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A tribute of dignity – Kingsley Goodison recognises J'can, int'l music contribution

Jamaica Gleaner / Kingsley Goodison’s stint at Studio One with the late Clement Dodd, carried him through the period of work for hire, when musicians and performers were paid a flat fee for a recording, to the legal changes in the 1990s which enabled them to collect the royalty payments they were due. In handing over the money, Goodison insisted on a system that not only ensured there was a record, but gave the recipient a sense of dignity.

“I then instituted that the artistes be paid by cheque. My reasoning is, a man getting a cheque with his name on it and that man go to the bank with his ID to change it, it give him a sense of upliftment and importance,” Goodison told The Sunday Gleaner. Although the distribution of royalty payments by Studio One and the starting of Tribute to the Greats, which was started in 1998 and marked its 20th anniversary in 2017, are not connected, the principles of attaching a name to achievement and generating a sense of dignity were consistent.

Goodison runs Tribute to the Greats, through King Omar Productions, family members among those integral to staging the awards annually. With its three components, Goodison asserts, “never in the history of Jamaica have you ever had a show like that, in terms of the awards, the stage show and the dance.” Initially a concert was not planned, Goodison saying that it was singer Stranger Cole, who prompted the change, telling Goodison, “the artistes you are honouring will want to give back something.” They have, as Goodison said most of the performers who attend the awards want to go on stage.

Among the first set of awardees were trumpeter Johnny ‘Dizzy’ Moore, guitarist Jerome ‘Jah Jerry’ Haynes and the duo Bunny and Scully, all of who are now deceased. The honorees have varied among the very well known to publicly low-key figures who have played an important role in the development of Jamaican popular music. So in 2000 ,Prince Buster and U Roy were honoured, but so were Heppo and Combie. Lord Creator is a name from the 2004 batch that chances are would be familiar to many persons from his songs like Kingston Town, while Jimmy ‘Doo Roy’ Vassel was also duly honoured.

The spread of Jamaican popular music abroad, as well as the input of foreigners into the Jamaican sound have been acknowledged with the various connection stagings of Tribute to the Greats, including the British, Caribbean, Australian and American-Jamaican. The Chinese-Jamaican Connection has also been acknowledged.

Initially, financing Tribute to the Greats came from Goodison’s personal funds.

“I did not know about sponsorship in those days. Later the CHASE Fund made a significant input, with KOOL FM and Nubian Construction Limited, also having strong input. With the 21st staging slated for 2018, Goodison is considering adding an exhibition to Tribute to the Greats. And the event would remain as it has always been, a place for reunion and celebration.

“It is nostalgic family entertainment, people use it as a meeting ground. They fly in from London, Miami, Atlanta,” Goodison said.

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