Frankie Campbell reflects as JAVAA celebrates 20 years
Event at Fab 5 HQ on Sunday
The Jamaica Association of Vintage Artistes and Affiliates (JAVAA) turns 20 this year, and while there is much to celebrate, it is also a time for reflection for the visionaries whose idea it was to form the organisation which has as its mandate the preservation of Jamaica’s musical heritage through the protection of the professional well-being of artistes and musicians.
Frankie Campbell, guitarist and leader of veteran reggae band, Fab 5, is the outspoken chairman of JAVAA and he has made his voice heard on many occasions passionately drumming up support for the entity. During the pandemic, Campbell was a man on a mission as he tried to raise funds to pay off the arrears on JAVAA’s insurance policy for members.
“The music industry traditionally in Jamaica is not a very united one,” Campbell lamented. “We [JAVAA] have not been supported by the major players, labels, record companies, distributors, or individual superstars.”
Of note is the fact that it was fast food giant, Burger King, which stepped up in a major way to pay off JAVAA’s insurance premiums during the pandemic.
“COVID hit the entertainment industry in Jamaica the hardest, we were totally closed down for the 2-1/2 years. Since we have been back for 17 months, understandably during the first year people were very cautious, so getting back to where we were before the pandemic has been slow. Also a lot of our clientele have changed their entertainment habits and are not going out as much as before, so live shows for adults have been reduced drastically. So unfortunately, JAVAA is still struggling and have not yet recovered from COVID,” the chairman stated.
Campbell explained that any one can become a member of JAVAA as the mandate is really in a nutshell the preservation of the music, so once you want to help, you can become a member. But, he noted that it is the older artistes and musicians who are more interested in “preserving reggae music’s high esteem and place in world music”.
One of the founding members of the organisation, he shared that it was Michael Barnett, Keith Brown, Winston Blake, Tommy Cowan and Junior Sinclair who took the initiative to get the ball a-rolling.
“I came in a week or two later,” Campbell said. “When DJ Scotty died, and we realised that at that time we were all getting older and had no music organisation available which had the interest of older musicians/entertainers … we were struggling to bury Scotty. Also, having been working together in the same industry for so many years we had no forum to meet on a regular basis socially, we invariable only met at rehearsals, backstage on shows and recently at funerals. We needed an organisation where we could interact with our peers regularly on a social basis,” he recalled.
Listing the successes of JAVAA, Campbell singled out the hall of fame, the life insurance policy, the two JAVAA albums featuring some big names like Fab 5, Luciano, Dwight Pinkney, Bagga Case, Keith Lyn, Charmaine Lemonious, Michael Schloss, and others.
A quick look at JAVAA’s “little history” document shows that on Friday, July 11, 2008, the first induction ceremony to the Jamaica Music Hall of Fame took place in The Gardens, Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. The original 12 inductees were: Norman ‘Lord Flea’ Thomas; Vere Johns; Oswald Count OssieWilliams; Alpha Boys’ School (special mention of Sis Ignatius Davies, former head of Alpha); The Wailers (Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Beverly Kelso, Cherry Green & Junior Braithwaite); Louise “Miss Lou” Bennett-Coverley; Olive Lewin; Clement ‘Sir Coxone’ Dodd; The Skatalites (Tommy McCook, Rolando Alphonso, Johnny ‘Dizzie’ Moore, Lester Sterling, Don Drummond, Lloyd Knibb, Lloyd Brevett, Jerry Hines & Jackie Mittoo); (Arthur “Duke Reid; Ernest Ranglin; and Derrick Morgan.
“JAVAA also staged many shows at The Pegasus hotel, the Countryside Club, Police Officers’ Club, St Andrew High School, Fab 5 HQ and other venues. We have revived some performers’ careers by putting them on JAVAA shows and have introduced many new acts to Jamaica. JAVAA has helped to bury many entertainers, including Roy Shirley, who we brought home from England to be buried. And we have lobbied to the government on behalf of the music industry on many important matters,” a proud Campbell said.
On Sunday, JAVAA will celebrate its milestone 20th anniversary at Fab 5’s headquarters on Springvale Ave in St Andrew.