Additional scholarship in guitarist's name - VP Records' donation helps Jah Jerry Inc expand reach
For the fourth consecutive year, music students at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts received assistance towards their education from Jah Jerry Inc, represented by James Haynes, early in the new academic year. This time around, though, in September, three scholarships were presented instead of the accustomed two.
This year's recipients are Shadeeka Daughma, Ashir Plummer and Jonor Ellis, who each received US$1,000 towards meeting their expenses. Jah Jerry Inc was established in honour of late Skatalites guitarist Jerome 'Jah Jerry' Haynes.
James told The Gleaner that "normally Jah Jerry Inc gives two scholarships, but this time the three students were so close (in terms of meeting the selection criteria) that VP Records said we will give you a donation."
In addition to the scholarships, four computers were donated to the Iris Gilby school, in support of special needs students, Haynes saying that the complete, new units with large screens "were ready to use; they were loaded with software."
"We feel good about that and the mere fact that the school has a need - when we donate we want to give to student or school who has a need," Haynes said. To be eligible for a scholarship, Haynes said, "the students have to be doing well in school and must be a part of school life. But we give it to students who have a need."
He is happy that persons who knew and worked with Jah Jerry, including Ken Boothe, turned up for the presentation.
Fundraising (normally a dinner/dance) is done in New York, USA, where Haynes lives, to fund the scholarships. One is held in spring and another in the summer. Support come mostly from Jamaicans, Haynes said that many of them are fans of The Skatalites. "Some of the people who come, they knew my father. They saw him perform on stage with The Skatalites. There is a man who used to go to the Bournemouth Club (in Rockfort) and see my father perform many, many times. And at the Glass Bucket as well," he said.
Having raised the bar by presenting three scholarships, Haynes is hoping to maintain it next year. He is also hoping to donate four new computers to the Alpha Institute. And he is also hoping to have some of the artistes who would have known Jah Jerry - Boothe, Derrick Morgan and Strangejah Cole - come to the US to perform at a Jah Jerry Inc fundraiser.
"I am going to start the ball rolling, so come next year I will have meetings set up with sponsors," Haynes said. "These great artistes, they have a lot of respect for my father," he said, adding that he would also like to get Jah Jerry's mentor, Ernie Ranglin, to perform as well.
"I am excited. I even have the idea to do a tribute for these pioneers who are still alive. I think it can be done. I want to surround myself with people who are willing to help."
This is especially so as 2017 marks two special anniversaries - 10 years since Jah Jerry's death and five years of scholarship donations by Jah Jerry Inc.