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Wreath-laying, Reggae Wednesday to mark 66th anniversary of Dennis Brown’s birth

Published:Tuesday | January 31, 2023 | 1:27 AMAaliyah Cunningham/Gleaner Writer
Dennis Brown
Dennis Brown



Ewan 
Simpson
Ewan Simpson
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Wednesday, February 1, will mark the 66th anniversary of the birthday of Crown Prince of Reggae, Dennis Brown. For his contribution to the development of reggae music worldwide, the singer, who is often described as a man of the people, is being commemorated as a part of the 2023 Reggae Month celebrations.

Joseph Junior Lincoln, chairman of the Dennis Brown Foundation and Trust, has fond memories of Brown.

“The beautiful thing about this [is] that when the question is asked, ‘What makes Dennis Brown the people’s artiste?’, wherever you go in the world and anyone you ask, you will get the same answer. That shows a certain genuineness and that it is the truth. Dennis Brown is one of the nicest human beings you would have met in your life. His love and kindness are second to none. He would give away everything that he has to satisfy another human being. His humility was immense. For the ability of Dennis Brown, and the level of star that he was, he was the humblest human being that you could find and many artistes could use a page out of his book. So, with all of that, the human being that he was outside of the great singer, was why people loved him so much,” said Lincoln.

Brown, who passed in 1999 at age 42, left behind some of the all-time greatest reggae hits including Here I Come, Money In My Pocket, Revolution and Promise Land. But according to Lincoln, he was more than just a great singer.

“I have known Dennis from he was a little boy. I was living in England at the time. I moved there pretty early and I was one of the pioneers of reggae music there. I was producing and releasing records and promoting shows as early as the 1960s. I released Dennis Brown’s first song, not the first song recorded but the first one released – No Man is an Island. It was released by Studio One and I represented Studio One in England and Europe. I was like a father figure for him. He actually met his wife in my record shop. Since that time to now, this is one of the reasons I dedicated my life to this human being to making sure his name is still out there. He is a principled human being,” Lincoln reminisced.

KEEPING HIS NAME ALIVE

On Wednesday, a gathering will be held to commemorate the 66th birthday anniversary of Dennis Brown at his tomb at the National Heroes Park. The event is to be hosted by Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange.

The first Reggae Wednesday to be held in Emancipation Park is also being hosted in his honour.

“We are doing our first Reggae Wednesday on the first which is the birthday of the Crown Prince. We will be having tributes from various artistes including George Nooks, Christopher Martin, Miguel and some emerging acts as well. So, we are having that kind of tribute. We intend to present Dennis Brown songs along with originals songs from the artistes in a solid tribute to Dennis Brown,” said Ewan Simpson, chairman of Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA).

“We do it every year because we must not forget the value of the work that Dennis Brown brought to reggae. Not just his body of music, but he was one of our most loved stars, one of our humblest stars. One of the things he said was ‘it is nice to be important but it is important to be nice’ and he was one of those people who from a tender age was contributing to huge body of work in Jamaican music, so we have to celebrate him just as much as we celebrate the King, Bob Marley and others,” he continued.

Nevertheless, while these local celebrations are in the pipeline, Lincoln is hoping to bring back what he says is a concert that reflects the true nature of the Crown Prince.

“We are still trying to do the major event for Reggae Month for years which is the Dennis Brown Tribute Concert on the waterfront but that is not confirmed as yet, we are still trying to achieve that because we would love to have it at the end of the month as that is something the John Public enjoys over the years. Dennis Brown was solely the people’s artiste because of how he used to interact with the general public and that is why over the years the trust has not charged a fee for the concert. If we are reflecting Dennis Brown, he would not have wanted that. We are having challenges with sponsors and there is the kind of support that is necessary to continue this premier free event that attracts thousands of people,” Lincoln reasoned.

The event was last held in 2020.

aaliyah.cunningham@gleanerjm.com