‘Crown Prince of Reggae’ reboots entertainment sector on IRD

Reggae musician Dennis Brown performs at the Countryside Club in Kingston, Jamaica in this Dec.12, 1998 photo. Brown, a former child star who became known as the Crown Prince of Reggae, died Thursday, July 1, 1999, at the age of 43 at a Kingston hospital.
Associated Press/The Jamaica Observer, File

The world premiere of the docufilm “Dennis Emmanuel Brown: The Crown Prince of Reggae; the Man and the Music” signaled the re-opening of the entertainment sector on July 1 and also celebrated the 37th anniversary of International Reggae Day.

The tribute film debuted in Kingston, Jamaica reversing the stagnant state of entertainment since the government closed the entertainment sector following declaration of the pandemic coronavirus.

For more than a year, the entire industry shuttered disabling concerts, theatrical productions, dance presentations and other forms of amusement.

“The entertainment, culture and creative industries represent a key part of our competitive advantage and are vital to our economic recovery and long-term growth prospects,” Prime Minister Andrew Holness said announcing return of indoor and outdoor events.

“The industry has the potential to emerge from the crisis stronger and better than before,” Holness added.

There was fanfare and relief that the one-year lockdown is now over but also that the celebrated icon who died 22 years ago at age 42 is now being given the spotlight on the big screen.

Brown died July 1, 1999 from respiratory heart failure.

Commissioned by the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport and produced by Judith Bodley, the premiere event coincided with the annual revelry surrounding IRD. On a day, virtual broadcasts, media blitzes, marathon music tributes and a plethora of global gatherings celebrate the genre, the 60-minute screening was staged in keeping with the requirements of the Disaster Risk Management Act which prescribed a capacity limit for indoor venues, including theatres.

Colleagues and associates of the singer were privileged to attend the Little Theater affair, in order to revisit time-honored moments shared in recording studios, onstage or socializing with the reggae royal who was reportedly dubbed Crown Prince in 1984 by his manager Tommy Cowan.

A similar claim to his coronation has been attributed to Robert Nesta Marley, the king of reggae who cited Brown as his favorite singer.

Unfortunately, D. Brown was ravaged by an addiction to drugs.

Pervasive substance abuse shortened his life but not before the lover’s rock singer composed some of the genre’s most enduring songs.

Abounding stories of his early start at age 10 recall how he was regularly lifted or propped up in order to maneuver the microphone and stage.

His first recording at 12 launched a deal with Studio One Records and a single titled “No Man Is An Island.”

Brown is reputed to have recorded more than 75 albums before his untimely passing. Among fan favorites — “Money In My Pocket,” “Have You Ever Been In Love,” “I Forgot To Be Your Lover,” “Love Has Found Its Way,” “If I Follow My Heart,” “Love I Can Feel,” “Your Love Got A Hold On Me,” “Here I Come” and others.

In tribute to the ‘Prince’ Richie Stephens performed a medley of D. Brown songs.

L’Acadco dancers also performed a routine choreographed to his hit “Revolution.”

L’Antoinette Stines, artistic director and founder of the company personally adapted the music to her presentation.