Lightning strikes twice for Mortimer at JaRIA awards - Buju’s absence due to work with Pharrell
It is said that lightning doesn’t strike twice at the same place, but reggae singer Mortimer put a spin on that when his song, Lightning, grabbed the Song of the Year title and he was voted Breakthrough Artiste of the Year at Tuesday’s Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) Awards. It was one of those occasions when the universe seemed to be in harmony, and the Little Theatre erupted when the dual announcements were made.
Mortimer, who looked surprised when the announcements were made that he copped both awards in the categories determined by voting.
“Give thanks to JaRIA, to reggae music and special thanks, too, for His Majesty for life and song faculties,” he said when he addressed the audience.
Of the song Lightning, which has so far amassed over four million views on YouTube, he told the audience that his wife was the inspiration behind it.
He continued: “Thanks to my wife who has been a constant source of inspiration. She is the inspiration behind that tune yah. Nuff love to my producer, Winter James, to every deejay and to the mother of the ship, Claire Osmon. Nuff love – keep loving, keep fighting,” the humble Rastafarian artiste stated.
Although Mortimer could be considered the biggest winner of the night, it was Dean Fraser’s daughter who stole the show with an overabundance of cuteness. After getting past the idea of the legendary saxophonist having a daughter who’s just about to turn three, the audience delighted in her bravery, as Arjana took the mic from her Uncle Desi [Young] and confidently said thank you on behalf of her dad. Fraser was recognised for his extraordinary impact on the reggae music industry through his role as mentor.
And, in the same way that Fraser, who was overseas and could not collect his award in person, sent his representative, others showed JaRIA the same respect. And this is one of the factors that contributed to the successful staging of the awards this year. Many of the awardees were there in person, representatives showed up and thanked JaRIA on behalf of their family members who were being honoured posthumously, and those who were unavoidably absent sent a stand-in.
Kareem Burrell collected on behalf of his late father, Xterminator producer Fattis, and told the gathering that although his father didn’t work for awards, the family was happy that JaRIA saw it fit to recognise him. Julianne Keane collected on behalf of her father, founder of Church on the Rock, David Keane, who passed away in 2014, and a sharp Cleveland ‘Cleevie’ Browne appropriately collected on behalf of Wyclef ‘Steelie’ Johnson, and noted the legacy of his late partner, who was half of the duo Steelie and Cleevie. Kwame Gordon Martin was present to receive the award for his father’s sound system, Emperor Faith, and Garnett Silk’s beautiful daughters collected on behalf of their father, who passed away 25 years ago. They said that it was the first time their father was being recognised by the industry. JaRIA hailed Silk in the category Iconic Artiste in the Music Industry.
Buju Banton, who was awarded for his writing skills, was unavoidably absent, and the audience was informed that he was in studio working with American singer, rapper, songwriter, record producer, Pharrell. His co-manager, Donovan Germain, collected on his behalf, but would give The Gleaner no further comment on the project.
As emcee, Colleen Douglas pointed out there was so much talent in that space, it was incredible. And among those who made their way on stage to personally pick up their awards were Israel Vibrations, Chalice, Elise Kelly, Colin ‘Bulby’ York, Orville ‘Xpressionz’ Hall and Lady G.
Mention must be made of the 30-piece JaRIA Pop Orchestra, which was assembled to provide the high quality, memorable soundtrack for the awards show. They were conducted by Ibo Cooper, who had stated earlier in the week that he was busy writing the score for the orchestra. His word paid off handsomely.
Special tribute was paid to the only living Wailer, Neville O’Riley Livingston, better known as Bunny Wailer, or simply, Jah B. Not yet fully recovered from the effects of a stroke in 2018, it was a nattily attired Jah B who took his time to walk on stage and accept the citation from Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange. His son, Asadenaki, not only performed, but he was there to lovingly assist his father throughout.
Performances came from One Third, Abi Dallas, Asadenaki and the other members of the Wailers Tribute Band.