Sat | Jan 19, 2019

Story of the Song | Mallory Williams celebrates ‘Reggae Gone Grammy’

Published:Sunday | January 28, 2018 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Mallory Williams
The cover of Mallory Williams' 1986 album 'She Boom'.

At a time when a major quibble with the Grammy Award in the Reggae category is that it is not presented during the live television broadcast, it may be difficult to imagine the euphoria that there was a reggae category in the first instance.

Mallory Williams' Reggae Gone Grammy, celebrated the category's start, Black Uhuru taking the first award in 1985 with Anthem.

Williams said he wrote the song "about the time when they brought in the Reggae Grammy. I was very excited, so I wrote something about it", she said, adding that other people wrote songs about the development.

One of those other Reggae Grammy celebration songs, featured in the moment that made Reggae Gone Grammy popular. Williams gave a copy of the song to radio disc jockey Barrington 'Barry G' Gordon, as a pre-release ahead of a clash in London with David Rodigan which was carried live on radio in Jamaica. Rodigan played a song about the new Grammy category for reggae albums and Barry G was able to counter with Williams' song, which made a greater impact.

"It was the only song about it he (Barry G) had with him," Williams said.

With this platform, Reggae Gone Grammy, went to number nine on the radio chart, becoming Williams' first song to make the sales ranking. Getting it to Barry G had been a matter of crossing the street, as the song was recorded at Aquarius in Half-Way Tree and the then Jamaica Broadcasting Commission's (JBC) office was at South Odeon Avenue.

Williams played keyboards during the afternoon recording session and Danny Brownie played drums and guitar.

In the song, Williams describes the Reggae Grammy as a positive move, which was a general comment, as he did not have a preference for who would take the first honour. In addition to Anthem, the nominated albums were Reggae Nights (Jimmy Cliff), Stepping Out (Steel Pulse), Captured Live (Peter Tosh) and King Yellowman (Yellowman).

Although Reggae Gone Grammy hit the top 10, it was not until his next chart single, Irie Daughter', that Williams started getting requests for performances.

"Them time I was new. I did not know a lot of other artistes and so on," Williams told The Sunday Gleaner.