TODAY, Reggae month activities commence with the staging of the Dennis Brown Symposium at Liberty Hall, followed by the tribute concert on Orange Street in downtown Kingston.

Brown's birthday falls on February 1, but because Orange Street has to be blocked off for the concert, it is held on the Sunday closest to his birthday.

 The secret to Dennis Brown's sustained success is not only his incredible voice, his incredible vocal range and stylistic ability, but also the fact that he was easily the most charismatic of all the reggae artistes of his era.

He was not bitten by the superstar bug. He remained a down-to-earth, approachable, jovial personality off the stage, who was humble, courteous and polite. So he easily won over fans and they all remained loyal to him throughout his career.

As a former partner in Sunsplash, he was the first artiste on the line-up annually. He single-handedly built our singer's night into the 'can't miss' night of the event. And, each year, with or without current hits, he would literally and lyrically vanquish all competition.

Dennis Brown has a vast catalogue of songs that is second to none in reggae music, and, whether he was doing originals or cover versions, he stamped all with his own inimitable style. He has become the most covered reggae artiste, confirming the impact he continues to have over listeners, fans, aficionados of the music.

During his career, promoters were assured that very few people would leave the venue before he performed. Therefore, they made him the closing act on a show, giving vendors and concessionaires the opportunity to ply their wares.

So many acts — George Nooks, Richie Stephens, et al — emulate Dennis Brown's singing style. His songs are still popular; no wonder Bob Marley said that Dennis Brown was his favourite singer!

People may argue that, on paper, the Rebel Salute line-up this year may not necessarily have been the best ever. However, it was truly magical. All the artistes who performed were on the top of their game and delivered, leaving patrons wanting more. Leroy Gibbons, Johnny Clarke, Johnny Osbourne and Max Romeo were the showstoppers. Stephen Marley put on a very workman-like show, but when he was joined by his sibling, Jr Gong, they really brought the house down.

The one downside of the show was the two MCs that followed Jenny Jenny. The commentaries from the MCs did not complement what patrons had come to expect from such a show.

Rebel Salute was the perfect event to launch the Jamaica 50 calendar of events. The spiritual high that it gave us carried over into the first night of Jamaica Jazz and Blues.

The tribute to reggae music in celebration of our 50th year of independence, staged on the first night of Jazz and Blues, was very successful. Within a line-up of some of reggae's more significant luminaries, Derrick Morgan stood out, as did Marcia Griffiths, Assassin, Etana and Shaggy (with surprise guests Tarrus Riley and Ne-Yo). The Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival organisers should be congratulated for their initiative to devote a whole night of the festival to Jamaican music throughout the ages. Hopefully, the night was a financial success which will encourage their consideration for making it an annual feature of the festival.

The very popular Reggae Wednesdays, normally staged at Edna Manley, will be staged in Emancipation Park.



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