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Jamaican record producer and businessman Ronnie Nasralla dies at 90

Published:Thursday | January 21, 2021 | 1:39 PMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer -
Ronnie Nasralla died yesterday at his Atlanta, Georgia home. He was 90.

Ronnie Nasralla, well-known for his role in the Jamaican music industry, died yesterday at age 90 in his Atlanta, Georgia home. His eldest son, Christian, said he passed away peacefully.

“Rosemary had a priest come there the night before, who gave him his last rites. Daddy actually laughed before he passed, but I am sure it was Hamilton (his second son, who passed away last year September) making the transition easier. He is with so many family and friends now and he is at peace,” Christian Nasralla told The Gleaner.

Nasralla has piloted the careers of several cultural icons, including Byron Lee and the Dragonaires, Toots and the Maytals, The Blues Busters, Marcia Griffiths and To-Isis.

Over his long career Nasralla earned many accolades for his contribution to Jamaica’s culture, his latest was the Order of Distinction awarded in 2013 at the National Honours and Awards ceremony at King’s House.

He was a wearer of many hats: as a keen sportsman he represented Jamaica in football, badminton, fencing and squash; but as a record producer and businessman, was a pioneer in advertising and the promotion of the entertainers he managed throughout his over five-decade long career. Nasralla was also a dancer, said Sheila Lee, widow of Byron Lee.

“Though there was a 12-year difference in our age, Ronnie would take me to Emmett Hall where Byron used to perform to dance — back in those days persons didn’t change partners — we’d dance for hours. I didn’t meet Byron then, even though we went to many of his functions, but we ended up meeting in 1964 all because of Ronnie,” Lee shared.

She said although Nasralla had formed his advertising company, functioning as an agent in that field, he moved to managing the bookings and signing contracts for Byron Lee and was passionate about his work “always trying to top a previous idea using his creative mind and was a master at promoting young artistes”.

His company, Nasralla Promotions Limited, was responsible for events such as the Negril Music Festival.