Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange a mother and ‘a real general’
(For this special Mother’s Day which is being celebrated during the year of Jamaica 60, the Entertainment Desk is featuring some of the women who have made outstanding contributions to the fields of music and culture.)
There’s no business like show business. Just ask former artiste manager, Spec-Shang executive, event planner and supporter and promoter of Jamaica’s creative and cultural industries, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange.
The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport has been there, done that and continues to do just that. On her fantastic journey, Grange – whose commitment to and love for culture and music is unchallenged – has made friends, supporters, admirers and ‘sons and daughters’ who definitely outweigh her foes.
For Mother’s Day, The Sunday Gleaner spoke to ace legendary sound system selector and marching band aficionado Ricky Trooper, who hailed Babsy as a real trooper.
“When it come to Babsy, is like she is mi second mother. Not only inna the dancehall but in the marching band world. True she cultural, Minister Grange always deh deh fi we. Any problem we having with uniform, equipment, anything at all, we call on her and she solve them. Everybody inna di marching band world have her as we mother.
“And in the sound system world, me is a man who have a lot of grouse and Babsy always listen. Me approach her three years ago with an idea to have a Echoes of Sound System event during Reggae Month and she never hitch. Then she ask, ‘Trooper, what else yuh want?’ And mi tell her that some of the man dem like Peter Metro, Burro Banton, Little John deserve an award fi dem years in the business and the minister never hitch again. Inna di sound system world, she a our mother same way.
“To the way how me love that lady and have her in high esteem, not even she being JLP and me being PNP can stop that. She call me her son. Me wish her long life and pure blessings. When mi think of her stepping down from that role, mi nah lie, tears come a mi eye. Mi love her bad. She is a real general. Happy Mother’s Day Babsy.”
Selector Sky Juice also had his say. “I have to big up Miss Babsy Grange. Is she take me and give me legend selector, so I respect that lady to the max. God go with her and I love her.”
On her birthday on April 27, Bounty Killer showered his former manager with love.
“Gwaan Aunty Babsy... salute ... earth blessings pon blessings Jamaica’s finest culture, sports and entertainment minister, period. u had never neglect culture u held it up in high esteem, We Love You,” Bounty wrote on social media.
It was in the early ‘90s that Grange and Clifton ‘Specialist’ Dillon helmed Spec-Shang and steered the careers of artistes such as Shabba Ranks, Patra, Mad Cobra, Carlene Davis, Junior Gong and Richie Stephens. Under their management, Shabba Ranks became the first dancehall act to win the Grammy for Best Reggae Album.
In 2015, the Jamaican Government awarded Grange the Order of Distinction for her contributions to the development of music and culture. One of the many feathers in her cap is reggae music being inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Grange’s former business partner, Dillon, told The Sunday Gleaner: “While I wish all mothers Happy Mother’s Day, I would like to send a special greeting to one of the great mothers of our nation, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange.”