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Maintaining reggae's rich legacy

Published:Sunday | February 1, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer

For 22 years, Tony Rebel's birthday celebration, Rebel Salute, has presented an opportunity for reggae artistes whose repertoire is solidly built on conscious reggae music to perform in Jamaica.

And for those 22 years, we have seen artistes who have long passed their peak, but are still relevant, and artistes who are fresh and seeking to build their careers, while maintaining the rich legacy of conscious lyrics on which the reggae foundation is built.

At Grizzly's Plantation Cove two weekends ago, the tradition continued. Conscious up-and-coming artistes like The Gideon, Kabaka Pyramid, Alborosie, Jesse Royal, Leaf of Life, Nature, Jah9 and others were billed for the show, some of them for the first time.

At the other end of the spectrum, artistes who haven't performed in Jamaica for a long while, such as Cornel Campbell, Johnny Clarke, Israel Vibration, Inner Circe, and others got a chance to please the home crowd once more.

Appearing on Rebel Salute for the first time, both The Gideon and Nature were happy for the opportunity.

"It was magnificent. It was such a vibrant feeling, trust mi ... yeah man, way up! Way, way up!" said Gideon of his performance.

"First, I presented Nicole Miller, who is one of our extraordinary singers. She did my intro for me; then I delivered a tune called Push on Through, the Raggamuffin, which is one of my more popular ones, and also Jah Jah Never Fail I Yet."

excellent reception

Downsound Records artiste, Nature, was just as positive about his performance.

"It was excellent. The patrons received it very well and I just have to give thanks to the Most High for the talent, the inspiration, you know what I mean," Nature said.

"I delivered the message of world peace, songs like Revolution; a song for the trying people, Trying Man; song like Preserve Nature, because we have to preserve the environment in order for the environment to preserve us."

An artiste of promise, Leaf of Life also reflected on his performance at Rebel Salute 2015: "Mi love it. Mi give thanks, you know, it was all a blessing same way. Give thanks to the musicians who support Leaf of Life. Big up Tony Rebel fi put mi pon di show. Mi really appreciate it."

With hits like Stars and Queen of the Minstrel from over four decades ago, Cornel Campbell was happy to be able to deliver his songs on a Jamaican stage once more. He also delivered later hits, such as Mash You Down, Rope Een, and others.

"It's been a long time since I performed in Jamaica," Campbell told Entertainment Avenue.

"I've been overseas much of the time, but I got the opportunity to do this show, which I'm very grateful for, because I want to get myself together with the Jamaican people to revive the memory of Cornel Campbell. It was a fantastic, an excellent show and it was well accepted by the people, which I'm very grateful for."

prolific johnny clarke

Another prolific hitmaker from the 1970s, Johnny Clarke (Move out a Babylon, Rock with Me Baby, None Shall Escape) had performed at Rebel Salute while the show was in St Elizabeth. He was appearing on Rebel Salute for the first time in St Ann.

He admitted that Rebel Salute gave him, basically, the only opportunity to perform in Jamaica, even though he was performing overseas, the last time being in Brazil last year.

"Yeah, because Rebel Salute bring out the roots side of reggae," Clarke stated. "Reggae has different segments and there are certain sides of music that is spiritual and educational, and Rebel Salute deal with that side."

The opportunity for these artistes, argued Tony Rebel, is what makes the show unique.

"One of the things that is unique about Rebel Salute is that (it's) the springboard for a lot of artistes who get a chance to perform on a big stage, or to allow certain promoters or producers to see them."

"For instance, you have people here (at Rebel Salute) who book artistes, you have VP Records here, you have all of these people who, if you do the right thing on stage, you never know what could happen for you. Rebel Salute presents that opportunity. An artiste who has a niche market, has had lots of hit songs, and people don't think that they are current, we make sure we put them back in it so people can see them and they can go forward and refresh their career. This is what Rebel Salute is all about, the preservation of the real, authentic music and it presents lots of opportunities."