Wed | May 27, 2020

‘Two crowns, but no heads’ - Rescheduling leaves Reggae Sumfest organiser mulling treatment of dancehall coronation

Published:Wednesday | April 29, 2020 | 12:00 AMYasmine Peru/Senior Gleaner Writer
Shabba Ranks performs at Reggae Sumfest in 2012.
Below: Spice performs for the Sumfest crowd on dancehall night.
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Reggae Sumfest, the premier dancehall and reggae festival in the world, has a history of acknowledging royalty. In July 2009, ‘the Doctor’ Beenie Man was crowned King of the Dancehall at Sumfest, and in 2012, at the 20th staging of the event at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex in Montego Bay, Lady Saw was crowned Queen of the Dancehall. However, in 2014, Lady Saw ditched her secular crown and robe for spiritual reasons, thus leaving the throne empty. Reggae Sumfest was all set to rectify that in July by officially crowning Spice as the new queen. Additionally, there were several hints by the organisers that dancehall’s first Grammy Kid, Shabba Ranks, would have been crowned Emperor of the Dancehall.

“We already bought both crowns,” CEO of DownSound Entertainment, Joe Bogdanovich, told The Gleaner yesterday, the day after it was announced that Reggae Sumfest 2020 had been rescheduled until next year. “So we now have two crowns, but no heads,” he lamented.

Originally scheduled for July 12-18 at Catherine Hall in Montego Bay, the staging of Reggae Sumfest has been impacted by the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

However, prior to that reality, in a February 2020 release, the Sumfest team had stated that Spice would “claim her place among Jamaica’s music greats when she is crowned Queen of Dancehall at the 28th staging of the iconic Reggae Sumfest”. Many persons in the industry, including Spice herself, welcomed the news.

“Jamaican female artistes have taken a leading role in the music industry, both locally and internationally, and Spice has been at the forefront of that. Many younger artistes have her to thank for laying the foundation that has led to their success. Spice has performed at Reggae Sumfest more than 10 times, so it is only fitting that she receives the title on our stage. She is an amazing artiste, and we look forward to honouring her,” Bogdanovich said at the time.

He later said that a male counterpart would also be crowned at the event and subsequently Shabba Ranks was revealed in the lineup, and touted as ‘The Emperor’, alongside a crown. The IG build-up had declared, ‘Heavy is the head that wears the crown’. However, in typical Bogdanovich fashion, he kept fans entertained by playing the guessing game.

Dancehall legend Shabba Ranks was expected to perform on Festival Night 2, on July 18, and his takeover of the Sumfest stage already had a time slot – 2:30 a.m. Bogdanovich described Shabba Ranks as “The Emperor of Dancehall, in any era.”

However, there are now calls for the crownings to take place. “Mek wi do it virtually, pon Insta live, Zoom, fb, somewhere, anywhere,” an ardent fan posted on Sumfest’s IG page.

Bogdanovich isn’t ruling out anything at this point, and he also disclosed that he and his team still have some “big plans for 2020”.

As it relates to artistes who would already have received a deposit, he explained to The Gleaner that legally, they have to perform at Sumfest in 2021, as long as they did not have a previous engagement that would clash with the new date. The next staging of Reggae Sumfest is scheduled for July 18 to 24, 2021.

yasmine.peru@gleanerjm.com