Sun | Sep 24, 2023

‘Celebrating Jamaica 61’ with music that ‘will not expire’

Tad’s Records to release commemorative album

Published:Friday | June 9, 2023 | 1:05 AMYasmine Peru/Senior Gleaner Writer
Richie Spice
Richie Spice
‘Celebrating Jamaica 61’, the reggae album from Tad Dawkins paying tribute to Jamaica’s 61st year of Independence.
‘Celebrating Jamaica 61’, the reggae album from Tad Dawkins paying tribute to Jamaica’s 61st year of Independence.
Tad Dawkins
Tad Dawkins
Big Youth
Big Youth
Dean  Fraser
Dean Fraser

Eleven years after the release of his successful Jamaica 50 compilation, Tad Dawkins, founder and head of Tad’s Records, has assembled an eclectic array of artistes for his reggae album in tribute to Jamaica’s 61st year of Independence.

Titled Celebrating Jamaica 61, the project was initially scheduled for release during the island’s big hurrah in 2022, but, coming out of the pandemic, the label head shared that he needed a tad bit more time.

“The time didn’t permit us to put this album out last year, but it’s important that we do this commemorative project that will show our rich musical heritage. The cover features all the national heroes and the artistes were carefully selected for this album,” Dawkins said.

“We are going to be promoting it especially in the diaspora for that crowd … they are patriotic and love and support the music and the things that tie them to Jamaica.”

Featured artistes on Celebrating Jamaica 61 include Dean Fraser, Hezron, Big Youth, Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Richie Spice, Dwayne Stephenson, Glen Washington, Josey Wales, Jessie Royal, Chevaughn, Kelly Shane, Caryl Jacobs, Screwdriver, Brigadier Jerry, Big Mountain, Terry Linen, Sister Carol, Chezidek, and George Nooks.

Dawkins added that Jamaica 50th: Then and Now “was very well received” and even now enjoys consistent sales from digital downloads.

Already, Belafonte Rock, the Dean Fraser track from Celebrating Jamaica 61, has hit the airwaves, and Dawkins is getting loads of positive feedback.

“Because Harry Belafonte just died, we decided to pay tribute to him,” he shared.

Giving kudos to both Belafonte – who popularised calypso music with international audiences in the 1950s – and Fraser, Dawkins stated, “Dean is one of the top five saxophonists in the world, therefore, who better to pay tribute to a great son of the soil like Belafonte? I just finish up a dub album with Dean and that is due out March 2024. We put out an album with Dean every two years to showcase him. He is responsible for 70 per cent of the reggae music out of Jamaica.”

Harry Belafonte, the singer, actor, and activist, whose mother was Jamaican, died on April 25 at age 96. On Belafonte Rock, Fraser naturally starts off with Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) and blows up a sprightly storm on a medley that includes Cocoanut Woman, Island in the Sun and Jamaica Farewell, all mega hits from Belafonte’s catalogue.

“We chose the songs that Harry Belafonte wrote and made famous. Legend has it that for Day-O the idea was given to him by Miss Lou. She give him that and he took it from there and ran with it,” Dawkins said.

Acknowledged as a traditional Jamaican folk song, sates that the first recording of The Banana Boat Song was made by in 1952 by Trinidadian group Edric Connor and the Caribbeans. It was later covered by Louise ‘Miss Lou’ Bennett and in 1955 the lyrics were rewritten for Belafonte by Lord Burgess and William Attaway, when he was appeared on the Colgate Comedy Hour. The audience reportedly loved the catchy, upbeat tune and Belafonte recorded it for his 1956 album, Calypso, the first album to sell one million copies.

“Just like that song, the music that we do must stand the test of time,” Dawkins emphasised. “That’s why we stick to the one drop reggae. The new sound … I don’t see the longevity. The one drop reggae is still standing, and it is firm internationally. The one drop reggae ... that will not expire.”

Celebrating Jamaica 61, the full album will be released on July 28. On August 6, 2023, Jamaica will celebrate 61 years of Independence.