Kurt Riley to be honoured in New York
Over the years, there have been many memorable events promoting Jamaica's culture through music. Outside of the artistes, there is one other individual who is very instrumental in doing that - the disc jockey or DJ - who pulls guests to the dance floor with their contagious energy and skills on the turntable playing hits after hits.
And while the artistes have the Grammys and a slew of other awards to recognise their work, that is not the case for these DJ. "Fortunately, that era of not being recognised is a thing of the past," said Jerry McDonald, promoter and event planner.
According to McDonald, one of the brains behind the upscale New York-based event, Blue & Bougie, "For so long we have danced to the mixes of these DJs, and now it's time to engage the community's support in recognising them."
So come this Sunday, DJ Kurt Riley will be honoured in NY for his contributions to the music and entertainment industry. He will receive what the promoters call an 'Impact Award' in the second annual staging of Blue and Bougie.
"It came as a surprise to me," Riley told The Gleaner. "I know people are looking and I appreciate it. It is sort of encouraging me to continue to do the best of my ability," he continued.
It would not be the first time that Riley has been acknowledged for his contributions, but the promoters of the event are convinced that for the history of work, being part of a legacy as the son of The Techniques' Winston Riley (who is also responsible for the sounds of Sister Nancy's Bam Bam), as well as acting as a mentor for young talents in his field, were some of the strong credentials that made it a no-brainer that Riley deserved to be honoured internationally.
"Adding to that, DJ Kurt Riley was never afraid to say he is Jamaican, always reminding his listeners that he is from the country with the black, green and gold flag, and that he is proud to be part of the people and culture," said Anthony Turner, one of the executives of Blue & Bougie.
Patriots of culture
Turner continued, "It is important that people like Kurt Riley, especially disc jockeys, are awarded for being patriots of Ja's culture at home and in their travels, by spreading the music that put us on the map and continue to attract people to the island."
And what is the appreciation like for local DJs in New York?
According to Riley, patrons will react to music based on how they are used to it being presented to them. "It is never a definite response - certain territories appreciate different playing styles, what may work in Miami may not work in NY," he explained.
"Ironically, most of the time I don't see what people see in me, because I don't consider myself good enough. How is it that somebody that is consistently booked for an event worries every time he goes around a DJ console? But I love what I do, I love it more than a lot of things."
A little over a year ago, the disc jockey resigned from his post at Fame 95 FM after more than 15 years, to focus on his career in music production and his brand - Animal Instinct Entertainment. He is currently focused on what he says is "building a dream with a team".
The DJ officially added the title of producer to his name a few years ago, and has not stopped working, putting out music with local artistes, including Camar, Jovi Rockwell, Konshens, Busy Signal, Alaine, and Elephant Man, among other rising talents throughout the Caribbean.
Past Blue & Bougie honorees include Bounty Killer, Nadine Sutherland and Jessie Woo a host at BET TV. This year, Nadine Sutherland is performing and, more significantly, she will be doing a tribute to Buju Banton in celebration of his birthday. There will also be a special performance by '90s bass player Derek Barnett of Sagittarius Band.