jamaica patriotic movement

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CONTRIBUTORS TO A BETTER JAMAICA



By Julian “Jingles” Reynolds

It was sometime in 1968 that I met Tony Laing. He had recently returned from a stint in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where he worked as a fireman. Our mutual friend, Orville “Villus” Tyson who also worked on “the base” at Guantanamo Bay was called, described Tony as the driver of the fire engine truck, who at times dispatched the other fire men before arriving to the place of the fire as he cornered at top speed.                                    

July 22, 1944 - April 13, 2013



 
Laing As many of his relatives, close friends, colleagues, and fans gathered at the St. Peter & St. Paul Roman Catholic Church in Liguanea, St. Andrew on a recent beautiful Saturday morning to give thanks for such an illustrious, fun filled life, I could not help reminiscing on the contributions Tony made, without fanfare, to his beloved Jamaica. What first struck me was the large gathering led by two current Ministers, Youth and Culture Minister Lisa Hanna, and Information Minister Senator Sandrea Falconer, and one former Minister and High Commissioner in Burchell Whiteman. It was music around which we bonded, as it was for most if not all of our male relationships that emerged in the 1960s. Tony’s father was the well known percussionist and balladeer, Denzil “Pops” Laing, and so Tony was exposed to musicians, singers, record producers, and show promoters all his life. In those early days he and I shared a common objective of bringing more recognition and acceptance for those in the entertainment industry, both as writers at The Star newspaper, and Swing magazine. We became great friends almost instantaneously. One of Tony’s famous offerings was “At the Keyhole” a column he wrote for Swing, with all the juicy pieces and sound advice that only an insider in he music fraternity would know.

He was also an entertainment manager and show promoter, who was early in taking Jamaican entertainers to perform in other Caribbean countries. Arguably his biggest act was the Gayletts, the female singing trio with Judy Mowatt, Beryl Lawson and Merle Clemenson.  He was a stickler for artist grooming. How to present themselves both on and off the stage. He established a company in downtown Kingston, TCC, the Conservative Connoisseurs. Another of his early clients and great friend was Rita Marley.

It was from these concerns for the entertainer that he delved into copyrights, and better compensation for artists by producers and promoters. His actions created enemies, but he pressed on unfazed. You could say he single handedly put the issue of copyright protection for Jamaican creative talents at the forefront of the Jamaican psyche.

   A Kingstonian, born and bred, he helped in establishing Heart of Kingston, an organization that champions the cultural, social and economic advancement of the young people living in downtown Kingston. His often forceful, energetic and unflinching pronouncements would either endear many or alienate a few. But his objective was never compromised: An improved quality of life for the less fortunate.

Among his major accomplishments was in working with different segments of the society in reestablishing Liberty Hall, the headquarters of National Hero, Marcus Garvey, on King Street, downtown Kingston. One of his talents was his ability to communicate effectively with people at all levels of the Jamaican society, and this led him to hosting his own radio talk show on Power 106. It became one of the most popular shows on Jamaican radio.

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Interestingly, the service of thanksgiving for the life of cultural icon, Olive Lewin, was held the same sunny Saturday at noon, as did Tony Laing’s. Hers was at the University of the West Indies Chapel that was filled to capacity with proud Jamaicans, relatives, friends, colleagues, and admirers, headed by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, and former Prime Minister Edward Seaga.                 

1927 – April 10, 2013



 
image Once again, the contribution made to the betterment of Jamaica by this humble, dynamic, pretty, and highly intelligent lady was through music. Her accomplishments as an ethnomusicologist and social anthropologist are very well documented in articles, books, and recordings locally and internationally. But it was her work as the founder and leader of the Jamaican Folk Singers that I revere her for most of all.  In the 1960s, primarily following Jamaica’s independence in 1962, the sense of “freedom” from colonial ties inspired great creativity among many highly intelligent, and culturally driven Jamaicans. And Olive Lewin was at the head of those who had much to offer creatively. Her area of concentration was in the folk music traditions. She set about with a group of likewise thinking friends who were singers to form the Jamaican Folk Singers in 1967.

As a young journalist I was fortunate to be given assignments to cover concerts in which they performed with other great folk performers such as the Frats Quintet from the East Queen Street Baptist Church choir. The Jamaican Folk singers were impeccable, flawless, and awe inspiring. You left their concerts feeling proud being a Jamaican. Her contribution to Jamaican culture and social history is immeasurable, and priceless.

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Harry Johnson, more renown as Harry J the record producer of such course changing recordings as Bop and the Beltones “No More Heartache”  recorded in 1968 and believed to be one of the earliest reggae records;  “Liquidator” released in 1969 with the Harry J All Stars, top Jamaican musicians that included pianist Gladstone “Gladdy” Anderson, organist Winston Wright, bassist Jackie Jackson, drummer Winston Grennan, and guitarist Hux Brown; and the Nina Simone chart topping hit song “Young Gifted and Black” done over in classic reggae styling by Bob Andy and Marcia Griffiths.

July 6, 1945 – April 3, 2013



 
http://ireggaenation.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/harry-j.jpg The “Liquidator” introductory bass line was used in the Stax Records mega hit “I’ll Take You There” by the Staple Singers after Harry J had made a gift of his “Liquidator” single to a member of Booker T and the MGs, the backing band for Stax. The controversy surrounding the misappropriated bass line did much in helping to popularize the Harry J All Stars recording around the world. Harry J also died in April 2013, as did Laing and Lewin. He came into music production after working as a guitarist and insurance salesman. He had a passion about making music, and had a distinct sound, that was sweet, full and soulful. In 1972, after working out of Studio One, Federal Records, and Dynamic Sounds studios, Harry J established a 16-track state of the art recording studio that attracted many of the leading recording artistes who hungered for better recording facilities.

Some of the records emerging from Harry J’s studio include Bob Marley and The Wailers first four albums for Island Records “Catch a Fire” and “Burnin” featuring Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh, and “Natty Dread” and “Rastaman Vibration” with the I-Threes, “Book of Rules” by The Heptones, “Sweet Sensation” by The Melodians, among many others. His name is not often mentioned among the great Jamaican producers, but he was an astute businessman, with a distinct sound, and a vision who contributed to Jamaican music’s acceptance around the world.

 

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A headline in one of the daily papers appropriately described Cedric “Im” Brooks as “eclectic and eccentric.” He died early May, this year, at 70, another significant contributor to a better Jamaica, through culture, particularly, music. He was a brilliant tenor saxophonist and flutist who not only entertained his Jamaican fans, but helped in spreading Jamaican music around the world.

      1943 – May 3, 2013



 
http://www.philbrodieband.com/muso-top-muso-pic_cedric-brooks.jpg A product of the world famous Alpha Reformatory Boys School, Cedric went on to lead his own bands, The Mystics, Light of Saba, One Essence, and United Africa, and influenced many young musicians around the world.  In the 1990s upon the deaths of two other great sax men and founding members of the Skatalites band, Tommy McCook and Rolando Alphonso, Cedric joined the band to tour mostly Europe and the United States several times. He brought to the music a highly spiritual concept grounded in Rastafari, and Eastern mysticism which he was exposed to while a member of the world renowned Sun Ra Arkestra. Upon his return to Jamaica from the United States in the late 1960s, he brought this concept of a “commune” of creative spirits; musicians, dancers, and poets which he was exposed to in Sun Ra. He established The Mystics, a band that unearthed some talented creative souls among them the late bassist/poet Joe Ruglass, trombonist Nambo Robinson, guitarist “Bo Peep,” trumpeter David Madden, and dancer Charmaine Golding (who later became my wife.)

Cedric was always reaching for new heights and in the 1970s put out several reggae hits as Im and Dave, the sax man and trumpeter from his Mystics. But for me his greatest accomplishment was the joining of Im’s Mystics with Count Ossie Rastafari Drummers to form The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, which produced two classic Jamaican albums “Grounation” and “Tales of Mozambique.”

This was a transforming event for those of us; Ben Brodie, Eric McNish, Pablo Minott,  Leslie Thompson, Molly Wallace, Elean Thomas, me, and others, who had established an Afro-centric environment in Pembroke Hall in 1969 called The African Cultural Centre. There we did Sunday concerts, Pan-African lectures, and educational sessions. It was at one of these concerts that we brought together the Count Ossie drummers and the Mystics, and as they say, the rest is history.

Cedric like Tony, suffered strokes, and were in a vegetative state for several years before dying. In both cases I sat quietly for hours with them in different hospitals, Tony in Jamaica, and Cedric in New York, and told myself that I would not be able to go back and visit them in the states they were in. Two highly energetic, intelligent, creative and compassionate beings reduced to moribund, catatonic conditions. You felt you were in as much pain as they, even if they were not.

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Maud Valerie Fuller is a name that is little known in Jamaica today, but those of us who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s will recall her as a leading Jamaican actress in radio dramas, such as The Lou and Ranny Show, and Life in Hopeful Village. One of her characters was Liza. She died in Toronto, Canada in January this year. She had lived and worked there as an educator and actress, for many years.

December 9, 1933 – January 17, 2013



 
https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcR4PtxgpjZSG_nOvRU2gIv9uMTNYX0PFXKc7axUMHRxnad27F2X_Q But for me and several others she was much more, she was one of my teachers at Elletson Primary School where I attended from 1956 to 1960.  I remember her vividly as a no-nonsense teacher, who could be extremely nice, and too was very attractive, but also unrelenting that her pupils learned to read, write and know general knowledge. I owe her a lot, and often thought about her and wished I had the opportunity to tell her how much I appreciated her teaching me to love to read. And I know she had a positive impact on the lives of many who continued her mission of ensuring that children are exposed to good manners, self-esteem, and a love for learning.

 

Julian “Jingles” Reynolds is a writer, filmmaker and entrepreneur. He lives and works in the U.S. and Jamaica. His novel “A Reason For Living” will be published in 2013.

Jamaica Patriot

Writing about the realities faced by the oppressed people across the world
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This is an attempt to create a revolutionary movement to arrest the social decline of our country and reverse foreign domination of our economic and political life through the co-operation of our two political parties.

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