by Howard Campbell
Kingston, Jamaica – Jazz great Monty Alexander and actress Sheryl Lee Ralph have been awarded the Order of Jamaica in the Jamaican Government’s annual National Honours and Awards, announced August 6.
The OJ is the fifth-highest Jamaican honor.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica’s capital, Alexander has distinguished himself as a world-class pianist since the early 1960s when he was discovered by Frank Sinatra in a Miami club named Le Bistro.
While his extensive catalog of over 50 albums is dominated by traditional jazz, Alexander has experimented in recent years with reggae and other Jamaican forms such as mento and ska. He has recorded tribute albums to Bob Marley and collaborated with Sly and Robbie and guitarist Ernie Ranglin.
Ralph was born in Connecticut to an American father and Jamaican mother. She made her film debut in the 1977 comedy, A Piece of The Action, which starred Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby.
She also made a name on stage in the hit musical, Dreamgirls, and on television in the comedies, It’s A Living and Moesha.
Several persons in the entertainment sector have also been recognized by the Jamaican government. They include Trinidadian singer Lord Creator, who wrote the song Independent Jamaica to celebrate the country’s independence from Britain in August, 1962. He has been awarded the Order of Distinction (Officer Class), Jamaica’s sixth-highest honor.
Poet Kwame Dawes, deejay Jeffrey “Agent Sasco” Campbell, singer Myrna Hague-Bradshaw, playwright Basil Dawkins and folklorist Amina Blackwood-Meeks also received the OD.
The National Honours and Awards are scheduled for here in October.