Reggae singer Judith “Judy” Mowatt, O.D., a member of Bob Marley’s back-up group, the iconic I-Threes, will be honored Friday night, during the 27th virtual hosting of the Caribbean American Heritage Awards (CARAH) in Washington, D.C., with the Marcus Garvey Lifetime Achievement Award.
The CARAH Awards, which was held last year at the historic Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture, is the brainchild of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS).
The awards “celebrates the accomplishments and contributions of outstanding individuals of Caribbean descent, who have made extraordinary contributions to their fields of expertise,” said Dr. Claire Nelson, ICS’ Jamaican-born founder and president.
Dr. Nelson said that Mowatt, at the height of Marley’s popularity, managed to keep her solo career on track, releasing a solo album, “Mellow Mood,” in 1975.
Mowatt’s five solo albums, after “Mellow Mood,” were all released in the United States.
As a producer of her own albums, Dr. Nelson said Mowatt was among the first female Jamaican musicians to seize creative control of her own music.
“Through all the phases of her career, she remained an advocate for women’s ideas in a genre heavily dominated by men,” she said.
Dr. Nelson said the decision to host a virtual awards ceremony was “a tough but necessary one, as the world grapples with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), and the USA with the racial uprising and a national election.
“We have lost many noble citizens in our community this year,” she said. “We grieve with and for the loss of some of our supporters and CARAH honorees, such as, the late Prime Minister Owen Arthur, of Barbados, who joined us as keynote speaker in 1996 to lend credibility to our then-three-year-old toddler self.
“We also grieve the loss of the late Frederic ‘Toots’ Hibbert, who we honored in 2007, and who blessed us with his joy and luminous presence over the years,” Nelson added. “Even though we cannot celebrate in a physical space, we believe the experience will still be intimate in a new way.”
She said that “it is important that we celebrate and honor the success of Caribbean immigrants.
“Compounded with the racial uprising, we felt it important to let the world know that we who reflect the blood of Africa in our dark skins, we from the Caribbean are very proud of the indelible mark that our people have made and continue to make on the world, even in a world that often tries to negate us,” Dr. Nelson said.
“We will not be stifled. We will make a sanctuary. This is a tribute to triumph and transformation. No matter what. We will rise,” she added.
Other persons who will be honored include: Inventor, investor and philanthropist Dr. Nicholas Brathwaite (Grenada); biomedical researcher Dr. Swinburne A.J. Augustine (Dominica); British political maven David Lammy, MP (Guyana); avant garde artist Andrea McKenzie (Trinidad & Tobago); author Anaya Lee Willabus (Guyana); communications entrepreneur Frederick Morton, Jr. (St. Croix, US Virgin Islands); policy influencer Michele Lawrence Jawando (Bermuda); corporate leader Sen. Don Wehby, C.D. (Jamaica); and sports icon Ambassador Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce (Jamaica).
The gala event will begin with a VIP Reception at 6:30 pm, followed by the Awards Gala and After-Party – all virtually.