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Former 'Dragonaire' still persues music despite health woes

Published:Sunday | June 21, 2015 | 6:00 AMShereita Grizzle
Courtney Robb Sr, former bass player for Byron Lee and the Dragonaires.

COURTNEY Robb Sr, former bass player of Byron Lee and The Dragonaires, wants everyone to know he's alive and doing well. Robb Sr was given a medical scare back in February when he suffered congestive heart failure and had to receive medical attention at a Florida hospital.

Robb, who has been battling health issues, told The Sunday Gleaner that, since 2005, when he suffered renal failure, people have been wondering if he passed away. He, however, wants the world to know that, despite his numerous health problems, he is in recovery mode and is still pursuing music. "I am not dead, the man above has been good to me and I have a great testament to share," he said. "Since I left the band, I stopped doing secular music and I am now doing gospel. I am a part of a gospel band back home in Florida and I am enjoying life. Taking it one day at a time." He is currently the bass player at the Palm Bay Methodist Church in Florida.

The bassist was an integral part of Byron Lee and the Dragonaires for 35 years. As part of Lee's Dragonaires, Robb toured the Caribbean and North America playing calypso and soca music. The band's hit song, Dance Hall Soca, recorded with Admiral Bailey, is credited with starting the ragga-soca craze of the late 1990s.

The musician, who is currently in Jamaica, had some advice for musicians and artistes today. Robb Sr said he still follows the industry and is appalled at how fast the music has deteriorated. Admitting that the music he used to make with Byron Lee and the Dragonaires was a bit raunchy, Robb says the music of today is far worse.

"I mean, we used to sing about the ladies and we said what we wanted to and nothing is wrong with that, but when you move from singing about the ladies to singing about body parts, it gets to a whole new level, it becomes degrading," he said.

Although he believes the music has lost its classic taste, Robb believes it still has not gone to the level where the damage cannot be repaired, and believes it is up to the artiste to change where the music is heading. "It (the music) has not gone to the place yet where things can't change, but artistes have to take a stance and decide to make the change before anything can happen. It is really up to them and I believe there is still time to do some positive things in the industry."

shereita.grizzle@gleanerjm.com