Fundraising initiatives for dancehall veteran Tiger at the halfway mark
Dancehall Queen Carlene still working to meet target
The expectation of the local entertainment industry is that it will return to some level of normality in the current year as it relates to gathering restrictions and the approval of permits for events. Carlene Smith, known more popularly as Dancehall Queen Carlene, is one of many professionals who has been looking beyond the horizon as the industry awaits the proverbial green light, not only for the staging of events, but for a good cause.
In December last year, she, along with several entertainers, answered the call to provide financial assistance for veteran deejay Tiger, who has been suffering from various medical complications, including a recent stroke that resulted in paralysis of the left side of his body and difficulties with speech.
However, a meet-and-greet benefit event, planned for Boxing Day on December 26 by Dancehall Queen Carlene and Michael Dawson, CEO of Whirlwind Entertainment, which manages the Market Place Entertainment Centre for the Arts (MECA), had to be postponed.
“Unfortunately, at the time, our industry was not being granted the necessary permits to stage an event of that nature; we had to resort to cancelling it, and I say cancel because, at the time, we were not sure when we would be able to host it,” Dancehall Queen Carlene told The Sunday Gleaner.
“An initiative was launched on the Real Helping Hands crowdfunding platform to raise US$8,000, which has reached the halfway mark, but with the therapy Tiger receives weekly, for up to three days, it has been challenging for his family, and they need all the help we can give,” she said.
“With us seeing the green light, or more so amber as the industry is moving – slowly but surely, many persons, including myself, are hopeful. This is why I am pushing to have a fundraising event for Tiger in the coming week,” she shared.
With the launch of her latest event project, Dancehall Tuesdays, which first took place on February 22, the dancehall personality and businesswoman has decided to host the meet-and-greet event and fundraiser for Tiger but on a smaller scale. For its second staging, it is dubbed ‘The Tiger Edition’, which is done in collaboration with one of the leaders in sound system and dancehall culture, Stone Love.
“The event is small scale with the entry fee set at $1,000 for men and free for women [a significantly lower admission in comparison to the December event, which was $6,000 for general entry], so while I would love to raise a lot, I know it won’t, based on the gathering restrictions. Persons will have the option to donate while at the event, and the Real Helping Hands platform is still open,” said Dancehall Queen Carlene, who has known Tiger since 1984 and calls him family.
She added, “Personally, I have been seeing results; Tiger has been gaining mobility in his hand and foot after numerous physiotherapy sessions, his speech is so much better, and he could not have gotten there without the donations that helped to pay for all the restorative treatments. And I am grateful because while he is still in recovery mode, Tiger’s spirit has been lifted, and he feels strong enough that he insists on being present for the event next Tuesday (March 1).”
A front runner of ’90s dancehall, Tiger was forced into early retirement due to the state of his health following a near-fatal accident in 1994 during the peak of his career, but help was limited. According to Dancehall Queen Carlene, there was probably one organisation that could have assisted at the time, “But I am not sure it exists, and that opens a conversation for what needs to be established to help our veterans like Tiger who have contributed to our culture and whose music still has a wide impact.”
“Anyone who can help, if it means having their own fundraising event or initiatives, we welcome it but at the same time, abiding by the rules and following protocols which can only show the level of responsibility and discipline of the entertainment industry as a whole,” she continued.
Tiger recorded a stream of hits, including Me Name Tiger in 1986, Ram Dancehall in 1989 and Touch Is A Move in 1990, and the 1993 album titled Claws of the Cat. The album was released successfully with the creative contribution of several renowned names in reggae and dancehall production, including Dave Kelly, who produced All Out for the Killing and Nobody Move. Sly Dunbar co-produced Just Look and the dynamic duo Wycliffe Johnson and Cleveland Brown, known widely as Steely and Clevie, with Chaos.
“He did not get to show his full potential as an entertainer, and while we know one cannot be a dancehall artiste all their lives, Tiger was not able to get up and do something else. Remember, he wasn’t retired, but his career was cut short… 28 years is a long time to be out of commission,” she said.
“I’m happy and hopeful because, although the recording part of his career was not as long as some of the other acts who emerged during that era, his reign was influential, and I see it in the way his colleagues have reached out. Richie Stephens, Flourgon, Buju Banton, Admiral Bailey, Mr G and Don Mafia have all reached out, pledging their support in different ways. Also, females like D’Angel, Pamputtae and Macka Diamond and I thank each and everyone who has called or messaged me, and those who will do so,” Dancehall Queen Carlene continued.