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2017 in Review: ‘Legacy’ by Reggae Fraternity UK

SINGALONG: Lorna 'Sutara' Gee duets with her son Starboy Nathan at 'Legacy'. (Photo credit: Courtney Anglin)

REGGAE FRATERNITY UK (RFUK) produced a riveting event in honour of British reggae musical heritage last month, with a night of good music and celebration.

Aptly called ‘Legacy’, it showcased the best of Britain’s reggae talent…and some of their children too! With its unique concept and refreshing edge, ‘Legacy’ was one of the best concerts of 2017.

Some of the hottest, emergent artists shone at ‘The Grand’ in Clapham, south London – such as Subajah, Carolene Thompson, Kya Shykwain, Lyn Gerald, Lioness Fonts, Dennis Pinnock, Darien Prophecy, Sparky Rugged, Randy Valentine and Nairobi Thompson.

The British reggae scene has a history of being largely dominated by female artists. It was encouraging to see a number of men billed on the event’s line-up.


BRING BACK THE LOVE: Randy Valentine has earned a rightful place in the hearts and music libraries of many.(Photo credit: Courtney Anglin)

GIFTED

Sese Foster, a singer who rose to prominence on X Factor as part of the girl group Miss Dynamix in 2013, left a lasting impression on the audience.

Exemplifying a perfect marriage between old classics and new ones, she warbled an acoustic version of cultural anthem ‘Black Pride’ by Kofi, before launching into her own, self-penned ode to the motherland ‘Africa’.


NEW GEN: Sese Foster, singing her heart out. (Photo credit: Courtney Anglin)

Sese received an ovation from the audience and many calls to sing it again; round here, we call it a ‘forward’ - a coveted feat for any performer. Co-host Curtis Walker came out to publicly endorse this young woman’s talent. Referring to the Muller Rice Five Grains advert and the furore it raised surrounding the perceived appropriation of black culture, Walker said:

"We are celebrating reggae music tonight. We see it bastardised on the telly with their Muller Rice & bears and suchlike."

ENGAGING

On the topic of hosts, comedic giants Donna Spence and Curtis Walker did a fantastic job of keeping the audience entertained in between acts. They served us with impromptu skits, easy skanking, jokes aplenty and warm, relatable anecdotes.


PROFESSIONALS: Donna Spence and Curtis Walker addressing the audience. (Photo credit: Courtney Anglin)

For instance, early into the night, Donna spoke of how reggae music helped to entertain her while completing household chores as a youngster, growing up.

She said; “Reggae music helped me clean the skirting boards.”

Immediately I burst out laughing, thinking of the 11-year-old me, stooped down next to a white bucket, wiping the skirting boards, further to my mother’s strict instruction. This would always take place against a backdrop of some serious reggae tunes, courtesy of Vibes FM, Galaxy Radio or vinyl records. That's how I came to learn many of the songs, word for word.

Judging by the reaction to Donna’s comment, many other audience members could relate too!

HEIR APPARENTS

Marla Brown, daughter of the Crown Prince of reggae Dennis Brown, did not disappoint. Literally bursting onto the stage, rocking to her backing melodies with infectious swagger, she sung original tracks including ‘Here Comes the King’.

Jo Caesar, Levi Roots’ daughter and winner of Reggae Star Factor (2015), effortlessly treated the audience to ‘Coming On Strong’ and ‘Different Kind of Love’.


STAR QUALITY: Jo Caesar. (Photo credit: Courtney Anglin)

Lov’Ella, daughter of Mr. Skabena himself, Alton Ellis, delivered her own ‘Unexpected Places’ and her father’s ‘Too Late to Turn Back nOw’.

In a pre-recorded video message, UK rapper Konan (of Krept & Konan) - real name Karl Wilson, gave a special shout out to ‘Legacy’ in which he exclaimed “RFUK is lit!”

He also apologised for not being able to attend the event due to touring commitments. This was played ahead of his older brother Dwayne’s joint performance with their mother Donna Michael.

By the way - in case you missed the news - acclaimed rock steady singer Delroy Wilson is Dwayne and Konan’s father! This came as a complete revelation to many in the audience. In a stirring tribute, Donna and Dwayne sung ‘Rain From The Sky’ - song popularised by the late Wilson.

Not only is Winsome (Burrell) a gifted vocalist – she always demonstrates comedic prowess too. In the lead up to her duet with daughter Monique, she had the audience smiling away at her jokes and expressions.

Lorna ‘Sutara’ Gee and her son, R&B crooner, Starboy Nathan, together sung Gee’s 1985 smash hit ‘Gotta Find A Way’. It was revealed that she wrote this song a year before Nathan was born!

Credit: Olu Kuforiji - Clearview Presentations

Stalwarts Sylvia Tella, Dennis Bovell and Kofi gave energetic performances of some of classics that they’re known and loved for, all over the world. Backing vocals were provided by True Identity (Joanne Cotterell, Rowena Cotterell and Pamela Francis) and music by the RFUK Premier band.

Towards the end of the night, DJ/radio personality PD Coolie handed over an award to the iconic Tony Williams for his contribution to reggae music. Rising star Cassandra London presented lovers rock queen Janet Kay with an award in recognition of her 40 years in the music industry. Both expressed humble thanks for their accolades.


ROCK THE RHYTHM: Janet Kay, admiring her award.(Photo credit: Courtney Anglin)

MISSION

Run by artists, for artists; Reggae Fraternity UK (RFUK) is a voluntary organisation aimed at supporting reggae artists and musicians in the UK.

An official press release explained more about the event’s concept:

“The aim is to facilitate and showcase the reggae talent in the UK and to ensure that the genre lives on. From Lovers Rock to Dancehall, we have done it all.

“UK acts have been monumental in the development of the reggae scene worldwide, and it is time to ‘pass on the baton’ and shine the light in our own back garden.”

After the successful staging of ‘Legacy’, RFUK founder, Lorna ‘Sutara’ Gee, told The Voice:

"The whole purpose of the event was to highlight our great reggae legacy in the UK. We have such a rich diversity of talent right here in Britain that needs nurturing. RFUK wants to be a part of that process. I think we proved that we’re capable of passing on that baton."


FULL HOUSE: The Grand, Clapham, south London. (Photo credit: Courtney Anglin)

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