Saturday’s staging of the ninth annual Reggae Culture Salute at Nazareth High School was an overwhelming success. A patron commented that, “I had a grand time on Saturday. The ‘Pre-ordered’ vibes were just right. The music was divine, the food delicious and the performances stellar.”
The headliner of the evening, Etana “The Strong One, was simply phenomenal.”What a voice?” was the comment heard from so many, “I never knew she could sing or perform like that!” “She was like a breath of fresh air,” others added. Etana worked the stage with such poise and such elegance as she moved from one hit song to the next. She deftly interspersed songs from her new album, Better Tomorrow now out on VP Records. The audience could not get enough of her. Notably, there were many children in the audience and many patrons commented on the family friendly nature of the event and the great exposure it provided for the children.
It was also Freddie McGregor’s night as he was recognized for his 50 years of service to Reggae and Jamaican culture on a whole. Freddie was quite emotional as he accepted CPR’s Pinnacle Award for Excellence and went to congratulate the organization on their efforts in preserving reggae music. “If I was not being awarded tonight, I would still make an effort to be here to celebrate with CPR,” said an emotional McGregor. His duet with Etana, a rendition of the classic, “Let It Be Me, “was “magical” and brought the house down.
Congress Woman Yvette Clarke appeared right in the nick of time to surprise not only Freddie McGregor as he was being awarded but also everyone present. According to Sharon Gordon, “Congress Woman Clarke has never missed an award ceremony at Reggae Culture Salute and tonight is no different.”
Clarke congratulated CPR and all the honorees for their dedication to preserving Jamaican culture. Also in the house was Derron McCreath of the Jamaican Consulate representing the government of Jamaica. His speech was obviously heartfelt and resonated with everyone in the packed performance space. Council Man Jumaane Williams was also on hand and spoke with pride of his support for CPR and how “happy” he was “that Reggae Culture Salute happens in his district each year.” “CPR brings quality entertainment to our district each year and we must support them in their efforts to preserve reggae music.” Congrats to videographer, David Curtin and Mrs. Pat Chin of VP Records who were awarded for their dedication to reggae music and their support of CPR.
Throughout the evening, patrons kept singing the praises of the CPR artist showcase. “Michibella is a star,” said patron, Sonia Thomas. Don Minott had the crowd rocking and DJ Yanks delivered a solid set. Dub poet, Ras Osagyefo brought the house down as did Sister Shawnee who danced to the drumming of her two sons in tribute to Emperor Haile Selassie I and Empress Menen of Ethiopia on the occasion of the 83rd Anniversary of their coronation.
According to an ecstatic patron, “All the artist gave outstanding sets, but I was most impressed with how well Uwe Banton Schäfer was received as he performed for the first time in the ‘15th parish of Jamaica,’ known as Brooklyn, to a new audience.” His music and message resonated and was evident by the “irie” reception he received.” CPR did a fantastic job in putting together a very remarkable and memorable evening. The evening was stitched together like a beautiful quilt made by very loving hands and greatly appreciated by the diverse audience which reflected the scope of CPR’s reach. The tenth annual Reggae Culture Salute is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 1 2014 at Nazareth. For information on Coalition to Preserve Reggae, go to their website, www.cprreggae.org.