Salute to Reggae pioneers

The Meditations bring down the house at CPR’s Reggae Culture Salute.
Photo by Kevin Bollers

The Coalition to Preserve Reggae honored three persons during its 11th annual Reggae Culture Salute on Saturday, Nov. 7 at Nazareth Regional High School Performance Center in East Flatbush Brooklyn. The awardees were artistes Warrior King and Ansel Cridland and co-founder of VP Records Pat Chin.

This concert commemorated the anniversary of the coronation of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I and Empress Mennen of Ethiopia. It is a major event of the Coalition to Preserve Reggae. The concert showcased the relationship between Reggae, Rasta, Emperor Selassie and Jamaica.

CPR Founder Sharon Gordon described how the concept for Reggae Culture Salute began. “It was around 2005 or so and I had become really burnt out from doing shows, so I decided to take a hiatus from it all and during that time, friends were calling me like, ‘Sister Sharon, what’s going on with the music?’ I just didn’t like the place reggae was going. There were lots of misogynistic and homophobic lyrics and I felt that there was just a whole bunch of negativity and no longer the sweet beautiful reggae music that people had fallen in love with.”

Tonahope showcases Roots Rock Reggae.
Photo by Kevin Bollers

She continued, “It was during a time when songs talking about ‘shoot man inna dem head’ was the order of the day and we looked around and realized that it was coming up on the 75th anniversary of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I and Empress Mennen of Ethiopia and we know how important those two are to reggae and Rasta. So, we decided why not do something that celebrates and educate the people on the culture of reggae music? That was the focus! Before you knew it, we were looking at the unique relationship between Emperor Haile Selassie, Reggae and Rasta and the rest was history.”

Gordon talked about the significance of Reggae Culture Salute for CPR. “We started at the Roxy and we were completely sold out. People told us that we had to keep doing this and out of that first show was actually how the Coalition to Preserve Reggae was formed. We decided to move it to Brooklyn to make it a more family kind of vibe because we felt that the children needed to know about their culture and learn about it in a very authentic and organic way. We do this by showing where the culture of reggae has been, where its at and where its going. We have artists like The Meditations, Warrior King and Shuga; the past, present and future together.”

CPR’s founder speaking about the evolution of Reggae Culture Salute over the past 11 years said, “The children coming is a very important evolution because as a single mom, raising a son, there were a lot of places that I had to take him with me and it was always a problem. I made a vow that whenever I had the power to start making events, I was going to make them in a way that children could come, too. So, yes, the children coming and also bringing it out of the club and into a school is another evolution; particularly, in Nazareth Regional High School, a place near and dear to my heart and serves as an oasis in the East Flatbush community and as you can see, people are at home here and having a great time.”

Kristine Alicia rocks the house during the 11th annual Reggae Culture Salute on Saturday, Nov. 7 at Nazareth Regional High School Performance Center in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.
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Photo by Kevin Bollers

This year the concert opened with CPR’s resident spoken word artist, Ras Osagyefo, whose poetry stirred the consciousness of the soul. Performances then kicked off with Virginia’s own Tonahope, who lit the stage up with his brand of roots reggae. The party continued with Easy Star’s front man, Ruff Scott who livened up the evening. Florida’s own Kristine Alicia made her Reggae Culture Salute debut performance with her smash hit, “Freedom Fighters” which has become a clarion call for standing up against injustice and oppression; especially, in light of the #Blacklivesmatter movement.

Shuga also, made her debut and rocked the house with sweet sounds from her hit song “Ebony.” A returning favorite to the Reggae Culture Salute stage was Warrior King, who electrified the audience by his high octane energy and engaging performance. Reggae Culture Salute was finally rounded out with The Meditations. Founder and lead singer for the group, Ansel Cridland along with singers Daddy Lion Chandel and Laury Webb brought down the house in what was truly a tribute and salute to the culture of reggae. CPR All Stars provided the background singers and musicians. The event included African drumming, dancing, along with awards for the legendary artists and prizes for the children.

Kristine Alicia spoke about what it meant for her as a performer to be a part of this auspicious event. “As a reggae artist, it is just a big honor to pay tribute to all of the previous reggae legends, but also the ones coming up and going forward because we are all freedom fighters and moral leaders of today.”

Shuga gives a sweet performance.
Photo by Kevin Bollers

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