Grange gives Gala nod

Gala ends with a bang

By Richard Johnson
Observer senior reporter

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

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ENTERTAINMENT and Culture Minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange is expressing delight with this year's staging of the Independence Grand Gala and all the activities associated with 56th anniversary of Independence.

Speaking to the Jamaica Observer following the Grand Gala at the National Stadium on Monday, Grange said her team wanted to present an event that was all-inclusive, showcasing as many aspect of Jamaica's culture.

“This was a gala with a difference. We wanted to highlight the 'Out of Many, One People' theme from the earliest stages with the journey of the first Jamaicans — the Tainos, the coming of the Europeans, through to slavery, the introduction of the indentured labourers in the Chinese and the Indians.

This year, three musical masters in their own right — Stranger Cole, Richie Stephens, and Damian “Junior Gong” Marley — were recognised for their contribution to the development of Jamaican music.

“With this year being the 50th anniversary of reggae, we wanted to incorporate the music of the country starting with mento, which was our first indigenous music, through to ska, which was our first music to go international, then rocksteady, reggae and dancehall. We chose Stranger Cole as one of the pioneers of ska and to introduce a younger audience to his work. Richie Stephens is a younger act who has taken up the mantle of ska and is taking it to a new audience. Then we honoured Junior Gong, who is really a bridge between reggae and dancehall music,” said Grange.

All three thanked their supporters.

“It is a pleasure for me to be standing here in front of my Jamaican audience. No matter how we establish ourselves, we love to be appreciated at home. I am so proud to be receiving this award along with Stranger Cole,” said Richie Stephens.

“Thanks to all who paved the way. Thank you for your energy and inspiration to keep us doing what it is that we do,” Marley told the audience.

The five-hour-long event was a veritable depiction of 'The People Who Came' told via a colourful pageant produced by noted theatre practitioner Trevor Nairne. With choreography by Dr L'Antoinette Stines, the event unfolded on the infield of the stadium to a cheering capacity audience. An impressive cadre of performers was drawn from 20 Corporate Area and St Catherine schools to bring the event to life.

In between, the audience was treated to musical performances by the three awardees, Tinga Stewart, Sanchez, Wayne Marshall, gospel singer Sister Pat, Festival Song winner Nazzle Man, Kuckodoo, and Escarpment Road New Testament Church of God choir.

The evening climaxed with the obligatory fireworks display.

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