Ernie Smith To Receive Pinnacle Award, October 30, 2010

On Saturday, October 30, 2010, the Coalition to Preserve Reggae Music (CPR) will present reggae veteran Ernie Smith with the Pinnacle Award, its highest honor for an artist when he performs at this year’s staging of its annual Reggae Culture Salute, taking place in Brooklyn, New York. Ernie Smith, whose recording career began in 1967 with his recording of his composition I Can’t Take It, is celebrating the re-release of a new album, Country Mile in this, his 43rd year in the business.

During the first five years of his career, the composer, lyricist and singer developed an enviable track record of delivering hit recordings which catapulted him to becoming one of the most prolific singer/songwriters in Jamaica. These recordings included such compositions as Bend Down, Pitta Patta, One Dream and Ride on Sammy which today remain highly acclaimed in the pantheon of reggae hit recordings. In 1972, he arrived at a major plateau in his budding career when he bested more than 4,000 competitors from around the world to win the Yamaha World Music Festival in Tokyo Japan with his composition, Life is Just for Living, a feat which gained him international recognition and is credited with introducing Jamaican music to Japan.

Still basking in the glow of his Japan success, Ernie Smith went on in 1973 to make several international appearances including Madison Square Garden in New York and returned home to be awarded by the Jamaican government with the Badge of Honor, becoming the first popular musician to be so honored. The following year his composition, Play di Music, performed by Tinga Stewart won the Jamaican Festival Song competition, but two years later, his highly acclaimed recording, Power and the Glory, which raised questions about the nation’s development declaring “as we fight one another for the power and the glory, the kingdom goes to waste” caused him great strife, such that he thought it best to migrate to a safer environment.

Ernie Smith continued performing and recording from his adopted home in Toronto, Canada, where he is credited with bringing reggae to mainstream Canada before his 1988 return to living in Jamaica where he received the Independence Award in 2001, the Musgrave Medal in 2003 and the Order of Distinction in 2006, in recognition of his life’s work.

Ernie Smith is best known for reggae music but his talents are far flung. His love of country music is reflected in his recordings of several country hits including Chris Christopherson’s perennial favorite, Sunday Morning.  He has also composed and recorded gospel music and his 1975 recording All for Jesus was included in the Caribbean School Hymnal in 2005 and in the Church of England (Episcopal/Anglican) Hymnal in 2010.  

At Reggae Culture Salute, Ernie Smith will join other artists, including DJ Nahki of Japan in paying tribute to the late Sugar Minott who followed Ernie Smith’s path to become wildly popular in Japan. Other artists appearing at Reggae Culture salute include Big Youth, Tony Tuff, Mystic Bowie, Ancient Vibrations, Douglas Guthrie and Anthem Band.

Reggae Culture Salute marks the anniversary of the Coronation of his Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia and Empress Mennen on November 2nd 1930 and celebrates the unique relationship between reggae, Rasta, Selassie and Jamaica and the Pinnacle Award is named for the Rasta community of Pinnacle in St Catherine, Jamaica.