Summerfest Productions, organizers of Reggae Sumfest have dedicated Dancehall Night to the memory of the late O’Neil Edwards, former member of Dancehall group Voicemail.
The energetic and colourful O’Neil passed away on Wednesday, May 26, two weeks after falling victim to a vicious assault by gunmen at his home. The Reggae Sumfest team felt it was a fitting tribute to a man whose music has played a key role in the maintenance of the flair, fun, and finesse of the dancehall culture.
“It is appropriate to honour a vibrant personality that was loved in the music business,” explains Johnny Gourzong, Executive Director of Reggae Sumfest. “The Voicemail group has brought the fun factor in the music, and O’Neil was a key element in this regard. He was loved and respected by fans, fellow artistes, promoters and just about everybody in the business, so we will honour his memory with this dedication.”
Voicemail will be performing on Dancehall Night Thursday, July 22. The remaining group members Jerome “Craig” Jackson and Kevin Blair expressed gratitude for the gesture made by Reggae Sumfest and promised a fitting tribute performance. Speaking on their behalf, Craig stated their appreciation.
“It’s a very good gesture,” he noted. “We support the move and are pleased. I think O’Neil would be very happy for something like this so I guess he is where he is now smiling and giving us support.”
Craig and Kevin have planned a special tribute performance in memory of their fallen comrade. They intend to include the single Praise His Name written by the group before O’Neil’s untimely passing. As Craig remarked, the Reggae Sumfest dedication is another sign of Jamaica’s love for the group and what they represent.
“Personally we’re overwhelmed right now…I knew that Voicemail was loved but never knew we were loved like this. If there was any thought of ending the group Voicemail, this would be inspiration for us to continue – not that there was any, but if there were, that alone would convince us that the journey should continue…best thing to do is to be strong and continue to do what he would have wanted and what he would have done.”
O’Neil Edwards was shot on May 10 at his Duhaney Park home in, St Andrew, and succumbed to his injuries 16 days later. He died just three weeks after his 35th birthday. He’s survived by his then six-week-old daughter, girlfriend, mother, five sisters and four brothers.
Voicemail will perform on Dancehall Night, joining a list that includes Bounty Killer, Mavado, Elephant Man, Vybz Kartel, Tifa, Cecile, and Stacious. Reggae Sumfest continues the following night with International Night One and will feature International recording artist Chris Brown as well as Queen Ifrica, Jah Cure, & Gyptian. International Night two brings to the Sumfest stage mega platinum sensation Usher, Shaggy, Beenie Man, Tarrus Riley & Gramps Morgan.
Tickets for the Beach Party on Saturday, July 17 are available for $1500. Tickets for dancehall night (Thursday, July 22) cost $2800 presold and $3000 at the gate, and for International Night one and two (Friday, July 23 and Saturday, July 24), advance tickets cost $4700 and $5000 at the gate.
In Montego Bay, tickets are available at El Paso Records, Pier One, Fairview Texaco, Fontana Pharmacy, Wexford Hotel, Pier One, Mobay Proper Ltd. and Parkway Supermarket. In Kingston, they’re available at York Pharmacy, LG Service Centre, Rory’s Texaco, Acropolis and Sportsmax Zone. In Ocho Rios they’re available at Pierview Vacation Inn, in Negril at Times Square Shopping Mall, in Portmore at Travel Mania, and in Mandeville at Fontana Pharmacy.