Toots goes acoustic for children - New York performance to benefit Rockhouse Foundation
Toots and the Maytals has been confirmed as the main act for an acoustic show in New York City today - a concert that is aimed at raising funds for youth education in Jamaica.
Non-profit organisation Rockhouse Foundation, now in its 13th year, is hosting the special performance to continue projects to build and contribute to schools across the island.
Frederick 'Toots' Hibbert, lead vocalist and musician of the iconic roots, reggae, rocksteady band, Toots and the Maytals, expressed pleasure at being able to participate in the charity event.
"Remember, the children are the future and children will always have a special place in my heart," Toots told The Gleaner.
With the increasing presence of charities worth supporting, more have had to rely on the support of celebrities, musicians and recording artistes.
Accounting clerk at Rockhouse Foundation, Ashley Survis, tells The Gleaner, "Having local and international artistes recognise the work the organisation has been putting in gives the rest of Jamaica and the world the urge to spread the word."
Over the past 10 years, the Rockhouse Foundation, in association with the Rockhouse Hotel located on West End Road in Negril, Westmoreland, has assisted over five educational institutions with the improvement of classroom facilities and acquiring material for various programmes. This is in addition to launching the Savanna-la-Mar Inclusive Infant Academy, which caters to children of all learning abilities within the same environment.
"When I heard about and saw the work that the Rockhouse Foundation is doing, giving them my support was an easy decision," Toots said.
Though the event is not the first of its kind that Toots and the Maytals will participate in, Toots is especially excited about the show because it will give back to an honourable initiative. The Toots Foundation, established more than 10 years ago by the Grammy-award winning recording artiste and manager Michael 'Mike' Cacia (who passed on June last year), is a similar non-profit organisation.
"The Toots Foundation has been quietly doing its part to help. We contribute mainly to persons with medical issues and who need financial assistance with medical expenses," Toots said.
Each time Toots and the Maytals performs, US$1 from each ticket sale goes towards backing the foundation's efforts. The Toots Foundation has opted to give quietly in most cases as an indication of respect to the recipients.
"I do believe that more can be done by entertainers; sharing is caring. The most 'I' bless us with musical talent, so anything we can do to help guide and develop young minds is a great thing," Toots said.
"I also think that mentorship and guidance is needed just as much, if not more so, than financial assistance at this time and just the giving of time can go a long way."
Most of the donations and assistance to the Rockhouse Foundation comes from the US. It is hoped that Wednesday's concert will not only encourage monetary contributions but widen public attention.
Toots further advised that the music is a great way to teach the youths and entertainers that they should only be teaching them positive things to help them to believe in themselves more, whether it be through songs, actions or involvement at the community level.