Voicemail cried for Oniel
Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
WESTERN BUREAU: Voicemail's Kevin Blair and Craig Jackson broke down and wept bitterly on Thursday night, as reality struck that their friend and brother Oniel Edwards was no longer the third leg in their act.
The only thing that separated the tears that flowed from their eyes and the large crowd inside the Reggae Sumfest artistes' VIP area were the flaps on the 20x20-foot tent that gave them enough privacy to mourn Edwards, who was robbed and killed by gunmen three months ago.
"I am still trying to come to terms with the reality that he is not here. Every now and then we will have these breakdown spells," admitted Jackson.
Blair, Jackson and the late Edwards had performed as a trio on several of the world's greatest reggae festivals, but with Edwards missing this Dancehall Night, "We felt like we were standing on one leg," revealed a sombre-looking Kevin Blair, while adding that when he looked to his left and right he didn't see the man he considered as not just a friend, but a brother.
Most painful performance
This wasn't their first appearance on a stage since Edwards' death, but it was the biggest event yet and the most painful to date, the two revealed. All the pent-up emotion burst like a floodgate when the lyrics, "Talk bout you pickney, talk bout you youth" from the popular Sweat Rhythm was being sung by them.
"Oniel always introduced that song, and when we were onstage it hit home that he wasn't the one doing it," explained Blair, just before describing the poignant roller coaster that they have been going through.
"It was extremely heavy and very hard, acknowledging that he is actually not coming back," the two opened up to The Gleaner candidly.
"Sumfest is an event that we, all three of us, look forward to annually, particularly Oniel," said Blair, adding that the magnitude of the event, the vibes, the energy and the international appeal was the drawing card.
With no intention of replacing their 'third leg', Craig Jackson spoke of the group as, "It's still three of us, two in living colour and one in spirit".
The two men will always remember the drive Edwards had in wanting to achieve more, but when they exited the Reggae Sumfest stage on Friday morning, they felt fulfilled, having successfully executed another performance at the event.
Their set was approximately 15 minutes long, and they drew from an impressive compilation which included Wacky Dip, Nuh Behaviour and Praise His Name.
Wacky Dip for Voicemail was a tribute to Gerald 'Bogle' Levy, who also died tragically, and a song that Oniel Edwards enjoyed performing.
Edwards is survived by Jackson, Blair and a four-month-old baby, Neahlis, who was barely a month old when her father was killed.