The usual Independence Day Grand Gala, where thousands of persons would gather at the National Stadium decked out in the colours of the Jamaican flag – black, green and gold – to celebrate the event, was this year replaced with a live televised broadcast, with viewers treated to several performances.
In light of the strict restrictions and protocols to reduce the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the broadcast was done inside the neighbouring National Arena on August 6, to recognise the country’s 58th anniversary of Independence.
The highlight of the event this year was the presentation of Reggae Icon Awards to three Jamaicans – Ken Boothe, Marcia Griffiths and Orville Burrell, who is popularly known as ‘Shaggy’.
Mr. Boothe was born on March 22, 1948, in Denham Town, Kingston. During a career that has spanned five decades, his soulful and distinctive singing voice has been featured on hundreds of ska, rocksteady and reggae recordings.
Ms. Griffiths was also born and raised in Kingston. Her talent was recognised very early by producers, Clement “Coxsone” Dodd and Byron Lee. She began her career in 1964, releasing solo singles. From 1970 to 1974, she worked with Bob Andy in the group Bob and Marcia, on the Harry J label. Between 1974 and 1981, she was a member of the I-Threes, a background group which supported Bob Marley & the Wailers.
She achieved her first Jamaican number one with the rocksteady hit, Feel like Jumping, which, five decades later, remains a favourite among her fans, young and old alike. Her song Electric Boogie, released in 1976 and re-released in 1989, made the ‘electric slide’ an international dance craze. It reached number 51 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it her most successful single. It remains the highest-selling single by a female reggae singer of all time.
Shaggy got his first hit in 1993 with Oh Carolina, a dancehall remake of a ska hit by the Folkes Brothers. The Jamaican reggae musician, singer, DJ, and actor has been nominated for seven Grammy Awards, winning twice for Best Reggae Album with Boombastic in 1996 and 44/876 with Sting in 2019, and won the Brit Award for International Male Solo Artiste in 2002.
He is also widely known for his smash hit singles, It Wasn’t Me and Angel. Both songs topped the Billboard Hot 100 and saw similar success worldwide, reaching number one in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Scotland and France, among other countries.
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange and President of the Senate, Senator, the Hon. Tom Tavares-Finson, presented the awards.
Immediately after accepting her award, Ms. Griffiths said: “To God be the Glory. Thank you Jamaica for the love and support over the years,” which was followed by the fitting performance with her song, I Shall Sing.
“I want to thank the entire world; the people that supported us over the years. Thank you very much,” was the response from Mr. Boothe.
Meanwhile, Shaggy thanked the people of Jamaica. “We are celebrating for culture… . The other two recipients, who are stalwarts, I’m honoured and I’m in good company,” he said.
In addition to the awards, Jamaicans were treated to live performances by Kukudoo, Kemar Highcon, Dre Island, Richie Stephens, Tessanne Chin, Chris Martin, Ms. Griffiths, Mr. Boothe and Kevin Downswell.
The prerecorded arrival of the Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen; Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, and Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Peter Phillips, for a Flag-raising Ceremony at the same venue earlier, was shown during the broadcast.
There was also a prerecorded performance by the 2020 Jamaica Festival Song Competition Winner, Buju Banton.