Reggae Culture Salute 2011: Saluting Jah Youth

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[Entertainment: Music]

This Saturday, Nov. 5, the Coalition to Preserve Reggae Music (CPR) and TSO Productions will hold its annual Reggae Culture Salute.

This year’s musical lineup includes: the Dubtonic Kru, I Wayne, Qshan Deya, Ancient Vibration and Jah Youth, who will be given a special lifetime award. The event will be held at Nazareth Regional High School Performing Center at 475 East 57 Street—between Clarendon and Avenue D—in Brooklyn.

Reggae Culture Salute was launched in tandem with the Coalition to Preserve Reggae Music, in 2005, by TSO Production partners Carlyle McKetty and Sharon Gordon. “As we rolled into 2005, Carlyle and I had a desire to mark the 75th anniversary of the coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie I, and Empress Mennen of Ethiopia, with a commemorative event highlighting the unique relationship between Reggae, Rasta, Selassie and Jamaica,” said Gordon co-founder and chairwoman of the Coalition to Preserve Reggae Music.

“The event was named Reggae Culture Salute and the collaborators became the Coalition to Preserve Reggae Music.” Gordon also notes “Our coalition continues to grow as more individuals who sincerely want the music to grow find that CPR is a viable vehicle for their aspirations.”

Saturday’s show will feature veteran Reggae deejay—or “toaster”—Jah Youth, also known as Big Youth, who will receive this year’s CPR Pinnacle Award of Excellence for his 40 plus years in the music business. Jamaican deejays are akin to American rappers, as opposed to American deejays who spin records. Jamaican deejaystoasters are seen by many as early precursors to Rap and Hip-Hop.

These early deejays would toast on instrumental B-side of popular rhythms of the times. In those days, the lyrical content was often overtly political.

Jah Youth was born Manley Augustus Buchanan on April 19 1949, in the rough ghetto of Trenchtown—which is in Kingston, Jamaica. One of five children, his father was a policeman and his mother a Christian minister. At 14, he left school and found work as an auto mechanic at the Skyline and Sheraton Hotels in Kingston. While working there, he would practice his deep voice in the empty rooms of the hotel.

Co-workers—who called him Big Youth—encouraged him to become a deejay. Consequently, he began performing in local dancehalls, at night, developing his talent for singing and toasting.

To the disappointment of his mother and Christian family, Jah Youth embraced the vibrant Rastafarian movement which seemed more relevant than Eurocentric Christianity. Influenced by the legendary Jamaican pioneering toaster U-Roy, Jah Youth’s musical journey started in the late Sixties. By 1970, he became involved with Lord Tippertone’s Sound System and began gaining the attention of record producers in Kingston like Jimmy Radway, Phil Pratt, Prince Buster and Lee “Scratch” Perry.

However, it would be the rhythms of producer “Gussie” Clarke that would help catapult Jah Youth into stardom. Mr. Clarke made his mark in the Seventies as a principal producer of trailblazing Jamaican deejays like U-Roy and I-Roy.  In 1973 Clarke produced Jah Youth’s debut album “Screaming Target,” with included his first Jamaican hit “The Killer” as well as the track “Tippertone Rock.”

Jah Youth also had several other successful singles around this time including four that stayed on the top 20 chart for a whole year. From 1974 to 1975 he worked with several producers including: Glenn Brown, Yabby You, Joe Gibbs, The Abyssinians and Bunny Wailer. Jah Youth’s next album, “Dread Locks Dread,” was released in 1975 and produced by “Prince” Tony Robinson. Around this time he also began releasing records on his own Negusa Negast and Augustus
Buchanan labels. Some of these releases include: “Reggae Phenomemnon in 1974,” “Natty Cultural Dread” and “Hit the Road Jack, both in 1976.”

In 1977, Jah Youth signed a record deal with Virgin Records and released the album “Isaiah First Prophet of Old.” However, Virgin Records did not release his next three albums. Moreover, with the rise of a new form of dancehall, where vulgar sexual lyrics called “slackness,” ruled—and with the death of Bob Marley—artists like Jah Youth with his cultural Rastafarian sensibility fell out of favor with record companies. Consequently, after this Jah Youth’s album releases receded. However, Jah Youth continues to perform and many are, reportedly, still talking about a sizzling routine this important artist delivered at last year’s Reggae Culture Salute.

This year’s Reggae Culture Salute will also feature 2010-2011 Battle of The Band Winners, DUBTONIC KRU who will pass through New York City for their first ever performance in the tri-state area. There will also be dancers, a multi-media presentation, as well as nyahbinghi drumming and chanting. Master drummer Junior “Gabu” Wedderburn, of Lion King
fame, will also perform. Reggae Culture Salute will also commemorate the 80 anniversary of the 1930 coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie I and Empress Mennen of Ethiopia.

The show starts at 8: PM. Tickets are $30, at the door $40. For more information about Reggae Culture Salute call
718-421-6927 or logon to

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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