By all accounts, the Salute to the Foundation staged by The Coalition to Preserve Reggae Music (CPR) at Reggae Culture Salute 2010 was an enormous success. Following the event, various publications including Billboard Biz and Jamaica Observer lauded CPR for its celebration of Ernie Smith and Big Youth who received proclamations from the United States Congress and certificates of recognition from David Patterson, Governor of the state of New York. In addition, Ernie Smith received CPR’s Pinnacle Award for Excellence in recognition of more than 40 years of outstanding work. From the perspective of patrons, a measure of the events success can be seen in the number of Facebook profile pictures showing poses struck at the event with the featured artists. According to Carlyle McKetty, President of CPR, who showed his musical prowess by jamming on stage with Anthem Band, to the delight of everyone present, “This was simply an amazing event…I am humbled by the tremendous feedback we have received both during and after the event.” Despite the fact that there was another event with a similar name and theme occurring only blocks away, Reggae Culture Salute 2010 turned out to be the “big show for the fall.” “Simply put, this event was historic,” stated Garvin Gray, a member of the CPR Board of Directors.
Based on the numerous phone calls and emails received by the organization, it appears that many who gathered at the Nazareth Regional High School on Saturday, October 30th for the event, concur. “The feedback in the street has been overwhelmingly positive,” says radio broadcaster and sound system selector, Bobby Channel One, who along with Sir Tommy, kept the “strictly vinyl” vibes flowing during the evening. After telling his audience that the show got great reviews from all quarters, Carl B. Moxie, host of the Wake Up Radio program heard on WVIP (93. 5 FM) was told “You missed an awesome show, Uncle CarI, I learned so much,” by a caller. The caller, unable to contain her excitement, went on to inform how wonderful the drummers were, and she continued, “It was just a decent show, a show for everybody, you could have taken your children there; and it was very educational, it was well put together… and there was a lot of white people there too…
The accolades came from the artists as well. Ernie Smith was visibly moved when he received the Pinnacle Award for his more than 40 years of contribution to Jamaican music. While performing with his group, Ancient Vibrations, master drummer Junior Wedderburn, who took time off from the Broadway production of the Lion King to participate, spoke of the importance of retaining this rich culture and passing it on to the next generation and in a letter afterwards, thanked the organization for “the opportunity to participate in such an important event.” He went on to say in his letter, “We are impressed by the standard of professionalism at which the evening was presented and feel that the goal as expressed by you was definitely met.” Japanese DJ, Nahki, who also sent the organization a letter of thanks, wrote “…I really believe that effort like yours can find the way to make Reggae live on just like Jazz which is 30 years older than Reggae.”
In addition to honoring Ernie Smith and Big Youth, the evening paid tribute to Sugar Minott and Gregory Isaacs with performances by Mikey Jarrett, Tony Tuff and Nahki which had the artists and the audience caught up in the rapture of the moment. By the time, Ernie Smith took the stage, everyone was on their feet and there was no turning back. When Big Youth came on stage chanting the words of I Pray Thee, the audience was in an uproar and Big Youth did not disappoint. Big Youth was joined on stage by his son, Tafari who shared in two songs.
The sixth annual Reggae Culture Salute was well received by all who attended. “It was like being in church,” said Russell Morgan. “I cried and sang along to every track. Big Youth was awesome. He took me back to my youth!” It was a while before folks began to disperse as patrons stood around chatting, taking pictures and sharing with each other about their favorite part of the show.
Reggae Culture Salute is held each year to commemorate the anniversary of the November 2, 1930 coronation of His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia and Empress Mennen, honors the unique relationship between reggae, rasta, Selassie and Jamaica. The event is produced by TSO Productions LLC.