Generosity to a guitarist
Last Tuesday, there was a gathering on the grounds of Studio One at 13 Studio One Boulevard (formerly Brentford Road), which continued what is now an established tradition of supporting a young musician.
For the third consecutive year, a donation was made to a student at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts by James Haynes on behalf of Jah Jerry Inc, a non-profit organisation he established in the name of his father, late Skatalites guitarist Jerome 'Jah Jerry' Haynes, OD.
This year's scholarship recipient is Janoy Ellis. Explaining the criteria for the US$1,000 scholarship, Haynes said, "The student has to major in music and the guitar must be the principal instrument. The student must have a B average."
In addition, not only must the student need the assistance, but he or she must also show signs of being willing to give back to his or her community, including being involved in the life of the college.
This is consistent with Jah Jerry's beliefs as at the first presentation in his name held at the Institute of Jamaica in Kingston two years ago, Haynes said, "My father was really about education and possibilities. We felt we needed to do something that will address some of his concerns and the things he held on to."
The money goes towards the student's tuition and other education related expenses.
The 2015 presentation was held on Jah Jerry's birthday (he would have been 88 years old last week but died in 2007) at the place where the guitarist was involved in the founding years of recorded Jamaican popular music. Among those attending were singers Bunny Wailer and Strangejah Cole, Haynes saying that they both told him about Jah Jerry's influence. Appropriately, Cole sang a bit of his 1982 hit Rough and Tough, on which Jah Jerry played; and Bunny Wailer did a bit of Simmer Down, in which Jah Jerry also had a hand.
Haynes noted that both spoke about Jah Jerry's humility as have other persons before. Also making the trip were Haynes' mother and brother.
The scholarship is funded by a dinner and dance fundraiser in New York, where Haynes lives, and this year's event was held on April 18. For an upcoming fundraiser in July, the intention is to get the We Deh Ya band to perform.
Haynes also also has hopes of a live session in Jamaica, prompted in part by last week's scholarship ceremony. As Studio One founder Clement 'Coxson' Dodd died on May 5, 2004, there is the possibility of a joint marking of both men's lives, along with the scholarship ceremony. Haynes raised the possibility of having a number of singers associated with Studio One perform, which would be much easier than trying to get them to assemble in New York.
At the two previous Jah Jerry Inc scholarship ceremonies, computers were handed over to representatives of Charlie Smith and Trench Town high schools (2013) and Jones Town Primary School (2014). However, Haynes said at fundraisers in New York, persons from rural Jamaica complained that the computers were going to Kingston schools. So, for next year's donation, Jah Jerry Inc will focus on St Catherine. The plan is to donate two computers each to two schools. However, if only two computers can be donated, each school will receive one.