Solid Gold of the highest quality - Ernie Smith's musical half-century celebrated at Pegasus
Powered by its historic importance and great anticipation, many persons turned out for last Friday's Solid Gold, A Celebration of 50 Years of Music With Ernie Smith. They were not disappointed. From well-designed and choreographed lighting to a fine mix of talents and song selections, the concert, held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston, was a resounding success.
"The experience was very moving; it was absolutely exhilarating," Dr Peter Phillips, leader of the Opposition, told The Gleaner as he exited the venue.
"You know, Ernie Smith is very, very special. Not only is he one of the greatest songwriters that we have, but he has a way of just defining who we are as Jamaicans. And he really recorded the whole history of the past 60 years through his music. I was very moved."
"It was a wonderful show, one of the best productions put together in a long time," was how Carl Tracy described the event. "And it is a show people over 45 to 70 can enjoy; it's not one that you find very often." Jacinth, Tracy's wife, thought it was very nostalgic.
And so it was as each artiste, from the up-and-coming to the established, performed Smith's songs. Among them were Naomi Cowan, with a powerful delivery of Let the Children Play, and Ernie's son Ojay Smith, for whom applause started immediately on the first note of Sunday. His sister Sahara Smith was also in the mix with Don't Doubt Me Now.
Saxophonist Dean Frazer and trombonist Dizzy Minott gave more life to Life is Just For Living, when Minott took the music through the aisles of the Grand Ballroom. Winsome Benjamin's rendition of Ride on Sammy; Charmaine Limonious' excellent delivery of When was the Last Time; Pluto Shervington, who had the house rocking with Pitta Patta; and Carlene Davis' sterling performance of Brand New Day to close the first segment were unmatchable.
Segment two belonged to Ernie Smith, to reflect, reveal and inspire. It was inspirational for the band of young musicians and vocalist called 8 to open the segment. They gave an amazing rendition of I Can't Take It.
Smith opened with One Dream in tribute to Joan Duncan, the late co-founder of Jamaica Money Market Brokers. He followed up with his customary captivating rendition of Key Card and Bend Down.
The segment also had Ernie collaborating with Jon Williams and Peter Ashbourne (on keyboard). The Smith, Shervington and Mikey Bennett penned song; That's the Kind of People We Are was performed with Shervington. The unfamiliar When We Went Back to School and Lucky Sey Mi Wake, a new song from his latest EP, were also part of the musical entree.
The backing Gold Band was led by Desi Jones. Emcees Norma Brown Bell, Fae Ellington and Tommy Cowan all contributed to an amazing Ernie Smith 50th anniversary concert.