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Bongo Herman performance delights inmates, guests

Published:Sunday | July 3, 2016 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju
Bongo Herman sings for Tower Street inmates and guests.
Carla Gulotta (left) speaks with Mr English at the celebration.
Senator Mark Golding (right) joins alongside Vanna Lawrence (centre) of the European Union and Ian McKnight (left) to celebrate End of year at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre in Kingston on Friday, July 1.

Master percussionist Bongo Herman spent some time in the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre, Kingston, last Friday afternoon, igniting a rollicking musical journey, providing insights into some aspects of the early days of Jamaican music.

In a performance interspersed with snippets of history and his rendition of some of the hits produced during the glory days of Jamaican music, the drummer also dug into his bag of old musical instruments. Demonstrating the use of some items used to create soundtracks prior to the digital era, Bongo Herman really connected with his audience.

The concert marked the ninth anniversary of Free 88.9 FM, the radio station operated by a committee comprising inmates and officers, as well as members of Stand Up Jamaica. It coincided with the 2016 observation of International Reggae Day and saw established and budding entertainers putting on a great show.




Bloom of Light Band ably backed Herman, special guests and an abundance of in-house talent resident at the penal institution.

Guests, which included inmates as well as Opposition Spokesman on Justice Mark Golding, members of the EU Delegation to Jamaica, among others, danced as they enjoyed the interaction with performers, transforming the correctional centre at Tower Street into concert central.

Jesus Orus Baguena, head of cooperation for EU Delegation to Jamaica, and Carla Gullota, founder of Stand Up Jamaica, were presented with plaques on behalf of Free 88.9 FM and the inmates at the correctional centre.

The presenters spoke to the strong support over the years from both entities, which has invested in a structured and sustained rehabilitation/education of the Tower Street inmate population, using the facilities of the radio station, recording studio and cultural centre which were built with funding from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and Canadian International Development Agency.

Then it was back to the live entertainment, with Vanessa Lee Bongo out of Barbados adding some regional spice, opening with Sensimilla, which was well received, before segueing into two love songs, that also went over well.