Teach them Silk

Teach them Silk

By Kediesha Perry
Observer writer

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

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NOVLYN “Lovey” Banton — partner of late reggae singer Garnet Silk — is grateful that, after many years, he is being recognised for his contribution to the genre.

“It feels really good. He hasn't been recognised a lot since he died. When he was here, he received more recognition. So, we're really happy. It's not like this happens everyday,” she told the Jamaica Observer.

The Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) last Friday announced that the late singer will be posthumously bestowed the Iconic Artiste in the Music Industry award. Lady G and Shabba Ranks will also be receiving awards in this category.

The ceremony is scheduled for February 25 at Little Theatre in Kingston.

Garnet Silk (given name Garnet Smith) was part of a roots renaissance in the 1990s that also included his close friends Yasus Afari, deejay Tony Rebel and singer Everton Blender. Their rise from the south-central parishes of Clarendon, Manchester and St Elizabeth triggered a Rastafarian revival not seen in reggae since the heady 1970s.

Garnet Silk died on December 9, 1994 in a fire. He was 28 years old.

He recorded hit songs including Mama Africa, Green Line, Love is The Answer, and Kingly Character for different producers. At the time of his death, he was working on a debut album for major label Atlantic Records. That set was eventually released in 2000.

Banton believes that Garnet Silk's music does not get enough airplay. Meanwhile, the singer's daughter, Arrayma Smith, said she does not think the younger generation knows enough about her father's legacy.

“A part of the newer generation needs to be a little more cultured. If you go up to somebody in their 20s and say: “Do you know who Garnet Silk is?” Half of them wouldn't know. I am not satisfied with the amount of exposure young people are getting to him and his legacy. He has contributed greatly to Jamaican music and culture,” the 27-year-old told the Observer.

She is of the opinion that parents and schools should teach children about her father's legacy.

“More parents need to culture their children more about these national icons; those who actually contributed greatly to the industry. Schools need to also play a part in ensuring that children know who these people are,” said Smith.

Banton said she, and his children are currently working on launching the Garnet Silk Foundation.

“We have already registered the foundation. Through it, we will be redistributing music, doing documentaries, and all the work he wanted to do. We'll basically be carrying out all the activities that he would have liked to get done, especially in the community. This will be done islandwide,” said Banton.

No roll-out date was given.

Other JaRIA award recipients include Eric “Monty” Morris, who will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. Trombonist Vin Gordon and drummer Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace are to be lauded for their Exceptional Contribution to the Reggae Industry.

Alvin “GG” Ranglin and Philip “Fatis” Burrell (posthumously) are acknowledged similarly for their work as producers, so too the veteran roots group, Israel Vibration.

Two other persons will be rewarded posthumously. They are Lee Gopthal, a co-founder of British label Trojan Records and Michael “Mikey Faith” Gordon-Martin, owner of the Empire Faith sound system.

The Ray Symbolic sound system, a contemporary of Emperor Faith, is also being honoured.

Musician/producer Wycliffe “Steely” Johnson, who played major roles in dancehall's emergence as an international force during the 1990s, will also be posthumously recognised.

Saxophonist Dean Fraser has been cited for Extraordinary Impact on the Reggae Industry as a mentor to many artistes. Ernest Hoo Kim of Channel One studio fame, and Collin “Bulby” York will receive awards for their work as engineers.

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