On Sunday January 29, lovers of great Jamaican music gathered to pay tribute to “The Crown Prince of Reggae” at the very first event in Reggae Month 2012 put on by the Jamaica Music Museum in association with the Dennis Brown Foundation and the Jamaica Recording Industry Association (JARIA). The Dennis Brown Groundation was held at Liberty Hall downtown, the quintessential location to pay homage to such a legend just as Marcus Garvey envisioned it as a social, cultural and intellectual hub of the people.
Dennis Emmanuel Brown became popular locally in the mid 1960?s singing with other stars of the time such as Byron Lee and the Dragonaires, all before he was 10 years old. By 15 he had internationally acclaimed compositions and was a well established lead singer, thus becoming one of the true child prodigies in music- not just in Jamaica- but the world. His prolific career spans over 75 albums by other producers and countless other self-productions, many of which are still unreleased to this day.
The Groundation opened with three acoustic renditions of Dennis Brown tunes by Cen’C Love, offspring of reggae great Bunny Wailer herself on lead guitar. She was accompanied by ‘The Tuff Gang’ and they later followed up with two originals tracks from her debut album “Love Letter.” In response to the live set, host Dr Herbie Miller reiterated the fact that Brown was a well rounded musician-not just a singer- and that more of our popular artists must follow this trend today. (Video of performance here )
Presenters at the event recalled Dennis Brown as a man committed to his art just as he was to life. Spokesperson for the rights of local reggae musicians and international artist, Freddie Mcgregor glowed at the memory of being a big D Brown fan before even meeting him or becoming coworkers and ‘brothers’ in the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Lifelong ‘sistren’ of Brown, Ms Yvonne Sterling, spoke affectionately of his giving character and innate talent; she even played one of those unreleased tracks by Brown and herself for the patrons to sample. Other presenters included Mikey Barnett, Dr Dennis Howard, Roy Black and Tony Greene.
Dennis Brown is one of the gems of Jamaica and this opening event in Reggae Month 2012- Jamaica’s 50th year of independence- was a testament to the strength of our legacies when they are cherished. Media extraordinaire and longtime friend of “the Prince,” Ms Elaine Wint provided her insight on honoring the honorable ones such as Mr Dennis Emmanuel Brown:
“it would be remiss of me not to offer a reminder that we have the responsibility to keep the records and to write our story. Perhaps a 50th anniversary is the time to consider again how we recall these special occasions of our people for posterity and for the nurture of our future generations”