The 1st Reggae Academy Awards – A Celebration of Musical Excellence
Tarrus Riley and his song “She’s Royal” Receive Six Awards!
by M. Peggy Quattro
Photos Lance Watson/Reggae Academy
February 29, 2008 – Kingston, JA – Kingston, the center of the Reggae universe, was bubbling with excitement and activity during February’s Reggae Month celebrations. On every corner, the talk turned to what to do, where to go, who to see.But the high point came with the presentation of the first Reggae Academy Awards and show.
The National Indoor Sports Center was bustling on Sunday, Feb. 24, as the academy and music community came together to prepare for the evening’s event. At 7 P.M., the red carpet was filled with arriving celebrities and fans cheered on their favorites. Members of local and international media were present and there were smiles, hugs, and handshakes in the reception area as Reggae’s artists and professionals greeted the press and each other.
Nominees Shaggy, Cherine Anderson, Etana, Macka Diamond, Kris Kelli, and Danny Browne, presenters Nadine Sutherland, Tony Rebel, and reigning Miss Jamaica Universe Zara Redwood, and performers Diana King, Elephant Man, and Ce’Cile were among the stars at the pre-awards soirée.
As show time approached, the throng headed inside the arena. The large stage was a colorful blend of high tech and roots, with neon podiums and moveable graffiti-covered zinc fences. The beautiful and multi-talented Cherine Anderson sauntered on stage to open the show with her nominated, soulful and stirring “Kingston State of Mind.” Switching effortlessly between singing and Dancehall, the young star set the pace for the remainder of the presentation.
The award show dancers took the stage, soon joined by Shaggy, who tore into the nominated “Church Heathen.” Joined by Rik Rok, the dynamic duo delivered an engaging performance.
Host for the evening was comedian Owen “Blacka” Ellis, who kept a frenzied pace delivering comic quips and multiple wardrobe changes.
First award, delivered by Nadine Sutherland and Mikey Bennett, went to Tarrus Riley for “Breakthrough Reggae Artist.” This is the first of six awards this evening for the upcoming heartical singer.
Songstress Etana delivered a moving version of her nominated “Roots,” followed by her accepting the award for “Best Reggae Female Vocalist.” Next was Male Vocalist winner Tarrus Riley, who held up the hand of presenter Marcia Griffiths and declared, “She’s royal.”
Consistently outstanding in their delivery and performance, Morgan Heritage presented a stellar set that included “Down by the River.” When Tarrus Riley picked up award #3 for “Best Reggae Song” for “She’s Royal,” he announced, “There is no business like show business.” This was followed by his performance of the award-winning song, which included a parade of smiling, lovely ladies, diverse in age and appearance.
Speaking of royal, Queen Ifrica, daughter of Ska legend Derrick Morgan, looked resplendent in a beautiful red dress and head wrap, and performed her nominated hit “Below the Waist” to cheers and applause.
Best Producer went to the absent Stephen Marley, who also won “Best Reggae Album,” presented by the delightful Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee and Niney ‘the Observer’ Holness, who also gave a posthumous tribute to producer Joe Gibbs who passed away only days before the awards. The popular Demarco then delivered a moving version of his hit song “Fallen Soldier.”
The popular Assassin gave a strong performance, and in a unique production twist, walked across the stage to a bus bench where the lovely Ce’Cile was sitting, drawing her to the front of the stage where she delivered a singing/DJ version of “I’m Ready” on the Rocksteady riddim.
The lovely sister team of Brick and Lace looked surprised as they accepted the award for “Best Dancehall Vocal Duo/Group.” The smiling, teen-age producer sensation Stephen McGregor bounded on to the stage to accept his two awards for “Best Dancehall Compilation” and “Best Dancehall Riddim.”
A special Dancehall segment featured Stone Love who spun hits while Wayne Marshall, Harry Toddler, and Macka
Diamond gave energized performances. Elephant Man ‘the Energy God” gave an interesting performance dressed as Freddy Krueger and backed by the great award show dancers.
Superstar songstress Diana King gave one of the most memorable performances. The beautiful singer delivered a powerhouse presentation of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good.” It was great to see a few of the veteran artists invited to perform on stage.Unfortunately, there were not enough!
Winners are voted for by members of the Reggae Academy, except for the two Most Popular categories, which are voted for by the general public. The legendary King Jammy presented “Most Popular Song” to Tarrus Riley for “She’s Royal,” while Copeland Forbes presented “Most Popular Artist” to an absent Beenie Man.
The presentation continued with a joyous performance by legend Toots Hibbert who belted out the renowned “54-46 That’s my Number.” This was followed by Island Records founder Chris Blackwell receiving the Trailblazer Award from Minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange. Chris fondly remembered his first hits “Little Sheila” and “Boogie in My Bones,” and looked pleased and honored for the recognition.
Chris Blackwell then presented the Legend Award to Ska/Reggae/Jazz guitarist Ernie Ranglin. Chris recalled Ernie as being the arranger on Reggae’s first international hit, “My Boy Lollipop” by Millie Small, released on Blackwell’s Island label. In accepting his award, Ranglin thoughtfully recognized the artists and performers, the Reggae Academy, the media, and his wife.
The show continued with an exceptional acoustic guitar performance by Ziggy Marley. Flanked by a solo electric guitar and an elder percussionist, Ziggy sat with eyes closed and sang the upbeat and personal “Love is My Religion.” The audience was spellbound by the young Marley and he appeared relaxed and pleased with his performance.
Prime Minister Bruce Golding then stepped to the podium to present the final award of the evening. The Reggae Icon Award was presented to Robert Nesta Marley, known to the world as Bob Marley. To accept the award on his behalf was his wife, Rita Marley, who thanked Lloyd Stanbury and the Reggae Academy, as well as Chris Blackwell.
The show ended with a radiant and smiling Marcia Griffiths, who had the audience on their feet dancing to the “Electric Slide.” The after-show reunion on the floor of the arena was a joyous occasion as artists, winners, nominees, performers, musicians, dancers and industry professionals – past and present – joined the show’s producers, media, and family and friends to celebrate a historical moment in the course of Reggae music.
The production was a great first effort by the Reggae Academy and the Recording Industry Association Jamaica (RIAJam.) Congratulations to Lloyd Stanbury, Academy chairman; Josef Bogdanovich, executive producer of the award show; Clevie Browne, RIAJam chairman; Minister Grange and the Jamaican government; and all of the production teams, committees and crew for a wonderful show. Thank you for taking the initiative and effort to raise the professionalism in Reggae productions, and for recognizing talent for creative excellence, not record sales, chart positions or hype. Proceeds from the awards show will go to support Jamaican music industry development initiatives. (More photos in our Photo Album)
WINNERS FOR THE REGGAE ACADEMY AWARDS 2008
Best Reggae Song She’s Royal – Omar Riley (Songwriter’s Award)
Best Solo Male Reggae Vocal Performance She’s Royal – Tarrus Riley
Best Solo Female Reggae Vocal Roots – Etana
Best Reggae Album Mind Control – Stephen Marley
Best Instrumental Recording or Album Making Notes – Robbie Lyn
Best Solo Male Dancehall Vocal Nah Go A Jail – Busy Signal
Best Female Dancehall Vocal Chat To Me Back – Lady Saw
Best Dancehall Vocal Performance Duo,Group – Love Is Wicked – Brick and Lace
Best Dancehall Album Intoxication – Shaggy
Best Dancehall Video Church Heathen Remix – Jay Will (Video Director’s Award)
Breakthrough Reggae Artist – Tarrus Riley
Best Dancehall Riddim – Tremor – Stephen McGregor
Best Gospel Album – Prodigal Son – Prodigal Son
Best Gospel Song – Can’t Stop Now – (Songwriter’s Award) Kemoy Rowe, William Barclay and Courick Clarke
Best Music Producer – Stephen Marley
Best International Artist – Collie Buddz
Best Reggae Compilation Album – Jamdown Riddim Driven – Delmar
Executive Producer’s Award – Drummond/Dangerzone
Best Reggae Video – She’s Royal – Rupert Campbell (Video Director’s Award)
Best Reggae Recording (Engineer’s Award) She’s Royal – Romel Marshall
Best Reggae Vocal Performance – On My Mind – Da’Ville & Sean Paul-Duo, Group, Collaboration
Best Dub Recording or Album – Live As One Album – Zion Train
Breakthrough Dancehall Artist – Munga Honourable
Best Reggae Riddim – Guardian Angel – Arif Cooper/Fresh Ear (Producer’s Award)
Best Dancehall Song Nah Go A Jail Again – Reanno Gordon (Songwriters’ Award)
Best Dancehall Compilation – two or more – Tremor Riddim Driven – Stephen McGregor/Big Ship Artistes (Executive Producer’s Award)
Best Dancehall Recording – One Loaf a Bread – Jammy James(Engineer’s Award)
Best Solo Male Vocal Gospel – This Place – Prodigal Son
Best Solo Female Vocal Gospel – Pray For Peace – Chevelle Franklyn
Best Vocal Gospel Performance – Ketch A Fyah – Prodigal Son and Jason – by a Group, Duo or Collaboration
Best Gospel Music Video – Gully People Cry – Andrew Grey (Video Director’s Award) Calvin Whilby and Mark Scott
Most Popular Song – She’s Royal – Tarrus Riley
Most Popular Artiste – Beenie Man
Reggae Trailblazer Award – Chris Blackwell
Reggae Legend Award – Ernie Ranglin
Reggae Icon Award – Bob Marley