Sun | Dec 10, 2023

Makiri Whyte, PM Youth Awardee in Music ‘overjoyed’

Published:Monday | February 6, 2023 | 12:30 AMAaliyah Cunningham/Gleaner Writer
 Makiri Whyte proudly collects his plaque from Prime Minster Andrew Holness at last Saturday’s Prime Minister’s Youth Awards ceremony.
Makiri Whyte proudly collects his plaque from Prime Minster Andrew Holness at last Saturday’s Prime Minister’s Youth Awards ceremony.

Musician Makiri Whyte was one of two 2022 recipients of the Prime Minister’s Youth Awards in Music. Speaking with The Gleaner after the ceremony that was hosted on the lawns of Jamaica House Saturday evening, a passionate and overjoyed Whyte shared that his life has not been easy but through faith, he has come so far.

“You know nothing is as nice as when you get notification from your own people. I go all over the world and I have been on tour with many different artistes, from Jimmy Cliff, to Romain Virgo, Sevana, Jesse Royal and several others and when you go outside and see the reaction from people – people don’t even really know in Jamaica. So when your own say they are giving you an award, it feels better than what the world has to offer. It’s your own people telling you thanks and that we appreciate you,” he said after receiving the award.

The 30-year-old who grew up in Fletchers Land, downtown Kingston believes that music, particularly the drums, was always his calling and reminisced on making beats as a child using whatever percussion-like objects he could find.

“My parents were very active in the church. From me a five-year-old my grandfather, George Tucker, who is also a musician that plays the guitar, looked at me and said, ‘He is a musician’. Every time they play music [in church] I would ask mommy, ‘Yuh hear the drum?’ and it really started from there. Then one day one of the drummers from church gave me drumsticks and it has been history from then,” he recalled.

Whyte, whose parents eventually started up a church of their own, explained that he really began playing in there because the congregation never had any musicians at the time. From then on, he really fell in love with music, but faced a dilemma when it was time to apply for university. He shared with The Gleaner that he originally applied for The University of the West Indies, but within a few hours of the orientation he knew it was not for him and eventually went to the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. He had no choice, but to tell his mother about his new goal.

“I remember people telling her that ‘If a did my son him couldn’t tell me that’. But my mother and father were very supportive cause my mother always tell them to ‘No man just let him do what he wants.’ When Edna accept me now for the introductory year, I did pre-q where they teach you how to read music and all of that and I got a part-time scholarship from Citizens Security and Justice Programme,” he shared.

“I did that year and got another part-time scholarship in Year One and paid off the money and everything and start year two. I never had any money at all this year and I said ‘Mommy well mi a gah school until them tell me seh mi fi come out of class cause me affi learn’. During that time mi never register, but a teacher at that the time Mrs (Claudia) Woon Chin called me before that semester and said, ‘There is a scholarship offering at the school of music and I want you to come apply’. I applied. It was a Grace Kennedy Foundation Scholarship. When I came back, they called me and said they had news for me and I said ‘good news or bad news’, they said ‘great new’. Remember enuh, I am just going by faith at this time and they told me that I was the recipient of the scholarship and they would cover my school fees till I completed the degree,” he continued.

Whyte said that because he has endured hard times and challenges, he also poured his effort into mentorship.

“A lot of people don’t even know this emotional side of me where I have sat down and said I don’t know how I am going to do something, but I am doing it. When I did my final year show I received the highest marks in the school and graduated with honours. That is my life so I am grateful and just keep pushing. That scholarship from Grace was a big deal for me cause if not for them I wouldn’t make it through,” he said.