The true national treasure of Jamaica, lies beyond the island's sparkling turquoise waters, the gushing crystal waterfalls, and wildly vibrant palettes of flowers and plants. The real treasure lies in the heart and soul of a distinct cultural legacy and it is uniquely revealed through the musical heritage of reggae singers. If in doubt, one only needs to follow the quaint country roads, beyond the Santa Cruz mountains, and deep into the parish of St. Elizabeth, a rich verdant farming area known as the food basket of Jamaica.


MC Jenny Jenny.

          Every January, Tony Rebel, in celebration of his birthday, and in tribute to the memory of his close friend, Garnet Silk, stages what may soon be exclaimed as the number one reggae festival in the world. Based on a philosophy of peace and unity, Tony, the cultural ambassador of Jamaica, brings together a unique collaboration of reggae's most powerful talent and creates a legacy nothing less than a musical paradise, set to hot reggae riddims and cool vibes. The heritage of Rebel Salute is based on a no meat, no alcohol, family atmosphere and powerfully packed with entertainment that crosses the borders of young and old, vintage roots and modern dancehall, and never forgetting the power and the glory of the women of reggae. Her nature added her blessings, Rebel Salute 2003 was accented by a voluptuous pumpkin moon, a star studded sky, and a sensually warm tropical night.



          Rebel Salute 2003 was nearly perfect. Every artist, from start to finish ,gave well executed performances, and were rewarded with a moving sea of red, gold and green RASTAFARI flags waving with undaunted appreciation. The new and younger reggae artists, set the stage early with quality showmanship and consciousness carried through the night by veteran performers lasting way past the break of dawn. No moment was less than the next and the greatness of Rebel Salute is attributed to the sum of its many magnificent parts.


I'ngel Chanta.

Jah Mason.

Lenn Hammond.

          I'ngel Chanta's immediately caught my ear as soon as I arrived at Port Kaiser's Sports Arena. I'ngel became my biggest discovery of the night. The sweetness of his voice instantly drew me to front stage. I was rewarded with a sound so sweet and reverent like a newly uncaged bird. Other young and upcoming artists included the fabulous Jah Mason, Lymie Murray, and the sweet falsetto voice of Lenn Hammond, (Beres' nephew) leaving me with a huge sense of satisfaction that reggae will be well nurtured in the generation to come. These artists have diverse and mature voices enhancing the reaches of reggae music and cross into sounds beyond reggae's classic roots. LMS, (Laza and Miriam and Shy Poo), bounded onto stage early, firing up the night with original styles of chantful singing and praising. Special guests, Daddy Denroy and Mama Morgan also made a short stage appearance heightening the unity and love spirit of the night. Mrs. Morgan stood radiant and elegant basking in the hues of the multi-colored stagelights.


LMS. (Laza)

LMS. (Miriam)

LMS. (Shy Poo)

Mama Morgan.

              Abijah, continues to make huge inroads into the reggae music world lighting up the night with his sweet graceful sound. His talent was doubly enhanced by friendly duos with veteran singer, Nadine Sutherland. Nadine gave a soulful rendition of 'Redemption Song' bringing tears to the eyes of many. Queen Ifrica elegantly sang with soulful consciousness mirroring the sensual depth of a Rasta woman's grace and splendor. The presence of Bob Andy properly paid tribute to the history of roots Rastafari music. Bob Andy's vintage style set the pace for veteran icons like Mykal Roze and Joseph Hill of Culture, looking especially dapper in his ankle length brown suit coat. The introduction of the Harmony House singers created a wild stir in the audience in anticipation of Jamaica's most loved singer, Beres Hammond. The female voices of the Harmony House Singers offered an awe inspiring medley of songs, much loved and appreciated for their own unique and beautiful talent. By the time Beres arrived on stage, the excitement crackled through the growing crowd like a bolt of lightening. Beres sang many of his most loved songs, and with his massive repertoire, he left the crowd begging for more.


Abijah.

Bob Andy.

Joseph "Culture" Hill

Beres Hammond

Baby In Crowd.

Child Praying.

          The most spiritual moment of the night was the arrival of Luciano with four dreadlocked children dancing and praying along side. Luciano began with a prayer and quickly launched into a benediction of Jah Messenjah's most revered songs. "Lord Give Me Strength," Sweep Over My Soul," "It's Me Again, Jah." The youth danced and pranced with a unique body language appearing as little natty 'poetry in motion'. Luciano asked Jesse Jendau, for herb as he launched into 'Legalize It,' but it was Beenie Man, who stepped up to the challenge handing Luciano some fragrant herb from front center stage. Luciano and children enhance the feeling of family unity and spirituality, a feeling much needed in a world threatened with war and in need of positive upliftment.


Luciano.

Jesse Jendau.

Buju Banton.

Sizzla.

          As the night reached into early morning hours, the veteran djs took to stage starting with Buju Banton, singing a glorious rendition of Destiny. Buju responded to the electric atmosphere and gave a powerful set, dreadlocks flying from start to finish, Just before dawn, a thrust of golden fireworks showered the front of the stage announcing the appearance of a sizzling and energetic Kolonji. Sizzla burned every abomination known to man, prancing back and forth against a giant RASTA flag carried dutifully across the stage. Sizzla nearly self combusted with expounded firy rhetoric raising the temperature of the crowd. He nearly upstaged the Fyah Man, with the early show of fireworks, making it slightly difficult for Capleton to bring up the sun and close down the show. However, in true prophetical style, Capleton remains the audience favorite and in his golden velvet suit continues to earn the reputation of Fyah Man sending out haunting tunes like 'Heathen Rage' and 'Who Is The Aggressor?'

          Few words can describe the overall joy felt after a full night of exhilerating moments. Rebel Salute did not end at dawn, I carried the intense joy of reggae music and a night never to be forgotten in my immediate consciousness for weeks after. The credit goes to many, however, Tony Rebel is a creative genius and has the professionalism to build a near perfect festival with the greatest collection of reggae artists alive. Rebel Salute could well become an international favorite, a cultural magnet for music lovers, and an example that diversity can be accomplished in a spirit of love and passion. This quiet little fishing village, Alligator Pond, gives Rebel Salute a true roots feel much like the very early years of Sunsplash. The setting of Jamaica in it's rural splendor combined with the greatest show in the world makes Rebel Salute a dream come true.


Alligator Pond Beach.

House On The Beach.

River View.


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Article & Photos: Sista Irie (February 2003)
(Please do not reproduce without permission).




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