JaRIA honours reggae pioneers, upstarts at 12th award show

Legendary Reggae pioneer Bunny Wailer accepts an honourary plaque from Culture Minister Olivia Grange at the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) honour awards. (Photo: Kevin Ferguson/BUZZ)

Local music trailblazers were commemorated for their cultural excellence and impact at the 12th annual Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) honour awards held last Tuesday (Feb. 25) at the Little Theatre, Kingston.

The signature award show, which convenes the series of activities hosted for Reggae Month, unleashed magical moments of the island’s rich musical and cultural history.

The JaRIA awards highlighted some of Jamaica’s older pioneers and emerging acts who have carved reggae as their niche that has allowed them to tell personal and transformational stories.

JaRIA Chairman Ewan Simpson, in his opening remarks, said the awards are aimed at recognising no single individual, but the efforts of everyone involved in the process.

JaRIA Chairman Ewan Simpson (Photo: Kevin Ferguson/BUZZ)

“We are here to honour each other and that is what is important, the JaRIA honour award is meant for the industry to honour itself,” he began.

“One of the things we want to ensure from JaRIA that we do this year is that we become a real family. Jamaica is too small with too much talent and too many connections for us not to be a family,” Simpson argued.

The honorary recipients included Ray Symbolic, awarded for his contribution in the category of sound system; Elise Kelly, in the category of media; Colin “Bulby” York and Ernest Hoo-Kim in the category of engineer; the professor of dancehall Orville Hall of Dance Expressionz in the category of dance; as well as Good Times in the category of promoter.

Preserving Dancehall moves for generations to come, founder and pioneer of Dance Expressionz, Orville Hall accepts his JaRIA award at the Little Theatre last Tuesday. (Photo: Kevin Ferguson/BUZZ)

Both Lee Gopthal “Trojan Records” and Wycliffe “Steely” Johnson were posthumously recognised in the category of exceptional contribution to the reggae industry; while Phillip “Fatis” Burrell and Alvin “GG” Ranglin were awarded in the category producer. For the icon award in the category of gospel David Keane and Chevelle Franklyn were awardees.

Reggae/dancehall superstar, Mark “Buju Banton” Myrie was also among the pantheon of game-changers who were recognised at the award ceremony. The veteran Gargamel was awarded for his exceptional contribution in the category of song writing.

Banton, who was unavoidably absent, sent a representative on his behalf to collect the coveted award.

Broadcaster Elise Kelly shared that her award is a representation of all her colleagues within the field, primarily those who have continued to push reggae as the leading genre globally.

‘I collect this award on behalf of all my [media] colleagues’ – veteran Irie FM broadcaster Elise Kelly accepts her JaRIA award. (Photo: Kevin Ferguson/BUZZ)

“Reggae indeed is a fantastic sound. I collect this award on behalf of all my colleagues in Jamaica. All of us who put our problems one side and step inside that studio, talk to ourselves for hours as mentor, mother, father and psychiatrist. I also collect this on behalf of my colleagues at Irie Fm particularly those on air because we have proven to Jamaica and the world that reggae can be number one,” she said passionately.

The lifetime achievement award was conferred upon Eric “Monty” Morris for his dedication to the music industry.

The iconic artist in the music industry (Male) was given to Garnet Silk and Rexton Ralston Fernando Gordon “Shabba Ranks”.

Lady G was recognized as the 2020 iconic female artist in the music ecosystem, while Israel Vibrations snatched the title for iconic duo group and Chalice in the category of band.

Check out more highlights from our BUZZ lenses:

Jamaican saxophonist, Dean Fraser was recognized in the area of mentorship for his years of service in the music industry and Yvonne Hope was granted a special award.