Fit for a Walk of Fame - JAVAA wants walkway of music standouts outside Emancipation Park
It is standard to see persons running or walking as briskly as they can along the jogging trail inside Emancipation Park, New Kingston, sweat dripping and sinews taut as they look outwards to a fixed image of their target distance. If the Jamaica Association of Vintage Artistes and Affiliates (JAVAA) gets to its target, there would be persons walking around the park's perimeter, looking down at the names of Jamaican popular music standouts, perhaps with a pamphlet in hand with more information about the name etched into a particular paving stone.
Frankie Campbell, JAVAA's chairman, Entertainment Administrator Joy Fairclough and Artistic Director Orville Case outlined a project to The Sunday Gleaner, which would have the name, profession and career start year on a paving stone about 25 inches square. They want to start at the park's main entrance, where the monument is, and go along Knutsford Boulevard, turning left and eventually ending just outside the National Housing Trust's (NHT) headquarters.
It would take a long time and many names to get there, but JAVAA has a start - at least, on the names - in its Jamaica Music Hall of Fame, the first batch of 12 inducted in 2008. Honorary plaques (which are different from what is hoped for the sidewalk) have been mounted near the ticket booth at the Half-Way Tree Transport Centre since 2010.
"We have identified outside Emancipation Park as possibly the only sacred sidewalk in Jamaica," Campbell said, the water supply and security among the factors contributing to it being ideal for the project. "It is pretty safe - security inside the park and its environs is strong," Campbell said.
With the paving stones maintained in the same way that the sidewalk is currently kept clean, Campbell emphasised, "We are not asking for any money. All we are asking for is permission. We would take up a square (of the current surface) and put the stone there. We are not asking the Government to sponsor it."
The funding plan is largely artiste-driven and the project is time-sensitive, as the life cycle rolls inexorably on.
Campbell gave the example of guitarist Lynn Tait, who died in 2010.
"Lynn Tait died and when the people who knew him die out, no one will remember him," Campbell said. 'If we do not honour them now, no one will know it."
While JAVAA is putting renewed effort behind the Walk of Fame, which they see as contributing to music-driven tourism in Kingston, along with the Bob Marley Museum in particular, it is not a new idea. However, the organisation's representatives said, previous approaches to the NHT, which is responsible for Emancipation Park, have not yielded any fruit.
"The main thing is making sure Brand Jamaica moves forward. We have to monetise our culture to contribute to the economy," Fairclough said.
Among the 2008 batch of Jamaica Music Hall of Fame are Burning Spear, Count Ossie, Dr Olive Lewin, Ernie Ranglin, Chris Blackwell, The Wailers, Prince Buster and Sonny Bradshaw.