BY: KRISTINA RAMCHARRAN
This Black History Month, the people of Brampton had the chance to witness great homage performances to honor the late and living legends of reggae. The Tribute to the Legends of Reggae, hosted by Jambana, included performances honoring superstars like Bob Marley, Dennis George, Gregory Isaacs and many more.
The night began as Mr. Cooper took the stage to perform a tribute to Gregory Isaacs. He performed some of Isaacs’ most popular songs like Night Nurse and Love is Overdue. Mr. Cooper hails from Brampton and noted during his stage time that he was very honoured to be performing in his home town.
As the night progressed so did the engagement of the crowd, as everyone began to settle in with the rhythm of the irie music. Present at the concert were various councillors from the City of Brampton as well as the city’s Mayor Linda Jeffrey.
The second performer of the night was none other than Chester Miller. Miller is from Jamaica and comes from a Rastafarian background. He brought joy to the stage while paying tribute to his influence in Reggae, the late Dennis George. Miller started performing when he was just 16 years old.
Up next, the crowd was treated to a lively performance that got everyone on their feet and moving, by none other than Canada’s Queen of reggae Nana Mclean. Mclean’s performance was largely a performance to Bob Marley and the Wailers, performing hits like Three Little Birds and Simmer Down.
Mclean also threw some of her own flare into her performance, and kicked off her shoes, showing off her infectious dance moves.
However, Mclean and Mr. Cooper were not the only Brampton natives performing at the show.
Tribute to the Legends of Reggae headliner Exco Levi also hails from Brampton and has earned a star on the Brampton Walk of Fame. Levi is a four time consecutive Juno award winner and has been in demand all over the world such as in Europe, the Caribbean and in the United States.
Known as the “high priest” of Canadian Reggae, Levi is a part of the new generation of reggae bringing the genre to younger masses.
Levi delivered a high energy performance of various reggae hits and original songs such as Bob Marley’s Zimbabwe and Jamming, and Chronixx’s Smile Jamaica. Exco levi has two upcoming solo shows in the Greater Toronto Area, including one at the Mod Club in the summer.
The last performance of the night was by one of Reggae music’s most iconic artists, living legend Ken Boothe. With 23 albums and four compilation albums, Boothe is widely known in the reggae industry as one of Jamaica’s top reggae vocalists.
Both his mother and sister are known in the reggae industry. Boothe is one of the longest performing reggae artists, as he has been in the business for over 52 years.
Ken Boothe began his performance with one of his latest releases, Journey, and then progressed into some more iconic songs. “Let’s bring back some memories,” said Boothe as he shifted from his newer music to some of his classics. The songs he sang included Everything I Own, Crying Over You and Let the Water Run Dry. Boothe brought energy to the stage throughout his performance with his electric dance moves and his bright red suit.
The show was greeted with warm responses and a jam packed audience. All of the performances were backed up with the support of the Hardcore Band. Music throughout the night was provided by Brampton’s very own young talent DJ Joshua Lucas. Lucas is a 16-year-old DJ who specializes in spinning all the best in reggae music.
Dj Joshua Lucas provided musical support throughout the show, while alongside some of the greatest reggae performers in Canada. “I’ve been DJing for roughly about 8-9 years now. I was inspired by family members and family friends,” said Joshua on his inspiration behind becoming a reggae DJ. He identifies all of the legends as his influences.
“Bob Marley definitely brought my attention to reggae first,” said Joshua, but he also added that the vocal abilities Dennis George and Gregory Isaacs have impacted him.
On reggae being his genre of choice Joshua said, “reggae music for is more than just a genre of music I’ve chosen to play. For me it has a lot of deeper meanings. I associate it with family, culture, just the general feeling of happiness, because that’s where I come from being from a Jamaican background. Reggae has that kind of meaning for me.”
The Tribute to the Legends of Reggae concert was part one of the two-part concert series. The second show took place at the Opera House in Toronto on February 25. The series is an extension of the Jambana festival happening later in the year. Coverage of the concerts on social media can be found using the hashtag #LegendsOfReggaeTO.