Junior Gong Wins Double at Grammys


Jigga Mattic
Yardflex Reporter

Juniorgong-Grammy.jpgThey may have to stop calling him Junior now.
Reggae heir apparent Damian "Jr Gong" Marley won the Grammy award in the Best Reggae Album tonight during the 48th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles for his successful crossover record, 'Welcome to Jamrock'.
He had also been nominated in the Best Urban/Alternative Performance in the R&B category. By winning the Reggae Grammy, Damian Marley has emulated a feat performed only by fellow deejay Shabba Ranks as being the only two dancehall artistes who have won the Reggae Grammy twice.

Damian, the son of legendary singer Bob Marley, had won a Grammy for best reggae album for Halfway Tree during the 44th Annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles in the year 2001.
Marley showed a flair for music at an early age, and when he was 13, the youngest of the Marley sons formed his first band, the Shepherds -- which also included the son of Third World's Cat Coore and the daughter of Freddie McGregor; the group even opened up the 1992 Reggae Sunsplash festival.

In 1994, Damian began working on his own solo project on his father's Tuff Gong label. The resulting album was 'Mr. Marley'. He continued to make steady progress as an artiste, with the help of elder sibling, producer Stephen Marley, who produced and co-wrote several songs for his LPs. Eventually, his sophomore effort, 'Halfway Tree' earned a Grammy nomination in 2001, beating out a talented field, however the album, while a critical success, generate anaemic sales.

However, all that would change with the release of 'Welcome to Jamrock', a caustic melding of dancehall and old school roots reggae which became an urban phenomenon soon after its Summer of 2005 release, making highly charged cameos on street-level mixtapes and urban radio in major cities across the USA. The album sold over 86,000 units in its first week on the strength of the single, and has continued to sell well with the release of the second single, 'Road to Zion'. The album was the biggest debut for a reggae release since Nielsen SoundScan starting collating data in 1991, however, his record was eclipsed the following week by Sean Paul who sold over 100,000 units of the 'Trinity'.

The year 2005 was an impressive one for Marley, and he has been opening for the band, U2, playing to sold-out arenas to audience who would not normally have been exposed to his music. After that, he embarked on his own sold out tour, This year, there are already plans for a tour in Europe, Japan, Sweden and the United States.

Before this year's Reggae Grammy announcement, a petition had been circling via email and word of mouth in the reggae music industry, both here and abroad, calling for the Reggae Grammy to be presented to the world during the live show instead of just for those in the audience on Grammy night. The Reggae Grammy is presented during the show but not aired on television, even though past winners Shaggy, Sean Paul and Fredrick 'Toots' Hibbert have been generating international recognition. This year, that unfortunate state of affairs still exist, but, as the song goes, there's always tomorrow.

Year by Year List of Award Winners
2005 Welcome to the Jamrock, Damian Marley
2004 True Love, Toots Hibbert (BMG)
2003 Dutty Rock, Sean Paul (Atlantic)
2002 Jamaican E.T., Lee "Scratch" Perry (Trojan Records)
2001 Halfway Tree, Damian Marley (Motown Records)
2000 Art and Life, Beenie Man (Virgin Records America)
1999 Calling Rastafari, Burning Spear (Heartbeat Records)
1998 Friends, Sly and Robbie (EastWest Records America/EEG)
1997 Fallen is Babylon, Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers (Elektra Records/EEG)
1996 Hall of Fame - A Tribute to Bob Marley's 50th Anniversary, Bunny Wailer (RAS Records)
1995 Boombastic, Shaggy (Virgin)
1994 Crucial! Roots Classics, Bunny Wailer (Shanachie)
1993 Bad Boys, Inner Circle (Big Beat/Atlantic)
1992 X-Tra Naked, Shabba Ranks (Epic)
1991 As Raw as Ever, Shabba Ranks (Epic)
1990 Time Will Tell-A Tribute to Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer (Shanachie)
1989 One Bright Day, Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers (Virgin)
1988 Conscious Party, Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers (Virgin)
1987 No Nuclear War, Peter Tosh (EMI-America)
1986 Babylon the Bandit, Steel Pulse (Elektra)
1985 Cliff Hanger, Jimmy Cliff (Columbia/CBS)
1984 Anthem, Black Uhuru (Island