Sat | Jun 6, 2020

Marathon weekend celebration for Sugar Minott’s birthday

Published:Wednesday | May 20, 2020 | 12:00 AMYasmine Peru/Senior Gleaner Writer
Sugar Minott
Maxine Stowe
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The family of Sugar Minott, the late reggae and dancehall legend who gave the world anthems such as Herbsman Hustling, No Vacancy, Mr DC, and A House is Not a Home, and who exposed many young artistes through his Youthman Promotions, will again honour him on his ‘earthstrong’, May 25. This year, however, the celebration will move online, following the trend of all events in this COVID-19 era. But, in a sense, it will be the mother of all bashes – three glorious days dedicated to all things Sugar. The marathon begins on Saturday, May 23, and goes until midnight on Monday, May 25.

His widow, music industry executive Maxine Stowe, is throwing her support behind this virtual tribute event which will see family, close friends and business associates in Jamaica, New York, Georgia and London coming together in a global virtual platform, led by the Youthman Promotion sound systems from Jamaica, USA and the United Kingdom.

“Three days of celebration was inspired by the Youthman Promotion sound system which felt that it was a weekend before his Monday birthday and as radio jocks, marathon weekends are promoted as special tributes,” Stowe told The Gleaner.

This year has particular significance for Stowe, with her family being allowed to lead the promotion of his legacy and also on an interesting numerical level. “For me it, heralds his 10th anniversary transition, because Sugar passed away in 2010. Numerically, he is 64, which adds to 10 and he transitioned on the 10th,” she explained.

The Youthman Promotion sound systems have invited collaboration with several leading systems and personalities across their spaces to participate in the marathon event scheduled on BlazeExtremeRadio.com and BlackRootsRadio.com. In keeping with the virtual readiness of this project, Instagram Live will also be in effect @sugarminottoriginal and @youthmanpromotion1.

Among the planned activities across the three days will naturally be the playing of songs from Sugar Minott’s extensive catalogue of both old and unreleased material. A versatile artiste, whose styles encompassed raw roots reggae, sweet lovers rock, and classic dancehall, Sugar Minott released over 60 albums and hundreds of singles during his lifetime.

“Sugar over-recorded in his singing career to power his label and sound systems, Youthman Promotion and Black Roots. This leaves us with a multitude of unreleased recordings across numerous producers. What we will be doing during this celebration is giving a live mixtape preview of an album which will be released on July 10 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of his passing,” his widow disclosed. Stowe also pointed out that this wealth of unreleased material offers a release challenge, as well as a publishing opportunity for Sugar Minott’s legacy.

Commemorative merchandise will also be released on Friday for special delivery orders and will later be made available at Osunya’s World of Fame outlet.

Sugar Minott, whose debut album, Live Loving, for Studio One is credited as the first dancehall album in Jamaica, began his career as part of The African Brothers in 1969, along with Tony Tuff and Derrick Howard. He later connected with Coxsone Dodd, the uncle of the woman he would later wed, and while there, Sugar, it is said, developed a talent for writing new songs to fit over existing rhythms, something that singers did when performing live, but rarely in studio. He is credited with pioneering an approach that would be central to the emerging dancehall style.

He formed his Youthman Promotions in 1978 to assist young singers from the same ghetto background as himself. Among those who have passed through this institution are Little John, Triston Palmer, Barry Brown, Tony Tuff, Junior Reid, Yami Bolo, Tenor Saw, Nitty Gritty, Garnet Silk, Tony Rebel and Steve ‘Shalom’ Harper.

yasmine.peru@gleanerjm.com