Melville Cooke, Gleaner Writer
James Haynes' love for his father, the late guitarist Jerome 'Jah Jerry' Haynes, OD, was evident as he spoke inside the Institute of Jamaica's Council Room last Wednesday afternoon. So was his respect for guitarist Ernest Ranglin, who tutored Jah Jerry, a founding member of The Skatalites band.
So it is appropriate that the tagline of Jah Jerry, Inc, a non-profit organisation which made its first presentations on Wednesday, states "education is our primary mission". And with its first donations - a computer each to the Charlie Smith and Trench Town Comprehensive high schools, plus a US$1,000 scholarship to Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts student Elton Brown - it has stayed true to its purpose.
FOCUS ON EDUCATION
James, who was accompanied by his wife Jean and a number of women who have provided support for Jah Jerry and himself, said the organisation is six months old.
"My father was really about education and possibilities. We felt we needed to do something that will address some of his concerns and the things he held on to," James said.
Amplifying on what the function's host, Winston Williams, had read about Jah Jerry, Haynes gave some personal reflections on his father, who "came from humble beginnings". Each thing Jah Jerry's father, who was blind, passed on to his son, he would "practise day and night".
"Every famous musician who emanates from this island, when they recorded their first song, my father was there," Haynes said, naming Desmond Dekker, Alton Ellis and Bob Marley among them.
"My father never went to secondary school, but he learnt to read and write music," Haynes said, adding that Jah Jerry spent long hours studying.
"His legacy is a higher level of professionalism, a level of determination and, no matter where you come from, you can overcome social barriers. You have to put in the time, you have to put in the practice," Haynes said.
Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna spoke to three things music can do. First, it can "shape the minds of our young people". Then, she said, "there seems to be a level of pioneering". Finally, Hanna said, music gives a sense of consciousness.
Education Minister Ronnie Thwaites, noting Haynes' obvious love for his father, said "our creativity is the primary grace God has given us" and "we need to lift up these expressions".
Brown had many voices lifted up inside the Council Room as he did Concrete Jungle. And Haynes pledged that there will be more from Jah Jerry, Inc.
"This is the first of big things to come," he said.