By Howard Campbell
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Harry Belafonte and Grace Jones, who expressed their Jamaican heritage in unique form to an international audience, have been recognised by the Jamaican government for their contribution to the country’s music. This was announced by the government August 6.
Harry Belafonte To Receive Order of Merit
Belafonte, 91, will receive the Order of Merit, Jamaica’s third highest civic honour during the National Honours and Awards ceremony in October. The 70-year-old Jones will receive the Order of Jamaica, the country’s fourth highest award, Belafonte was born in Harlem, New York to Jamaican mother and an immigrant father from Martinique, French West Indies but spent eight years of his youth in Jamaica.
His time in Jamaica had a lasting impact, even when he became a major Hollywood star during the 1950s; the island influence can be heard on Calypso, the 1956 album that introduced the sound of the Eastern Caribbean to the American mainstream.
Driven by songs like The Banana Boat Man, Calypso became the first album certified platinum for sales of one million units or more. Belafonte, a vocal advocate for civil rights in the United States, befriended Jamaican prime minister Michael Manley during the 1970s when Manley’s socialist policies were unpopular with the American government.
Grace Jones to receive the Order of Jamaica
Jones was born in Spanish Town but migrated to the US as a teenager. There, she became a successful model and singer, befriending avant garde legends like Andy Warhol and becoming a regular at the trendy Studio 54 in New York City.
In the early 1980s, Jones returned to her roots when she teamed with Sly and Robbie who produced some of her best songs including Pull Up To The Bumper and My Jamaican Guy. She also starred in mega box office films such as Boomerang and A View To A Kill.
Jones made several appearances in Jamaica this year promoting her book, Bloodlight and Bami.
Veteran Broadcaster Winston Barnes Awarded OD
Other entertainment personalities cited for national honours are broadcaster Winston Barnes who has been awarded the Order of Distinction (Commander Class).
Film producer and cultural activist Barbara Blake-Hannah, deejay Yellowman, Disc Jockey Bob Clarke (of Irie FM), Johnny Gourzong of Reggae Sumfest fame, broadcaster/musicologist Dermot Hussey and poet/folklorist Joan Andrea Hutchinson, will receive the Order of Distinction (Officer Class).
Disc Jockey Donovan Dacres will receive the Badge of Honour for Long and Faithful Service to the Music Industry.