BY: ASHELLY SMITH
“There’s a land that I have heard about so far across the sea. To have you on my Dreamland would be like heaven to me.”
Dreamland by Marcia Griffiths was one of the distinguished songs performed at Tribute to Reggae Legends on February 20th at Rose Theatre Hall. ‘Tribute to Reggae Legends’ is a JAMBANA Black History Reggae jam to commemorate legends Bob Marley, Marcia Griffiths, Peter Tosh, Jacob Miller and Burning Spear. In honour of these Reggae icons, Grammy nominee Andrew Tosh, Exco Levi & High Priest, Fujahtive, Nana McLean, Hardcore Band, Alexi Couto, Errol Blackwood and Joshua Lucas shared the stage with energetic performances.
The reggae night commenced with Alexi Couto’s euphonious performance as she sang a few of Bob Marley’s songs such as ‘Don’t Worry About A Thing’. While she sang, she played her piano and had the audience enjoying her mellow voice. It was nostalgic to see her perform while Bob Marley’s pictures flow throughout her performance background, especially when she sang ‘No Woman No Cry’. Her slow and harmonic composition brought a feeling of melancholy.
Reggae band Fujahtive was next in line to deliver a powerful and symphonic performance. Their tribute was made to the King of Reggae Robert Nesta Marley but with a more rhythmic ambience.
Nana Mclean was shortly introduced by emcee Master T. In between performances, the emcee’s presence was humorous which made him appealing to see. Nana gave a true rendition of the Queen of Reggae, Marcia Griffiths. Nana Mclean is a Canadian Reggae icon and a Juno Award winner. She came out in an elegant red outfit with her two backup singers, Christopher Samuels and Melisa Robinson. She performed Marcia Griffiths’ hit songs such as ‘Dreamland’ and ‘I Shall Sing’. She swept the audience off their feet as soon as she began to sing ‘Electric Boogie(The Electric Slide)’. It was electric indeed! A few people from the audience went on stage to do the electric slide dance – ‘woggie woggie woggie!
When I asked Nana what Black History Month meant to her she said: “it is a blessing to celebrate our heritage.”
“We can go out there and express ourselves with freedom and without fear. We can speak freely about anything even if it makes other people uncomfortable, we’re still free.”
Mclean will release her album this year which she said would be amazing.
During the intermission, Exco Levi and I spoke about his whopping five Juno Awards.
When asked how he continued to be a constant winner he commented, “Is the people who chose Exco as the winner. I just do good music regardless if I win”
“Where does your stage name Exco comes from?”
“When I used to go to school, they call me Excobar because I used to play a lot of soccer. When I became a Rastafarian, mi get rid of the ‘bar’ so I just use Exco and add Levi which is a spiritual name, so it become Esco Levi, yeah man” he explained with laughter.
Excobar and High Priest are inductees in the Brampton Arts Walk of Fame. This was a great accomplishment for him he recalled and gives thanks for that achievement.
Soon it was time for Andrew Tosh to perform, the son of the legendary Peter Tosh and nephew of Bunny Wailer. Andrew started doing music professionally at the age of 13 when he recorded his first single in 1985. He lost his father at 20 and still reminisces
about one of his favourite memories. “Going to the river and catching fish.”
‘Make Place for the Youth’ was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album but did not win.
“I felt good about it even though I did not win, it felt like victory itself. In 2012, I got another Grammy nomination for ‘Legacy’.”
Tosh has been working consistently since the new year has started.
“Eye to Eye is new single that is ready to release with Etana. Now, I’m working with Kymani Marley on our new single called When the World Get Together.”
Everyone has something unique about themselves. For Tosh, he rides a unicycle just like his dad.
“I have been riding the unicycle since I was 13. I saw my dad riding it and I was fascinated so I began to ride it too. I even used it as a part of my stage performances.”
Andrew Tosh’s studio works and discography are extensive as he continues to build his family’s legacy.
Tribute to Reggae Legends was powered by Kuumba Cultural Association of Toronto and produced by Jones & Jones Productions Ltd. It was a great night and one that each fan of reggae should attend.