Hon. Toots now in order for Jamaica reggae talent

From left, Jah Paul Haughton, Commissioner Ray Kelly and Zach “Astronaut” Henry.
Photo courtesy of Paul Haughton

Frederick “Toots” Hibbert, lead singer of the acclaimed reggae group Toots & the Maytals recently received his second and most distinguished national honor when the prime minister of his birth-land presented him with the Order of Jamaica during a ceremony held on National Heroes Day.

It is the fifth of the six ranks in the Jamaica honors system.

“Membership in the Order can be conferred to any Jamaican citizen of outstanding distinction. Honorary membership in the Order can be conferred to any distinguishing citizen of a country other than Jamaica.”

Members and Honorary Members are entitled to:

•wear the Insignia of the Order as a decoration

•be styled “Honorable”

•use the post nominal letters “OJ”

The four-time Grammy nominee received the high honor during a nationally broadcast ceremony from the lawns of Kings House, the official residence of Jamaica’s Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen. Presided by the island’s PM Portia Simpson-Miller, the annual tribute to declared heroes also enables those honored to freely add the word ‘honorable’ to their name.

For Hibbert, the honor also places the singer as a member of an exclusive club, which includes his musical peers Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff and Island Records founder Chris Blackwell.

Hibbert previously received the Order of Distinction (OD), the sixth highest national honor, which is “conferred upon citizens of Jamaica who have rendered outstanding and important service to Jamaica, or to distinguished citizens of a country other than Jamaica.”

The singer won the music industry’s highest honor in 2005 – a Grammy in the Best Reggae album category – for his release of “True Love.”

His current album, “Unplugged on Strawberry Hill” introduces his first ever acoustic renderings of his hits which include:“Sweet and Dandy,” ”Monkey Man,” “Time Tough,” “Bam Bam,” “54-46,” “Pressure Drop” and “Do the Reggae” – the 1968 single widely credited with coining the name of Jamaica’s most popular genre.

The CD/DVD release is allegedly in contention for a Grammy nomination this year.

The package compiles video footage of the filming of his historic recording session along with the first ever official documentary on his life entitled: “Reggae Got Soul: The Story of Toots & the Maytals.”

The performing and recording group is slated to embark on a 20-city U.S. tour this month.


A galaxy of stars will pay tribute to one of the entertainment industry’s biggest star when CBS-TV airs “We Will Always Love You: A Grammy Salute to Whitney Houston.”

Jennifer Hudson, Britney Spears, LL Cool J, Halle Berry, Taraji P. Henson, Usher, CeCe Winans, Celine Dion and Yolanda Adams will perform during a one-hour special in celebration of the life and artistry of the talented superstar.

The Nov. 16 tribute will include interviews and performances from various artists paying homage to the six-time Grammy winner.

Taped last month at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, California, celebrities packed the venue to pay tribute to the talent.

“She inspired a generation of little girls and women to believe in their own dream and to know that they had within themselves the greatest gift of all,” Berry said.

“I was one of those little girls who then became a woman who never ever, ever, stopped loving Whitney Houston.” The Academy Award winner added.

During the tribute, viewers will see Usher singing “I Believe In You And Me,” and gospel singers Winans and Adams will render a version of “Count On Me.”

Hudson channeled the singer wearing a hair-style Houston fashioned and delivered a medley of her hits. She performed “I’m Every Woman,” “How Will I Know” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”

Spears reprised Houston’s “I Have Nothing,” the song that won her a record deal after an audition.

In addition, the special will include some of Houston’s most memorable performances of her career. The Grammy tribute will celebrate Houston’s life and career with exclusive interviews, never-before-seen footage, including highlights of nearly all of Houston’s Grammy telecast performances, her classic performance of the national anthem at Super Bowl XXV in 1991, and her first-ever television appearance on The Merv Griffin Show in the early ‘80s.

Slated to air at 10:00 p.m., the special will also feature other artists sharing their memories of Houston and paying respect to one of the world’s biggest pop stars.

Houston died on Feb. 11 at age 48, the evening before the 2012 Grammy Awards at the Beverly Hilton. She was one of the biggest pop stars — male or female — of all time, selling more than 170 million combined albums, songs and videos.

She garnered six Grammys during her career and performed on the Grammy stage eight times — a distinction she shares with a chosen few.

Her last appearance on “music’s biggest night” was in 2009 where she presented Hudson with her first Grammy for Best R&B Album.

She also won six People’s Choice Awards, seven Soul Train Awards, 16 NAACP Image Awards, 22 American Music awards, 30 Billboard Awards, 99 RIAA, two Emmy Awards and a total of 415 honors and countless accolades.

Houston is also being remembered with a special exhibit in the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, an official photo tribute book –“Whitney: Tribute to An Icon”, due out Nov. 27, and an 18-track greatest hits album, “I Will Always Love You — The Best Of Whitney Houston,” scheduled for release on Nov. 13.

T.D. Jakes, a minister and producer of Houston’s final film, “Sparkle,” said Houston’s early death can serve as a sad cautionary tale.

“Our message and our heart’s cry to young people to really govern the choices that they make, and that those choices have consequences, long term consequences,” Jakes said.

“It is not enough to be talented. We must also be wise.”

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