, as well as pearls of wisdom and video vignettes of live performances by the man himself.
Toots: Tribute to an Icon was guided by recording ariste Ce'Cile, and showcased the depth of the impact that Hibbert had on the local and international music landscape.
Among those giving testimonials the artiste who close friends called Niah were Marley brothers Ziggy, Stephen and Julian, who spoke of his work during the burgeoning years of the music industry which continued up until his passing. The sons of reggae King Bob Marley described Hibbert as the soul of the music coming out of Jamaica, which served as an inspiration.
Tributes also came from head of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association Ewan Simpson, Maxi Priest, Tony Rebel, Anthony “Chips” Richards, Ken Boothe, and rock artistes Zak Starkey and Shhh Jason Fine of Rolling Stone magazine who called him “not only one of the great reggae singers, but also one of the great soul singers”. For producer Gussie Clarke, “Toots was one of the most multi-talented, energetic performers Jamaica has ever had”. International artiste Willie Nelson was also among those paying tribute.
Daughter Jenieve Bailey noted that to the world her late father was an icon, musical genius, songwriter, awesome performer, friend, family man and a patriot, but for her he was simply daddy, before she launched into her musical tribute which included a gospel take on his popular Monkey Man and Spiritual Healing. Leiba Hibbert, another daughter, also paid tribute in song to her father.
The musical tributes kicked off with the soulful Gramps Morgan of Morgan Heritage fame. Jovanni Williams teased the strings of his violin to produce the great melodies of Pomps and Pride as well as 54-46. Leroy Sibbles evoked the spirit of JAMAL when he performed Into the Light, which was the theme song of the literacy initiative from the 1970s and 80s. Richie Stephens, One Third and Papa Michigan also performed tributes.
Past winners of local talent competion Digicel Rising Stars Christopher Martin and Romain Virgo also delivered their favourites from the Hibbert catalogue, with Sweet and Dandy and Higher and Higher, respectively. Reggae Queen, meanwhile, presented Never Grow Old in her own inimitable way.
The list of performances continued with Ernie Ranglin, and Inner Circle who teamed with Mykal Rose for a mash-up of Pressure Drop and Monkey Man. With the benefit of technology Sherita Lewis shared the stage and vocals with Hibbert on Dreams to bring the television special to a close.
Hibbert died at the University Hospital of the West Indies on September 11. One month ago his burial at the Dovecot Memorial Park in St Catherine had to be aborted due to a missing burial order, a legal requirement for interment.
The Government, however, intervened and allowed for Hibbert to be interred at National Heroes' Park in the area designated for cultural icons.
Sister Carol does songs like Midst of The Darkest Night to the beat of Bangarang; Black Man Time (Better Must Come) and Music Nice (Let me go Girl). The album also includes songs done to music produced for The Wailers by Lee “Scratch” Perry.
She began work on the album in 2007 in New York with Glen Adams, the legendary organist who played on the original tracks. He died in Kingston in December 2010, shortly after the sessions were completed.
“All the songs were recorded at the Landmark Studio in Brooklyn, New York, around 2007-2010. Not only a whole lot of fun but I was exposed to a lot of the history of our music and learnt much about the business aspect as well via Glen Adams,” Sister Carol told the Jamaica Observer.
Adams was a member of The Hippy Boys and The Upsetters, house bands which recorded for Lee and Perry during the early 1970s. Bassist Aston “Family Man” Barrett, his brother and drummer Carlton Barrett and guitarist Alva “Reggie” Lewis were his colleagues.
Their cutting-edge sounds were the perfect backdrop for The Wailers on songs like Duppy Conqueror and Mr Brown. Adams also played on Lester Sterling's Bangarang and songs by The Uniques.
Because of her background on sound systems in New York, Sister Carol (born Carol East) had a feel for the rhythms on Opportunity heading into the project.
“Being a reggae woman, yes I was familiar with all the tracks. They were all hit songs; big songs like Duppy Conqueror, Soul Rebel, Love And Devotion, Bangarang, Better Must Come, Mr Brown and more,” she said.
The songs Adams, the Barretts and Lewis played on set the pace for Lee's success in the mid-1970s. His Striker label rolled out hit songs by Johnny Clarke ( None Shall Escape The Judgement, Rock With me Baby); Cornel Campbell ( The Gorgon) and Horace Andy ( Zion Gate).
The thanksgiving service for Bunny “Striker” Lee will be held at Roman's Funeral Chapel on Dunrobin Avenue on Saturday. Interment is slated for the Dovecot Memorial Park in St Catherine the following day.
The comeback album from Winston “Niney” Holness is scheduled for release in early 2021. He told the Jamaica Observer recently that final touches on the yet-titled project was stalled by the coronavirus.
“Mi have at least three people interested in putting it out, but wi naah tek nuh chance. Wi naah risk nuthin,” said Holness.
The producer announced plans for a return to singing early last year, after experiencing indifferent results from another attempt at producing music in Jamaica. Holness said he was dis-satisfied with the artistes he was recording at his Observer Soundbox Studio in Kingston.
One of the songs he worked on for the self-produced album is Thank You, which was done with drummer Sly Dunbar, keyboardist Robbie Lyn and bassist Flabba Holt. Follow-up sessions took place early this year with Holt and guitarist Dalton Browne.
Holness reckons the album will have 14 songs including a cover of Bob Marley's Three Little Birds.
Though he is recognised among reggae's great producers, the Montego Bay-born Holness (real name George Boswell) made his name as an artiste with the raucous Blood And Fire which was a hit in the United Kingdom in 1971. Two years later, he began churning out hit songs as a producer for his Observer label with Dennis Brown ( Cassandra, Westbound Train) and Ken Boothe ( Silver Words).
Holness went on to produce hits by Gregory Isaacs ( Slavemaster), Sugar Minott ( Lover's Race) and Third World ( Roots With Quality).