‘Here I come with love’ – Terrelonge lyrical at Dennis Brown remembrance
All white for Crown Prince of Reggae
The place was the National Heroes Park in Kingston, and the summons went out for a gathering of the people – dressed in white – at the final resting place of the ‘Crown Prince of Reggae’ Dennis Emanuel Brown, to commemorate the 66th anniversary of his birth. In the 24 years since his death, at age 42, reggae has not named another heir apparent, as the Crown Prince title designates, and it was obvious why.
Standing in the gap for Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange was her state minister, Alando Terrelonge. In his well-received message, Terrelonge made attendees totally forget his late arrival as he expounded on the power of reggae music and its significance to our African heritage.
“It is a message that must resonate with all our young kings and young queens growing up right here in Jamaica for every one of them to understand and that the power of their beautiful black skin and the power of the locks that grow from their heads represents more than themselves, but it represents a glorious past and ancestry that connects us back to Mother Africa. And Dennis Brown understood that. He understood that reggae music was not just about [feeling] good. He, like Bob Marley and others, understood that there is power in reggae music ... that reggae music is the music of freedom ... it is the music of love, it is the music of peace, it is the music of unity,” Terrelonge, who sounded like he had put on his preacher hat, said with fervour.
Quoting from one of Dennis Brown’s many classics, he continued, “[Reggae music] is the music that says ‘love and hate can never be friends’ because ‘here I come with love and not hatred’. And so, as a government, it is with great pride that we work together with the family of Dennis Brown each year to pay tribute to his birth, his legacy and his music and the fact that great giants like Dennis Brown, upon whose shoulders this current generation of reggae singers stand, that they understand the rich heritage and what it meant for an 11-year-old boy producing more than 75 albums, taking reggae music across Europe, across Africa, across North America. Brand Jamaica owes a lot to the great Dennis Brown, the Crown Prince of Reggae. Brand Jamaica owes so much to all our great icons.”
Quite fittingly, the formalities of wreath-laying were done with much pomp and ceremony early in the programme and, at 4:11 p.m., with Dennis Brown’s Promised Land playing in the background Terrelonge laid the first floral tribute. He was followed by Dennis Brown’s siblings, Franklyn, Mary and Michelle; chairman of the Dennis Brown Foundation, Joseph Junior Lincoln; and chairman of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association, Ewan Simpson.
Musical tributes were plentiful, starting with saxophone great Dean Fraser; the Inna De yard Band, with icons such as guitarist Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith and keyboardist Robbie Lyn; Inna De Yard Bingistra drummers; young singers Kosher, Tasha, Isha Belle and others who selected songs from Dennis Brown’s extensive catalogue and did them justice.
Among those who were present were representatives of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, of which Dennis Brown was a part and a member of the tribe of Joseph; Tommy Cowan and Carlene Davis; Copeland Forbes; Denise ‘Issis’ Miller, Bridget Anderson as well as other well-wishers, some of whom knew Dennis Brown from the early days when he resided at Big Yard on Orange Street.
Dennis Brown, whose career got off to a great start in the late 1960s when he was only 11 years old, died in Kingston on July 1, 1999.