William “Willie” Stewart Awarded Order of Distinction by the Jamaican Government

William "Willie" Stewart Awarded Order of Distinction by the Jamaican Government
William “Willie” Stewart (file photo)

by Howard Campbell

SOUTH FLORIDA – Master drummer and South Florida resident William “Willie” Stewart has been awarded the Order of Distinction by the Jamaican government. The OD is the Caribbean country’s sixth highest honor.

He will receive the badge on October 19 during the National Honors and Awards ceremony in Kingston, Jamaica’s capital.

“I am truly humbled and grateful to be awarded this Order of Distinction. It is always a great feeling to be recognized by my country, the land I love. As a musician, I know the power and value of sharing our rich Jamaican musical heritage. Especially in a country like Jamaica that reflects so much of its culture through this artform. And to be recognized for doing what I love is a true blessing,” said Stewart.

Though many music fans associate the London-born Stewart with reggae band Third World, he has established himself in South Florida as a mentor to young musicians. For the past eight years, he has organized the successful Rhythms of Africa show through his non-profit Embrace Music Foundation.

“God has blessed me with a wonderful, supportive wife and family. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to be able to develop the Rhythms of Africa program. It has been a privilege to work with hundreds of youth here. This year, we celebrated our eighth annual production, which was a great success,” he said. “Thanks to our amazing EMF board members, CEO, production and marketing team, musicians, artists and dancers as well as out donors, grantors, sponsors and fans.”

Stewart moved to Jamaica with his parents when he was 11 years-old and grew up in Kingston. He was a member of the Inner Circle band before joining Third World in 1976, and played on the band’s biggest hit songs including Now That we Found Love, Try Jah Love, Committed and Sense of Purpose.

2020 Entertainment Industry OD Recipients

Other entertainment industry OD recipients this year are artists Eric Donaldson, Cedella Marley, Big Youth and Keith Lyn; actor Oliver Samuels, Deiwght Peters of Saint International (modeling agency), dancer/choreographer Clive Thompson,music producers Jon Baker and Robert “Bobby Digital” Dixon (posthumously) and British broadcaster David Rodigan.

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