Tribute To Byron Lee


byronleesoca.jpgBy: Olimatta Taal

A Tribute to Byron Lee was held at the Constant Spring Golf Course, Saturday, June 30th. Many of his musical contemporaries were present to give support and enjoy the moment.

Lee was diagnosed with cancer of the bladder in October. This news put his career on hold until he successfully completed surgery to removed his bladder. You would think that under this harsh medical reality, one would stop working and concentrate on healing.

However, according to Byron Lee, music is the healing remedy. In speaking with this great man who has really laid the foundation for music in the Caribbean, YardFlex noticed his physical self was weak in stature but his personal self was strong as we discussed his musical journey.

"I would rather die on stage doing what I love doing the most - my music," exclaimed Lee. He took us down memory lane explaining that, "Tiney Winey is my favorite song till this day." When asked what his most memorable experience was, Lee paused then smiled, "The first time we held carnival in Jamaica that was my best experience."

The championing cause for Lee at this moment is to educate the masses around the issues of Cancer. The proceeds for his concert are going to Cancer education and research. Even though the tribute was sparsely attended, it was a joyous occasion.

Byron Lee and the Dragonaires opened up the show with a soca instrumental called Dumpling then went into Sammy Dead. They performed a short set before Keith Lyn sang Empty Chairs. Barry Biggs, The Jamaicans, and Nadine Sutherland paid tribute to Lee for influencing their music and giving them a start in the business.

The highlight of the night was Alison Hinds, who almost didn't make it in time for the show. She brought a lot of good vibes and was the only artist to keep the audience on their feet for the whole performance. She sang Roll It and Love and Unity before announcing that she would return to Jamaica for Sumfest.

John Holt was another favorite and the only artist for the night to get an encore on stage. His stage presence was mesmerizing as he sang Stick By Me, Carpenter and Love I Can Feel.

Young Artists like Jovi Rockwell, Queen Ifrika and Heather Cummings performed amongst the legends. However, Marcia Griffiths wooed the audience with her delivery as she explained how Byron Lee gave her the first big break in music.

The final presentation for the night was a series of video clips from artists who could not make it personally like Maxi Priest, Tony Rebel, Carlene Davis, and Richie Stephens. They expressed their love and respect for Lee who has served in a pioneering role bringing Jamaican music to the world.