Roots reggae empress Etana, reggae crooner Gramps Morgan, dancehall deejays Assassin and Lushy Banton joined Irie Jam Media and Black Emperor Entertainment to fete the launch of Irie Jamboree 2009, the seventh annual staging of North America’s premier festival.
Held at one of New York City’s popular swanky night clubs, hundreds of members of the media, music and entertainment industry personnel converged in Club TOUCH for what indeed was an ‘irie’ jam session for the unveiling of Irie Jamboree 2009 and the Heineken Irie Jamboree Club Tour on Tuesday, August 4.
With the “History of Music” as the theme for this year’s event, Irie Jam Media CEO Bobby Clarke revealed a line-up that traces the evolution of Reggae from the late 1960s through the digital innovation of Dancehall.
This year’s robust line-up includes reggae music icons Freddie McGregor and Ken Boothe representing the best of classic reggae, and Queen Ifrica, Etana, Gramps Morgan, Tony Rebel, Ras Shiloh, Natural Black, Bushman, and Ras Penco bringing the consciousness of roots reggae.
Legendary singer, producer, and sound system operator Sugar Minott takes it back to the “rub-a-dub stylee” of the 70s and 80s, with Dancehall veterans Pinchers, Flourgon, Lady G, Shinehead, and Daddy Lizzard rounding out the vintage rockers segment. Dancehall’s platinum poster boy Sean Paul leads the pack of current dancehall giants which also include TOK, Vegas, and Spice – who have all earned spots on the Billboard Top 100 recently – lover’s rock crooner Anthony Cruz and dancehall dj Assassin.
Up-and-coming dancehall acts Laden, Chino, Ricky Blaze, Tifa, Barbee, Hollow Point, Briggy Benz, and others are also featured alongside Canadian Roots Reggae imports Humble, Steel, and Tasha T.
“What sets Irie Jamboree apart from the run-of-the-mill outdoor stage show, is that we select a theme, whether it be a cultural concept or a theme relating to a current event-and build our show around that idea,” states Clarke. “For this year’s ‘History of Music’ theme, we chose artistes who really showcase the evolution of reggae, from Ken Boothe who started his career during the very early stages of reggae, to Laden and Chino who are fast becoming forces to contend with on the dancehall scene.”
Clarke, joined on stage by the rest of the Irie Jamboree executive team, Steven Williams, Louis Grant and Michael-Andre Williams, announced this year’s list of distinguished artistes to be honoured for their musical contributions to the reggae fraternity. Veterans Freddie McGregor, Ken Boothe and Sugar Minott will be honoured with Lifetime Achievement Awards, while the ‘King of the Dancehall’ Beenie Man will receive the 2009 Reggae Soldier Award. Platinum selling artiste Shaggy will be christened as an official ‘Reggae Ambassador’ by Irie Jamboree while New York-based dancehall artistes Mikey ‘Mac Daddy’ Jarrett and Shinehead will receive New York Industry Achievement Awards.
The Irie Jamboree team also announced that this year’s event will be held at the outdoor complex at York College, a few miles away from the event’s usual home at Roy Wilkins Park. Due to complaints from patrons about the lack of substantial parking in the residential area surrounding the park, Team Jamboree made the calculated move to York College which is easily accessible by subway, the Long Island Railroad, and MTA buses, as well as being outfitted with a large municipal parking area.
Jamboree sponsor Heineken, represented by Peter Nwaobi announced the launch of the Heineken Irie Jamboree Club Tour, a Jamboree celebration that will be hitting Caribbean hot-spots throughout New York City during the month of August. The tour is slated to stop in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island and will feature special Heineken and Jamboree giveaways (including discounted Jamboree tickets for the main event), and surprise appearances from Irie Jamboree performers.
Other Irie Jamboree sponsors include Digicel, Jamaica National International Money Transfer, WVIP 93.5FM, Western Union, Wrap Kings, Eye Collection and Nesta Brand clothing lines, TIA Graphics, and Irie Dale Inc.
Irie Jam Radio personalities Chris Dubbmaster, DJ Roy, Spread Love Bobby, DJ Face, Nikki Z, Andrew D, Killa Boo, and Jabba, and popular New York soundman and radio personality Steelie Bashment kept the crowd going with witty commentary.