By Vinette K. Pryce
Damian Marley previously won two Grammy Best Reggae Album trophies for Half Way Tree and Welcome To Jamrock compilations named from Jamaica’s landmark locations. Continuing what now seems a pattern, Marley’s 18-track album Stony Hill shouts out an area familiar to his Kingston roots.
On hearing the news, Olivia Grange, Jamaica’s Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport congratulated him on winning the only category dedicated to the island-honed music genre.
“This is now the fourth Grammy win for Junior Gong in five nominations, so it’s a very impressive record that he’s establishing. I congratulate him on this latest success. It’s not only a win for him but victory for Jamaica’s Reggae music. We’re very happy that the Reggae Grammy is coming home to Jamaica.”
Grange has been an insider eye-witness to the recorder’s talent from his beginning years. As a partner with Clifton “Specialist” Dillon, prior to becoming a parliamentarian Grange helmed Shang Records where Marley released a song touting his father to being a “Bedroom Bully.”
While associated with the stable of Jamaican recording artists there, he also collaborated on a children’s Reggae compilation which was released on the SONY Music label.
Marley won from a field of five nominees which included Jamaican Recording Artists Chronixx (Chronology) and Morgan Heritage (Avrakedabra) as well as Common Kings (Lost in Paradise) whose members comprise talents from Samoa, the Fiji Islands and other places in the South Pacific and Hawaii-based J Boog (Wash House Ting). He now adds to gains he made in the genre in 2002 and in 2006.
On that occasion, 12 years ago, the nicknamed Junior Gong – from his father’s Tuff Gong moniker — collected a pair. In addition to winning the Reggae category he also took home another for winning the Best Urban/Alternative Performance.
Damian is the only Reggae artist to win that honor and the only Reggae artist to win two Grammys on the same night. Despite talk about sure-wins for members of the Marley family when nominated in the category, in 2010 when Marley released a collaborative CD with Nas titled Distant Relatives the heir did not claim the coveted prize.
According to Wikipedia that — “album title refers not only to the bond between the artists, but the connection to their African ancestry, which inspired the album both musically and lyrically. They had previously collaborated on “Road to Zion” on Marley’s Welcome To Jamrock album.
The album combines two different flavors of music with Marley’s dub-rock aesthetic and Nas’ flow. Damian and his brother Stephen produced the album. The proceeds of this album went to building schools in the Congo.
As a teenager, the young Gong launched his career with the album Mr. Marley in 1996. To promote the debut album he toured extensively with Rita Marley, the Tamlins and others using his inheritance to fund the series of road concerts. Other efforts by the winner include “Superheavy” in 2011 and “Set Up Shop” in 2015. The latest win adds to the Marley family’s treasure trove of scoring the most miniature gramophones in the category.
Grange also commended Chronixx who was nominated for the first time and Morgan Heritage who were nominated for the second time. Morgan Heritage won the category for their first studio release “Strictly Roots” two years ago.
Sting, Ushers and Shaggy In Grammy Spotlight
British Pop Singer, Sting has been getting some online heat for overexposure during the live, broadcast airing of the 60th Grammy awards which after 15 years returned to New York City.
Grammy viewers posted numerous critiques questioning why the 16-time Grammy winner appeared three times during the awards presentation showcase despite the fact he was not nominated in a single category.
Appearing twice with Shaggy, who has only won one of the miniature gramophones in 1996 for his “Boombastic” Reggae release, Sting also made an onstage appearance to present the winner of the song of the year category.
The two recently collaborated for an album titled, 44/876 and announced details of the soon-to-be-released joint production on the eve of the awards during the Clive Davis’ Pre-Grammy Gala. A single from the CD has been making the rounds titled “Don’t Make me Wait.”
The song debuted during the live, television showcase when James Corden — the host of the Grammys — retooled his popular LA-based carpool karaoke feature singing a medley of songs which combined Sting’s 30-year-old “Englishman in New York,” and Shaggy’s 18-year-old “It Wasn’t Me.”
The album will combine Jamaican, dancehall, Reggae, rhythms with Sting’s signature Rock ‘n Roll, Pop blend. Earlier in the month, the two united for a benefit fundraiser to help expand Kingston’s Bustamante Children’s Hospital.
In addition to winning the coveted music award more than a decade ago, Shaggy has also been nominated for Best Reggae Album in 2015 and 2012 for Out of Many One Music” and Summer in Kingston.
With No Nominations Rihanna Wins Grammy
Rihanna has had 33 Grammy nominations since 2008. She is also the female artist with five, the most wins in the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration category. This year, Rihanna was not nominated for a single Grammy Award but named a winner in the category for joining Kendrick Lamar to sing “Loyalty.”
Joining him onstage to accept his prize, Rihanna said it was an “incredible opportunity for being on such a great record.” Looking directly at her collaborator she added “I love this record. I’m honored to do this with you. Congrats, you deserve this one.”
The Barbados-born songstress can now count nine Grammy to a collection of miniature gramophones she is now seem to be increasing. On the return showcase to NYC, the music industry’s biggest night also featured Rihanna in performance of “Wild Thoughts” with DJ Khaled and Bryson Tiller.