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'Land' war!

Festival song writer to sue JCDC

BY SADE GARDNER
Observer writer
gardners@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, June 24, 2018

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Winston Wallace, co-author of Land Of My Birth , the 1978 Jamaica Festival Song winning entry, is taking legal action against the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), organisers of the annual contest.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer, Wallace said he is suing the organisation for using the track in it's 'All Time Best' Festival Song Competition in 2013. According to Wallace, he did not give permission for use of his work.

“I've been insulted by the festival commission, especially by the former minister of youth and culture, Lisa Hanna. They put my song in a contest and this was all over the news. I'm taking them to court and I am penning the writ myself right now,” Wallace stated. “Apparently they think an idiot wrote the song. They are fresh; so disrespectful, so rude. I'm suing them for millions of dollars. The song was entered in the competition in 1978 at their request, but the song belongs to Winston Wallace.”

Wallace said he has written letters addressing the issue to Hanna and current Minister of Entertainment and Culture Olivia “Babsy” Grange. Neither have responded.

“I wrote to Miss Hanna before she left office. No one called me to say we're going to do this or that. This makes me bitter. I am not someone you can trample; I am either on the same level as you or above you. I am well-educated than them,” he said.

Wallace began writing Land Of My Birth shortly after winning the competition in 1977 with Sweet Jamaica. Both were sung by Eric Donaldson.

He said it was conceived as a form of healing for Jamaica, which was politically divided at the time. It was co-written by Fab Five drummer Grub Cooper.

Wallace said he received $1,200 from the JCDC for co-writing the song. The festival song competition will have its grand finale next month.

Land Of My Birth is regarded by many as the unofficial anthem of Jamaica four decades later. Despite this, Wallace is uninterested in national awards.

“I wouldn't want that, I wouldn't accept accept it,” he said. “I just don't believe in it, that's my philosophy. That's an important point though, that many people have said the song should replace the National Anthem. If I had done a song like that in a white country, I would be on a pedestal.”

Wallace has long put aside his songwriting skills and is a private teacher of physics, chemistry, mathematics, English and sociology.

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