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A pioneer of Jamaica’s music industry and bandleader extraordinaire, Byron Aloysius St. Elmo Lee, was today conferred with the National Honour of Order of Jamaica.
In a moving ceremony, which was specially arranged and chaired by the Honourable Olivia Grange, Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, Mr. Lee received the instruments of the O.J. from the Governor General, the Most Honourable Professor Sir Kenneth Hall at the Tony Thwaites Wing at the University Hospital of the West Indies where Mr. Lee is a patient.
The Proclamation read that Byron Lee, who was the recipient the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander, was having the Order of Jamaica conferred upon him “for his outstanding service to the music industry, with effect from the 24th day of October 2008.”
Addressing the ceremony, the Honourable Bruce Golding Prime Minister of Jamaica said the O.J. was most richly deserved by Mr. Lee, leader of the world-famous band, Byron Lee and the Dragonnaires.
“Byron Lee and the Dragonnaires was an institution that made such an impact on the lives of so many people that Byron’s contribution must be boldly recorded when the history of Jamaican music is being written, Mr. Golding said.
In playing his part to popularize Jamaican music, the Prime Minister said Byron Lee and the Dragonnaires had taken the music to “our living rooms and then to the rest of the world.” He said that even where people did not understand what was being played they were still drawn to the music.
Noting that the band only last year celebrated its 50th anniversary, Mr. Golding said Byron Lee and the Dragaonnaires had entertained, inspired and mesmerized three generations of Jamaicans. He said that in the process, the band had brought Carnival to Jamaica, ” expanding and enriching our music and our culture.”
The Prime Minister said Jamaica was proud “to pay tribute to Mr. Lee for all that he has done for our music and for his powerful fight against cancer.”
The Awards Ceremony was witnessed by a group headed by the Prime Minister and which also included Senator the Honourable Dwight Nelson; Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service; Mrs. Lee; their children and grand children; Mr. Lee’s bothers as well as a number of friends, associates and well wishers.
Popular Gospel songstress, Dr. Carlene Davis sang, “Like Old Friends Do” which was one her big hits recorded at Mr. Lee’s Dynamic Studios and which was produced by Miss Grange.