Jamaica’s Marathon Reggae Benefit to aid neighbours

Jamaica’s Marathon Reggae Benefit to aid neighbours
Bunny Wailer will be among the singers participating in the “Caribbean Love Now JAMATHON.”
Associated Press / Collin Reid

Jamaica’s creative community is mobilizing this week to stage a marathon concert to help neighbouring countries affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

An amalgam of all-genre recording artists — gospel, reggae, dancehall and soca — will donate time and talents on Nov. 22, to bolster the relief efforts aiding eastern Caribbean nations devastated by recent weather disasters.

Endorsed by the Jamaica Tourist Board, “Caribbean Love Now JAMATHON” tags the effort boasting a line-up of more than 25 superlative Jamaican talents banding together to help with the recovery of affected island/nations in the Caribbean region.

“In the spirit of one love, one heart, we lend our support to the Caribbean Love Now JAMATHON benefit concert to help our brothers and sisters throughout the Caribbean,” Donnie Dawson, Jamaica’s acting director of tourism said.

“Our thoughts and prayers remain with our neighbours and we will continue to do our part in relief and recovery efforts to rebuild these islands.”

“I’ve always felt our response to the havoc created by the hurricanes was going to be a defining moment for the Caribbean,” Joe Bogdanovich said.

Informed by news reports that the devastation by the hurricanes was catastrophic, Bogdanovich, a local businessman and a team from Jamaica visited Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda and Dominica.

After meeting with Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda and other government and disaster-relief experts on both islands, Bogdanovich said he felt “even more resolute” to raise awareness of the need to support the recovery efforts in the islands.

On his return to Jamaica, Bogdanovich reached out to his business partners and together mobilized to help the nations. They sent a first container of approximately 13,000 pounds of relief supplies and equipment to Dominica’s National Emergency Operations Centre.

They also initiated a drive to collect donations of building and agricultural supplies, canned foods, baby foods, diapers, first aid and medical supplies and water.

“The people of the islands affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria face a very long and painful road to recovery.”

“Imagine losing everything you own, with no place to shelter your family. It was heart-breaking beyond words.”

Bogdanovich also called on performers he previously worked with as chairman of the annual Reggae Sumfest summer concert series.

Beenie Man, Bunny Wailer; Carlene Davis, Christopher Martin, Etana, Freddie McGregor, Jah Cure, Jesse Royal, Protoje, Raging Fyah, Romain Virgo, Sean Paul, Taurus Riley, Third World, Toots and the Maytals and Vegas and more than a dozen more artists answered the call.

“The line up can only be described as magical,” Bogdanovich said.

As the initiator of the event he added: “There is never going to be another night where all these performers share the same stage. I am deeply grateful that not only have the artists answered the call but by doing so they prove that the Caribbean take care our own.”

“I now also see it as a defining moment for Jamaican music, as every artist we’ve reached out to for this benefit concert has said “Yes!”Bogdanovich added.

J Boog from Hawaii also agreed to support the cause.

He will travel to the island to make a live appearance.

Crooner Beres Hammond reportedly responded positively to the request and will perform.

“Beres Hammond is one the greatest performers of our time,” Bogdanovich said. “He is a global superstar and the perfect addition to our epic line-up. With Beres joining JAMATHON, we are adding even more power and purpose to what is going to be the most important event for Jamaican music in decades.”

“Jamathon will be a historic event and I am proud that our artists have united to help support our neighbors in their time of need.”

Singer Taurus Riley who accompanied him on the tour through the islands said he was shocked at witnessing the level of devastation.

“Gilbert hit Jamaica as a category three and we struggled to bounce back,” the singer said about the 1988 local hurricane in his homeland.

Making comparisons with the category five destructions Riley added, “What these people are going through is far from our imagination.”

“We have to reach out and help.”

He said, despite the pervasive destruction he witnessed he was moved by the warm welcome people on each island extended the team.

He said many people he spoke with expressed appreciation of the interest shown about their welfare.

“That says to me that music is a big part of the solution. If we can ease souls and raise money to help these islands, then we will have become our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.”

All backed by sax man Dean Fraser and an all-star reggae band, the diverse talents have all expressed concern about the devastation and all have waived performance fees by donating their talents.

Many of these artists have previously offered their talents to benefit disaster causes in Africa and the Caribbean.

During the apartheid years in South Africa, reggae artists were in the forefront of performing benefit events. Many rallied to help Biafra and Ethiopia during droughts there.

In 1988, super-group Third World performed a benefit concert at John Jay College in Brooklyn to help the University of the West Indies. On that fated September date, calypso artists Duke, Swallow and others along with rhythm and blues singer Melba Moore, James Mtume, Jocelyn Brown, rappers Doug E. Fresh and KRS-One and others donated their talents to benefit the Jamaica-based institution.

In addition to the marathon concert an online donation website has been established to accept contributions.

Slated for the National Indoor Sports Centre in Kingston — the venue was recently changed to the indoor facility — as a precaution for predicted inclement weather and also to accommodate fans across the world for a better experience of the live concert stream from the Reggae Sumfest YouTube video channel.

“The spirit of the people remains resolute, we will honor that spirit at this benefit concert,” Bogdanovich said.

For more information about the Caribbean Love Now JAMATHON benefit concert, visit caribbeanlovenow.org.

Catch You On The Inside!

More from Around NYC