Kudos for Red Rose for Gregory
Deneice Williams came, saw and conquered, prime time emcee Richie B stated confidently as he took to the stage right after the Grammy award winning vocalist’s outstanding performance at Red Rose for Gregory, on Saturday night at the Liguanea Golf Academy in New Kingston. And the full house agreed with him, so much so that she was called on for an encore.
For this, Williams ended as she had started her hour long sojourn, with praise. Her intro was an amazing a cappella rendition of God is Truly Amazing, followed by a stellar run of hit songs, seasoned with titbits of her life experiences. Williams offered nuggets of wisdom as she shared the story behind the massive hit song, Black Butterfly, which her manager didn’t like and which almost never was. “The man is the head,” she said, “but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head wherever she wants it. So I went and complained to his wife,” she said triumphantly. The rest, as they say, is history.
Williams didn’t just sing the big songs expected of her, she ‘introed’ them in the most memorable way. Before unleashing Let’s Hear It For The Boys she asked the good men to raise their hands, and for those who didn’t, she stated conspiratorially, “But, we like the bad boys too.” And she then told the story of “a guy who raised his hand at a concert just like this”. She couldn’t see him, but nonetheless, she told him to put down his hand as he “ain’t no good guy”. After the show, she was informed that the man was actually Bobby Brown, the ex husband of Whitney Houston.
One of the songs that everybody seemed to be waiting on was Love Stop Making A Fool Of Me, and veteran toaster, Big Youth, who gave an awesome performance at Reggae Wednesdays last week, commented with satisfaction, “Hear the big chune yah now!” Williams brought the curtains down on her show showering praises on her God-fearing grandmother, who instilled in her “the fear of God and the love of Jesus that kept me from a lot of stuff in the music business”.
She shared with The Gleaner post-performance that she would loved to have seen Rita Marley. “I was asking about Rita today because I used to hang out a lot with them [Bob and Rita] when we used to do Reggae Sunsplash years ago. I would really like to get a hug from her.” However, she made sure to hug Julian Marley, who was backstage.
Dressed in a white suit trimmed with red, matching white shirt and a pair of spanking new pearl coloured shoes, Sanchez crooned his way on to centre stage at 1:25 am. He needs a whole new lexicon to describe his performance. Think about the most complimentary and descriptive adjectives and they have already been used, time and again. However, as commanding as his performance was, there was one element that outshone him on Saturday night – the audience. It was fascinating to see their reaction. They inched closer to the stage, cell phones capturing the moment as they sang along. The women swooned and one even held a chair in her arms and danced. One In A Million, You’re Not Alone, Wild Sanchez, Lonely (wont leave me alone) and Missing You, all hit the intended target, and at 1:45 am, he did Night Nurse, a tribute to Gregory Isaacs, the Cool Ruler, in whose honour the event was being staged. Like Deniece Williams, he took them to church with a rousing gospel segment.
Grammy nominated Third World, was a live wire, delivering songs such as Committed, 96 Degrees in the Shade, Try Jah Love and Always Around, which One Third joined them on, in tribute to late Third World member, Bunny Ruggs. Haunting melodies floated through the venue as Cat Coore played Bob Marley’s Redemption Song and the audience turned into a choir to sing the chorus. Of note too, was AJ Brown’s signature song, When You Love.
Vocal group, The Melodians, who have not touched a local stage in close to three decades, looked slick in red and white, and while they gave many favourites, their set would have been better had it been shorter. Junior Sinclair, Georgina Henry, Knolij Tafari, 16-year-old Jace, from Florida and Zakious aka Mr Cooper, all gave good accounts of themselves. So too did Colleen Douglas, who had to start the show, as the early segment emcee arrived late. Kudos, too to the production team for a job well done.
Promoter, June Isaacs, told The Gleaner that she was pleased with the turnout and the performances, while June “Junie Star” Hayles, a member of the organising team, disclosed that the headline act for the 2021 staging has already been confirmed. The Gregory Isaacs Foundation is the beneficiary of the concert.