by Howard Campbell
[Fayetteville, Georgia] – Jimmy Tucker, widely considered Jamaica’s first child star, died in Fayetteville, Georgia on May 24 at age 80. His wife, Janet, confirmed his passing.
Interestingly, the singer and Pan African died less than three months before Jamaica celebrates its 60th anniversary of independence. Tucker, a tenor, made his name singing patriotic and spiritual songs such O Ye Blue Mountain, I Saw my Land in The Morning, Jamaica Land We Love (the country’s national anthem) and The Lord Reigns.
Tucker was from Trench Town, the Kingston ghetto that produced musical giants including Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Alton Ellis and Joe Higgs. He was uncle of singer Junior Tucker and Marlon Tucker, Jamaica’s most successful cricket captain.
One of the highlights of his career came in 1953 when at 11 years-old he sang for Nat King Cole at the Colony Club in Kingston. He later covered A Cradle in Bethlehem, a song made popular by the American crooner.
Tucker was a devout Christian but also held strong views on black empowerment. He was also an unapologetic patriot.
“There is a national pride to us. We have come a far way… and we have more ground to cover; we must not shy away from it. We must ensure we have a proper graceful understanding of who we are as a people… We have a great footstep to make going forward,” the tenor told the Jamaica Observer in January.
In January, Tucker received the Musgrave Silver Medal for his contribution to music. The award, first issued in 1897, is one the most distinguished for the arts in the Western Hemisphere.
Jimmy Tucker is survived by his wife and three children.