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CELEBRATING REGGAE

From left, Courtney LJ Panton (father), Courtney M Panton, Tahir Panton, and Stephen Suckarie.
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The Coalition to Preserve Reggae is hosting its Reggae Culture Salute at Milk River on Nov. 3. The annual family-friendly event returns after a two-year hiatus to honor the new and legendary artists in the reggae genre. This year’s honorees include Canarsie-based family band, New Kingston, who will be bestowed with the Simba Award, which honors new artists and bands, said one of the show’s co-organizers.

“We’ve been watching them for years and we like to honor artists who are really doing the work and not just talking,” said Sharon Gordon.

The band comprised of father, Courtney Panton Sr. and his three sons — Courtney Jr., Tahir, and Stephen — are great examples of artists who navigate the business for their genuine love of music and standing firm in their individuality, added Gordon.

“New Kingston has been doing the work — and tremendous work, and when we see successful independent artists, choosing to actually move in their career and out there doing for themselves, we feel that represents the spirit of a young lion in this art form.”

Showing appreciation to the local champions of one of Jamaica’s biggest cultural exports is not only a moment of pride for natives of the island, but also for its listeners globally, which helped show coordinators decide their headline performer said one of the co-organizers.

“We know that there are a lot of non-Jamaicans who are reggae lovers and who we are very connected to the reggae community, and we want to make sure people know that, which is why we chose Johnny Osbourne as headliner,” said Gordon.

To signify the popularity of reggae across cultures, Gordon said she and her team chose the veteran artist to headline the show because in addition to being a resident of Brooklyn who almost rarely performs in the borough, she said Osbourne has a wide appeal, is a major supporter of the event, and his seasoned creativity is always something to look forward to.

“He’s been in the business for five decades and he continues to be fresh and ready,” said Gordon. “Johnny is an artist who is all over the globe but as long as he in New York, he is always there because he loves the fact that children are part of the show and we are just happy to have him.”

She said the event brings forth artists who celebrate reggae in all its forms, but also serves as a learning tool about its origins and how it has evolved.

“Everything we do is about education and we try to provide education and entertainment at this event,” she said.

Gordon says that is one of the main reasons the event is free to children under 12 years old. She explained that exposing a cultural experience to the youth will have positive effects on their lives, and most chiefly, leave them with a bevy of knowledge.

“We have to pass on the information to our young people but also do it in an actual space where its a live appreciative event,” said Gordon. “It’s one thing to watch or see it on television, but to live it is another experience because it becomes a learning experience. They learn how to appreciate music, and it’s intangible and very important to see.”

“Reggae Culture Salute” at Milk River [960 Atlantic Ave. bet. Washington and Grand avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant, (718) 421-6927, www.milkriverrestaurant.com]. Nov. 3 at 7 pm. $25–$50 (kids under 12 free).

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @AS1mon.
Updated 5:47 pm, November 7, 2018
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