This past weekend, on a cool Sunday afternoon in Miami, Florida, scores of reggae performers including Tarrus Riley, Sean Paul, Gyptian, Nadine Sutherland, Gramps, Freddy McGreggor, Marcia Griffiths, Everton Blender, Stephen & Damien Marley, Shaggy, Wayne Wonder and Richie Loops came together to show love and support for cultural DJ Buju Banton at a benefit reggae concert in his honor billed “Before The Dawn.”
Reggae crooner Gramps, who graced the stage after powerful performances from Nadine Sutherland, Freddy McGregor, Everton Blender and Richie Loops was greeted with thunderous applauds from the chorus of fans who were assembled at the Bayfront Park Amphitheater.
The former football player who is set to make a comeback this year, opened his set with the Morgan Heritage classic “Down By the River” that fans lapped up from start to finish. “Down By The River” made way for the heartfelt “Wash the Tears” from his award winning debut album “Two Sides Of My Heart” Vol 1. He poured his heart into the song, so much so that one fan commented “I can feel his passion, his energy…it is intense.’ He warmed hearts with “Come Back To Bed,” which proved the perfect offering for the many beautiful ladies who howled for more. And more they got as he segued into the all time classic – “She’s Still Loving Me” that struck a responsive chord and proved the perfect offering for the 10,000 plus fans who were at his beck and call. He closed his stint on stage with “The Almighty, a new song that is currently riding high on the charts in Italy and Antigua.
For Gramps, this performance had extra special significance given that it was just about a year ago that he had performed in Miami on Buju’s “Rasta Got Soul” 2009 tour. He came back this time to show support for his friend and what a soirée it was.
The highlight of the night came at the tail end of Buju’s performance when the Gargamel instructed the band to bring it down low so he could have a talk with his fans.
“A dear friend of mine is in the house tonight” Buju said. “I could not do this without calling him on stage. Gramps Morgan where are you?”
Moments later Gramps emerged from backstage for an encore performance with his friend. As the band struck a familiar chord, the two friends sang in unison, “Hallowed be they name…”
They brought the curtain down on the historic concert with the most holy and descriptive passages in the Bible – the 23rd Psalms – that was years ago put to song by the two talented reggae superstars. The song captured the moment and put into words the positive vibes that were flowing through the air. It was poetry…full of passion, heart and devotion.
“When I came on stage and started the song, my eyes became watery and I had to fight back the tears” a visibly shaken Gramps said moments after he exited the stage.
“A few tears came to my eyes when I had a moment to reflect on the magnitude of what had transpired tonight. Buju is my brother and a true friend that I love and respect with all my heart. As Martin Luther once said, The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Be strong my friend! Everything will be alright.”