Jamaica Celebrates Mandela with Distinction and Song
By Jennifer Ryan V9#7 1991
Amandla! The deep-throated roar of the crowd in Kingston’s jam-packed National Stadium reached and rattled the rafters of heaven. As the poignant strains melted into the thunder of myriad voices, Nelson and Winnie Mandela stood straight, tall and proud, fists clenched in the traditional salute to freedom. The Mother and the Father had returned home. The Children wept with joy
For 10 days, newspapers, radio and television had been trumpeting the news to Jamaica’s masses. The Mandela’s were coming! The dream about to be fulfilled. Not since the visit of his Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie, in 1966, had an event of such momentous import occurred. Unnatural mysticism filled the air since it appeared as though the Mandela’s would actually set foot on Jamaican soil on July 23, the birthday of His Majesty. [Update: The Mandela’s arrived July 24 and stayed 24 hours]Continue reading →
Seriously troubling all the more established Dancehall DJs this year is Buju Banton, a young man with stylish but homely aspirations. Ghetto-born Mark “Buju Banton” Myrie, at only 19, has, in the space of just five months, risen from interesting but run-of-the-mill Kingston DJ to front runner in the ‘92 Superstar Stakes.
True, he doesn’t have anything like the striking bone structure of the man he’s compared to – Shabba Ranks (whom I shan’t even mention ‘cause the two are, according to Buju, ‘two different kekkle of fish’) – but his reassuringly gruff warmth is usually a little less (How shall we say it?) raw! Continue reading →
Update 2020: We are saddened to report the passing of producer/engineer Bobby Digital on May 21, 2020. His son Sheldon relayed that his father passed away from a kidney-related illness. The entire Reggae and Dancehall family mourns the loss of this visionary who left his mark and sound on five generations of musical history. ~ M. Peggy Quattro
Bobby Digital – The Producer for the ’90s
By Clyde McKenzie V14#3 1996
Bobby Digital, producer extraordinaire, shares the same astrological sign as such notables as Albert Einstein, Quincy Jones, and Mikhail Gorbachev. This affable Pisces is also a first-class studio engineer and creator of some of Reggae’s most compelling rhythms, including the popular “Kette.”
Bobby Digital’s life began in a fashion not far removed from that of many major players in the music industry. He was born poor to Mary, a dressmaker, and Eric Dixon, a carpenter. With his four siblings, Bobby Dixon shared a modest existence in the Olympic Gardens area Kingston, notorious for its natives who find refuge in a life of crime.
Before we proceed, let’s get one thing straight, Garnet Silk was no Bob Marley. He didn’t profess to be Bob Marley, nor did he want to be. Despite the obvious similarities in religion and profession, the two possessed entirely different personalities.
The inevitable comparisons that have been made since Garnet burst onto the scene three years ago have been further fueled since his death a few months ago. Such a flattering likeness is evidence of the social impact the 28-year-old singer made in such a short period. In fact, he created a spark more famous names, like Ziggy Marley, failed to ignite among the masses.
The Music of Sonia Pottinger–High Note & Gay Feet V9#3 1991
(2020 Update below)
By Lee O’Neill
Many consider the mid-to-late sixties the golden age of Jamaican music. As the early Ska beat was changing into what would become Reggae, artists such as Ken Boothe, The Paragons, Alton Ellis, the Techniques, and the Gaylads were making hit after classic hit, and producers like Clement Dodd, Duke Reid, and Clancy Eccles were busy making bundles of money while defining the sound of Reggae music.
One of the most successful of these early producers was Sonia Pottinger, owner of the Gayfeet and High Note labels, possessor of a keen commercial sense and artist’s touch in the studio. Some of Reggae’s greatest songs were released on her label. Until recently, Pottinger’s reputation was in danger of disappearing. New anthologies of Pottinger productions on Heartbeat (Musical Feast) and Trojan (Put on Your Best Dress) join a few scattered tracks on anthologies, reissues of two of the Culture albums she produced, and some out-of-print Jamaican LPs, in a growing tribute to her talent Continue reading →