Marcia Griffiths' musical 50 rewarded
The board of directors of the Coalition to Preserve Reggae Music (CPR) announced on Thursday that 'the Queen of Reggae', Marcia Griffiths, would receive the coveted Pinnacle Award for Excellence at the 10th annual Reggae Culture Salute, taking place on Saturday, November 1, in the Performance Center at Nazareth Regional High School, 475 East 57th Street, in Brooklyn.
Griffiths, who is celebrating 50 years as an integral part of the reggae music industry, came to prominence with Bob Andy in the late 1960s with their remake of Nina Simone's Young, Gifted and Black. She went on to even more fame, singing backup harmony for the late 'King of Reggae', Bob Marley, along with Judy Mowatt and Rita Marley in the group known as the I-Threes, and has since enjoyed a stellar solo career. Notable among her many hits over the years is the Electric Slide, a perennial favourite. Whether it's a wedding, reunion or sweet 16 party, the song which was written for her by Bunny Wailer will always get the party started.
The family-friendly Reggae Culture Salute, which commemorates the coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie I and Empress Menen of Ethiopia, is the longest-running event of its kind in New York City. This year's milestone staging of the multimedia celebration includes nyahbinghi drumming, dancing, rituals, video presentations and live roots reggae performances. Joining Griffiths will be roots reggae crooner Everton Blender, who returns to Reggae Culture Salute by popular demand as this year's special guest. The artiste, who graced the stage in 2009, returns to thrill the audience with hits such as Ghetto People Song and Lift Up Your Head, among others.
CPR members will also showcase their talents as CPR presents the Roots Reggae Revival Showcase. Slated to perform are Don Minott from Connecticut, he returns due to popular demand; Simone Gordon from New York City; from Maryland comes Da Real Storm, while Tasha T makes her way from Toronto, Canada. Former lead singer of the Wailers band, Gary Pine, will make his debut, as will Turban X. CPR Poet Laureate and Ras Osagyefo will also perform. Backing band will be the CPR All Stars, directed by veteran guitarist Linford Carby. A special dance routine featuring dance moves over the past 50 years will include the likes of noted dancer Alphonso Castro, Shawnee Lee and Sophia Walsh-Newman.
Rasta and reggae
Reggae Culture Salute is a celebration of the unique relationship between reggae, Rastafari, Emperor Selassie I and Jamaica. This year's event has collaboration as its theme and will be the platform for the United States launch of SiteMedia's Rastafari TV. In his 2010 coverage of the event, Jared McCallister of the New York Daily News said, "It may be news to some, but reggae music owes a great debt of gratitude to the late Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I." In a preview of the 2006 staging of Reggae Culture Salute, Ben Sesario of the New York Times wrote, "The big reggae concert this fall should be relatively free of the controversy that has dogged so many other recent reggae shows: homophobia," and called Reggae Culture Salute "a celebration of reggae's old-fashioned family values".
Demand to experience Reggae Culture Salute has gone global and CPR has responded with a live Pay Per View Internet stream which can be ordered at www.cprreggae.org. Tickets for the concert are also available at www.cprreggae.org and in several retail outlets.
Reggae Culture Salute is sponsored by Dennis Shipping, VP Records, Western Union and Transcontinental Express Shippers, and co-presented by Union of Jamaica Alumni Associations, Jamaicans Abroad Helping Jamaicans At Home (JAHJAH Foundation) and Diaspora African Rastafari Congress (DARC Foundation). Proceeds from the event benefit CPR and the co-presenters.