A memorable Celebration
Monday, October 19 will long be remembered by Olivia 'Babsy' Grange as the day when she received the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander for service to the Jamaican Music Industry.
It will also hold special memories of a night of celebration with family, colleagues and friends at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel's Talk of the Town.
They came from near and far to celebrate, offer toasts, travel down memory lane, provide musical favourites, and dance the night away. Master of ceremonies, Silvera Castro guided the formalities ensuring that everyone had a chance to congratulate the celebrant in their special way.
In his tribute, Grange's mentor, former prime minister Edward Seaga, recalled meeting young Babsy when she was 13 years old, at a revival meeting where "she jumped and danced up a storm". His words to her then were, "we have a far distance to travel", have proved prophetic. Noting that few deserve the honour as Grange does, Seaga said he has not met many who have worked as hard over the years as Grange. "She works her staff so hard, I have to remind her that slavery is over," he quipped.
Former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson also went down memory lane in his reminiscences about their years as parents of daughters attending Campion College. Referring to her as his sister in the struggle, Patterson said, "Politics is serious business, but we are a nation and must work together as one." He said Grange has been engaged in the promotion of our culture and she deserves our applause.
Opposition Leader Andrew Holness noted that many musicians owed their careers to Grange because she has an eye for talent. "This is well deserved, but it's still not enough," he said, revealing that she was the one who encouraged him to enter politics. "She is compassionate, she never says no, she remembers everyone and she is the heart, feeling, emotion, and conscience of the JLP; she pays attention to detail, cares about the dispossessed and vulnerable and represents the essence of what it means to be Jamaican."
Tributes also came from Dr Christopher Tufton, Mike Henry, Merrick Needham, Dorothy Lightbourne, Ernie Smith, Carlene Davis, Dwight Richards, and Ken Boothe, whose medley had everyone on their feet.
Among the guests were: Bishop Charles Dufour, who blessed the proceedings, opposition Leader Andrew Holness and wife, Juliet; Chris Blackwell, Dorothy Lightbourne; Dwight Nelson; Derrick and Karlene Smith; Omar Davies and wife, Rose; Ali McNab; Youth and Culture Minister Lisa Hanna and her beaux Richard Lake; Dr Christopher Tufton and, wife Neadene; Verna Parchment; Mike and Dawn Henry; Reverend Devon Dick; Belinda Williams; Ernie Smith and wife, Janet; Orville 'Shaggy' Burrell; Dwight Richards; Iceman, who gave some rib-tickling political impersonations; and Carlene Davis and her husband Tommy Cowan.
Also spotted were: Winford Williams; Copeland Forbes; Enid Bennett; Bruce Golding and wife, Lorna; Marcia Griffiths; Yvonne Hope; Paula Surtees and husband, and Yvonne Hope.
Grange expressed gratitude to the organisers of the event who included, her sisters Enid Harrow and Grace Grange Johnson who jetted in from New York, daughter, Paula Surtees, Delroy Morgan; Delroy Thompson; Lenford Salmon; and Sonia Marks Robinson.