The wait is over

Observer writer

Friday, March 15, 2019

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With less than 24 hours before Buju Banton's first major performance since his release from prison in December, the deejay's mentor, Donovan Germain, says he is in high spirits.

“He is looking forward to it (the concert). He is in good spirits and excited to interact with those who support him,” said Germain, who spoke with the Jamaica Observer's Splash Wednesday, after final rehearsals.

The head of Penthouse Records gave the rehearsal sessions a thumbs-up.

“The rehearsals have gone exceptionally well. We rehearsed for four hours, four days a week. Now, he'll be taking the rest of the time to get the rest he needs,” said Germain.

Buju Banton will headline the show, dubbed Long Walk to Freedom, at the National Stadium in Kingston.

Chronixx, Etana, Cocoa Tea, Delly Ranx, Romain Virgo, Ghost, Agent Sasco, LUST and Buju's son, Jahzeil, are also billed to perform.

Germain is founder of Penthouse Records, which was pivotal to dancehall music's international appeal in the 1990s when it released countless hit songs by Buju Banton, Beres Hammond, Marcia Griffiths, Garnett Silk and Wayne Wonder.

Buju Banton joined Penthouse Records' roster in 1991. That partnership yielded songs like Browning, Bogle, Love How the Gal Dem Flex, and Love Black Woman. His last concert was held on January 16, 2011 to a sold-out crowd in Miami, during his trial in the United States on drug charges.

Despite being absent from the stage for nearly 10 years, Germain said Buju shows no signs of nervousness.

“I don't think he is nervous. This is something he has been doing all his life. The people that are there will be fans and well-wishers, so he is excited to connect with them,” he said.

Buju Banton (given name Mark Anthony Myrie) served a near 10-year sentence in the Georgia McRae Correctional Facility in the United States for cocaine-related charges. He was deported to Jamaica on December 7.

His release was widely anticipated, and sparked speculation among fans and music insiders about his career. Comeback shows are also scheduled for Grenada, The Bahamas, Barbados, and Summerjam Festival in Germany.

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