The Little Theatre woke up on International Reggae Day. The launch of the Docufilm of the life of Dennis Emmanuel Brown CD stood as the reason. Patrons were ready to celebrate the three milestones of this event. Each patron was eager to be a part of Jamaican history. The first milestone was that this event marked the reopening of the entertainment sector. The COVID-19 lockdowns started over a year ago. The second was celebrating International Reggae Day in person, and not virtually. The third and most important milestone celebration for the night surrounded the launch of the docufilm. The film tells the real story of who and what Dennis Brown was and still is to Jamaica and the world.
As I sit here typing and listening to songs like “Lips of Wine”, “Baby Don’t Do it”, and “Yagga Yagga”, I remember the Docufilm. The stories took us behind the scenes of this wonderful human’s life. They also exposed us to the “Half that’s never been told”. Told by first-hand experience, the stories aligned with what we Jamaicans knew as we lived it. Dennis was an amazing man who cared about people above profit. Although people took advantage of his kindness, it served to solidify this giant in the hearts of any Jamaican. Those who listen to the music from this cultural capital of the world will feel immense pride.
Minister Grange Stands Tall
In her address, Minister of Gender, Culture, Entertainment, and Sport, the Honourable Olivia “Babsy” Grange MP, CD, stated,
“Today is the day designated by the Most Honourable Andrew Holness, Prime Minister, as the day of the reopening of the entertainment sector. A sector that has been seriously impacted by the global pandemic. And yet, in spite of the challenges, we are a people who recently remerged from the most difficult system of man’s inhumanity to man. We resisted, and in the end, we established a culture that has astonished the world. It is a culture that has at its uttermost part the new riddims that we created in exile from our ancestral home. These riddims, known to all as Reggae Music, has penetrated every continent and has been on the tongues of every person who seeks for freedom from oppression. It is for this reason that it is appropriate that we should reopen the entertainment sector, specifically the event sector, by celebrating a man known to us as the Crowned Prince of Reggae, Dennis Emmanuel Brown.”Minister Grange in her opening speech for the night’s activities.
In response to these words, applaud reverberated throughout the venue, punctuated with whistles. The audience’s energy took over the room as we all sat, anticipating the film to start. All I could think of was that this story is a perfect example of us telling our own story. This is us owning and representing the full truth of who we are. Told by us and loaned to the world.
The Dennis Brown Experience
The L’Acadco Dance Company entertained the audience by using the power of visual communication to express the militant message of leaving a legacy. Filled with mighty movements of perseverance and purpose, the dances focused on showing magic that lies in each of us. Dennis Brown vocal student Richie Stephens also graced the stage and delivered an emotionally charged performance, celebrating Dennis’ songs.
We caught up with Minister Grange after the show. We wanted her reaction to the statement that we are proud about actually telling our story ourselves. The Minister responded with the following statement.
It is important that we tell our own stories. And that is why I’m committed to a series of documentaries that will speak to our cultural icons. That will tell their stories. That will be true to their lives, and true to the evolution, and how we have evolved as a people and how our music has evolved over time. So, we tell our own stories, so we will tell the truth. We handled the Dennis Brown story in a particular way, where we maintained his respect and his dignity, but we also were able to convey the message that as great as he was, he was vulnerable. In the end, he passed, gone too soon. Because of certain habits, it affected his life, so we want to send that message to the people in the industry. They, too should learn from this experience.Minister Grange responding to the statement “We are so proud that we are telling our own story.”
Here are some more photos from the night.