This one is very special to me – Freddie McGregor
Veteran performer grateful for local honour; Charles Town Maroons to continue ‘vital’ work
The Charles Town Maroon community is vowing to continue its vital work in preserving Jamaica’s history, art and culture. The group was presented with its RJRGLEANER Honour Award at a ceremony on Tuesday at Television Jamaica’s Lyndhurst Road studio.
“Our culture is very important, our ‘foreparents’ have done a marvellous job of passing down to each generation the history through parables, in games, drumming, dancing and songs. It is vital that we continue this work so this and other generations know the story of our town, their heritage and their own lives,” Acting Colonel Marcia Douglas told The Gleaner at the event.
In the preservation of Jamaican history, the group has established a museum, guided tours, and cultural enrichment programmes. Douglas resolves that through these mediums they are upholding their duty as Maroons.
“We teach the history so that people can know more – people from across the globe visit us to learn more about our way of life and immerse themselves in what it means to be a Maroon.” Their flagship event, the annual International Charles Town Maroon Conference and Festival, conceptualised in 2005, is intended to provide a platform for persons to experience the Maroon culture in Charles Town. The conference is also a celebration of ancestor Quao, the Maroon who signed the peace treaty with the British.
Demonstrating unshakable commitment, Douglas and Captain Rodney Rose proudly shared that it is their distinct honour to ensure that the legacy of the Maroon people endures for generations to come.
Also acknowledged at the event was Freddie McGregor, who received the Entertainment Lifetime Achievement Award. Though not physically present to collect his award, McGregor expressed gratitude via video. “I wish I was there in person to receive this one but circumstances beyond my control force me not to be; however I want to thank the RJRGLEANER Communications Group for keeping us on the forefront all these years as we represent our country, our music and our culture,” said McGregor.
He said the local award was of special significance. “I want to say a very special thanks on behalf of myself, my family and the entire Big Ship team to the RJRGLEANER Communications Group for honouring me this evening. This year I’ve gotten quite a number of awards but none nicer than the one you get from home, and tonight this one is very special to me.”
For decades, McGregor has thrilled fans with classics such as Big Ship, I See It In You, Prophecy, Push Come To Shove, Let Him Try and I Will Wait For You. He was born on June 27, 1956, in Hayes, Clarendon, and his music career started when he was seven years old. In 2003, he was conferred with the Order of Distinction by the Jamaican Government, for his contribution to music.
In recovery mode following a stroke in November last year while in Florida, he has gone on to perform at Far East Reggae Cruise and Reggae Sumfest, where he was presented with the Red Stripe Living Legend award by the popular beer brand.
Charles Town in Portland is one of five remaining major Maroon settlements in Jamaica, the others being Accompong Town in St Elizabeth, Moore Town in Portland, Scotts Hall in St Mary, and Flagstaff in St James. It was named for Governor Charles Knowles in 1754, 16 years after the treaty of peace and friendship was signed between the Windward Maroons and the British, and was established on 206½ acres of land, purchased from one Colin McKenzie.
The Charles Town Drummers, Singers and Dancers are well known for their performances at events such as the annual Emancipation Vigil in St Ann and the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival in St Andrew, and, of course, the annual events in the other Maroon villages.
For the past forty-three years, the RJRGLEANER Honour Awards has recognised stalwarts who have made and continue to make significant strides in improving the quality of life of Jamaicans across various sectors. Tuesday’s event recognised 11 recipients and featured performances by Av&nte and Wai Fuzion, who sang McGregor’s greatest hits, and rising performer Joby Jay. The Mico University College received the 2022 RJRGLEANER Platinum Award.