Poppy Brady, Gleaner Writer
AS CONCERT line-ups go, it doesn't get better than this - the pride of Jamaica, the Olympic athletes, will join forces with stars such as Beverley Knight, Jamelia and Jaki Graham to celebrate their country's 50th anniversary of Independence.
The unique cultural extravaganza and salute to the athletes is a once-in-a-lifetime event being staged at Birmingham's Symphony Hall on Wednesday, July 25. The following day Jamaica's track and field team leave their pre-Olympic training camp for London 2012.
The concert is being hosted by the Association of Jamaican Nationals (Birmingham) UK in association with Birmingham City Council, the Jamaican High Commission and the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA). Proceeds from the event will be donated to the JAAA for sports development in Jamaica.
In an unforgettable evening, Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Veronica Campbell-Brown and their teammates will join in an event which will include tributes to Bob Marley and the late Howard Aris, former president of the JAAA, who died suddenly eight months ago.
The line-up also includes Musical Youth, Jimmy James, Carlton Curtis, Skibu, the Horizon Youth Choir and the Aston Youth Academy. Veteran artiste Count Prince Miller, who took part in Jamaica's original Gala Independence show in August 1962 at Kingston's National Stadium, will open the concert, which is expected to be a sell-out.
Junior Douglas, artistic producer, said: "The event is not only unique, but historical too, as we will have the athletes present. The rehearsals have been mind-blowing and we have been planning some spectacular surprises.
"It's a unique experience for young artistes in Birmingham also, who will be given the chance to share the stage with such big names as Beverley Knight and Jamelia."
The concert will include a tribute to Birmingham's legendary saxophonist Andy Hamilton, who died last month at the age of 94, and who had been invited to perform. His sons Mark and Graeme Hamilton will play in his memory.
Birmingham-born soprano Abigail Kelly is expected to lead the singing of Jamaica's national anthem.
Beverly Lindsay, OBE, OD, who chairs the Association of Jamaican Nationals (Birmingham) UK, said: "This truly is a concert of a lifetime - providing both entertainment and education as we celebrate this landmark date in Jamaica's history.
"We would like to thank Birmingham City Council for partnering with us and making this event possible."
Tickets are available through the Symphony Hall box office on 0121 345 0600 or at www.thsh.co.uk.