Yvonne Brown (fourth right), widow of the late reggae singer Dennis Brown, joins members of the Brown family to celebrate the conferment of the Order of Distinction on the Crown Prince. (Photos: Lionel Rookwood)
TWELVE years after his death, the Crown Prince of Reggae, Dennis Emanuel Brown, led the list of honorees from entertainment who received national awards at King’s House yesterday.
Brown, whose posthumous award was accepted by his widow Yvonne, was recognised with the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander (CD) for his contribution to the Jamaican music industry.
Speaking with the Observer following the ceremony, Brown noted that it was a fantastic day for the family. Responding to sentiments from certain quarters that her late husband should have received this honour a long time ago, a gracious Brown noted, “Nothing happens before the time and Dennis is still with us… in spirit.”
Brown, who died at 42 of respiratory ailments, rose to prominence during the 1970s wave of reggae singers that included Marley, whose music introduced the Jamaican genre to listeners worldwide. He released more than 50 albums and a long string of hits, beginning with No Man is an Island, which he recorded in 1969 at the age of 12.
Brown died in 1999 and is interred at National Heroes’ Park in Kingston.
Another giant of the local music industry, Millie Small, was also recognised at the event. She too received the CD for her contribution to the Jamaican music industry. Small, who lives in the United Kingdom, was unable to attend but requested that her award and insignia be received by former Prime Minister Edward Seaga.
Seaga was the minister of culture, and very much involved in the music scene in 1964, when Small’s My Boy Lollipop stormed charts and became an international sensation.
The Jamaican theatre was represented in the list of honorees with technical master George Carter receiving also receiving the CD.
Spartan Health Club’s Mickey Haughton-James was also among the honorees. The name Spartan is immediately associated with international beauty pageants, as local franchise holder for Miss World. Haughton-James noted: “I am humbled and absolutely appreciative of this honour, but must add that Spartan is not just associated with beauty queens but is also the official strength training facility for many of the country’s national sports teams and athletes, starting back in the day with cricketers Michael Holding and Courtney Walsh to current sprinting sensations Bolt and Blake.”
Recording artistes Dobby Dobson and Robbie Lyn were also recognised for their contribution to music. They both received the Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer (OD).
Dobson described the feeling as being bi-polar — elated yet humbled, adding that it is time to recognise those who were at the genesis of the local music industry.
“You can imagine how far up the mountain I’ve been since the PM gave me the call and I still haven’t come down,” said the man who scored hits with songs such as Muriel, Loving Pauper and Wonderful Sound.
“I feel great about the award, the only thing that would have made me feel better is if the award as a blanket one for all the people who participated in the birth and growth of Jamaica’s music,” Dobson said mentioning names such as Sims and Robinson, Jackie Edwards, Lord Tanamo and Laurel Atkins.
Born Highland Ralph Dobson, Dobby began his career in the ’50s and has not looked back since.
Some years ago the singer gave his life to the Lord, he now spends his career recording soulful tracks and gospel songs.
Artist, writer and photographer Sally Henzell was also recognised with the Badge of Honour for Meritorious Service for her contribution to the arts. The adjectives could not stop flowing as she related how she felt, “splendid, magnificent, awesome… all that and more” she gushed, adding that her late husband, film-maker Perry Henzell would have been proud of her.
A story by Richard Johnson