Gregory Isaacs 70th birthday celebration set for Canada and Brazil

The Gregory Isaacs Foundation is taking its celebrations of the ‘cool ruler’ beyond Jamaica in 2020, in honour of the late singer’s 70th birthday.

Isaacs, whose birthday falls on July 15, will be commemorated in Canada and Brazil that month, a first for the foundation which has been hosting an annual concert in his memory since 2017.

“We’re trying to make it very special while spreading our wings.”

— June Isaacs

Festivities planned

Speaking to BUZZ, Isaacs’ widow, June beamed with excitement at the festivities planned for this year.

“It’s our first time stepping outside of Jamaica to do a tribute, and I can confirm that the show in Canada will feature Sanchez, while the show in Brazil will more take the form of a dance tribute; we won’t have a band, just like sound and some artistes performing,” she said.

These shows will follow the fourth annual Red Rose for Gregory concert scheduled for February 15, which will see international singer Deniece Williams as the headliner. The foundation will also host a dinner on February 14, and a beach party that Sunday to top things off.

“We’re trying to make it very special while spreading our wings. It’s hard work (she triumphantly exhaled), but we’re achieving that all we want,” she said. “Very soon we’ll have a two-day festival probably like Rebel Salute.”

Nice and intimate

She is already in talks with Jeffrey Osbourne to headline next year’s concert and said Brian McKnight will join the roster at some point.

“We want to keep it nice and intimate, and we always choose the Valentine’s period because Gregory’s repertoire of songs is lovers’ based,” she said. “Because his birthday is in July and falls around Reggae Sumfest, we don’t get that full support from the artistes here because most are contracted at Sumfest and can’t work outside of that for the month. With Valentine’s and it being Reggae Month, we said what better choice than to keep having the concert in February.”

Isaacs’ legacy is immortalised through a catalogue of cool, groovy, classics including Soon Forward, Night Nurse, My Number One and Love is Overdue. He died from cancer at age 59.