Tribute fit for a prince

Entertainment

Tribute fit for a prince

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

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For just over six hours on Sunday the spirit and music of Dennis Brown filled the Kingston waterfront. Thousands enjoyed the tribute concert which featured a slew of artistes singing the music of the “Crown Prince of Reggae”.

A mix of experienced and emerging acts stepped onto the stage at the southern end of the waterfront, adjacent to the Bank of Jamaica, and delivered music which has stood the test of time — a testament to the class act that was Dennis Emmanuel Brown who died in 1999 at age 42.

One of the moments which left the audience in awe was when Toronto-based artiste Chester Miller paid his tribute. For the unsuspecting, his introduction could have been a recording of Brown greeting fans with his signature 'Here I Come' salutation.

Dressed in a deep-blue suit, the dreadlocked Miller cemented his performance with well-executed renditions of For You and Caress Me Girl, and the audience showed even more love.

The evening was replete with similar performances, much to the appreciation of the masses.

Freddie McGregor, a contemporary of Brown, dropped tracks from the catalogue of his departed brother. He did the popular Love Has Found Its Way and a rendition of Brown's cover of Wichita Lineman, originally penned by songwriter Jimmy Webb in 1968 and first recorded by country music star Glen Campbell that year.

Richie Stephens' soaring vocals gave wings to a number of well known Brown tracks. His set comprised If I Had The World, Little Green Apples, Westbound Train, and Cassandra.

Samory I dropped If This World Was Mine into his set along with his own Rasta Nuh Gangsta. Mary Isaacs added some feminine energy with a smooth version of Inseparable as well as a Phyllis Dillon medley.

Julian Marley, the son of reggae icon Bob Marley, added a personal touch to his tribute. He shared his recollections of staying at Brown's London residence before dropping I Can't Stand It, along with his father's We And Dem.

“I had a very special moment with Mr Dennis Brown. I stayed at his house and I know all his children, from the big to the small, so that is something very special for me. That is why I had to be here for this moment; we have to show respect for our legends,” Marley told the audience.

Another Londoner, Christopher Ellis, son of rocksteady godfather Alton Ellis, was also on board. He shared If I Follow My Heart, a song written by Alton for Brown. The younger Ellis also teased the audience with one-liners from a few of his father's anthems.

Other artistes such as George Nooks, Althea Hewitt, Nature Ellis, Andrew Paul, Hugh English, Desi Roots, Big Youth, Junior Reid, Capleton, Inna De Yard, Skool and Lloyd Parks and We The People bands, all played their part in making the celebration worth the watch.


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