Ernie Smith’s voice always brings back good memories for me. When he was a solo artist, he used to do stints at the Devon House Grog Shoppe (itself a place of good memories) on Friday evenings. Under that huge mango tree in the courtyard we sat (once a barn owl sat, looking down on us) sipping the cocktails that the Grog Shoppe was famous for – and did they have a kick in them in those days! The waiters were funny, slightly old-fashioned and charming. Mr. Smith would sing reggae (of course), strum his guitar and then turn to some country and western, sometimes something soulful, with his deep baritone voice. It was simply the place to be – and at the time (as you will see from the footnote below) we were not aware of Mr. Smith’s remarkable and quite unusual career.
Now Mr. Smith will be performing at the upcoming Living Legacy Awards (having received one himself) organized by the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP), founded by the totally inspirational Jean Lowrie-Chin. The major sponsor of these awards is National Baking Company.
Please see the press release below. We do hope you will come. Please see CCRP’s Facebook page for details, or call 876 469-1944 or PROComm Tel: 876 665-5025 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ernie Smith to Provide Musical Pleasure at CCRP Living Legacy Awards
Glenroy Anthony Smith, O.D. (better known as Ernie Smith) will bring musical joy and entertainment to participants and four honorees at the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) Living Legacy Awards 2018. The Awards Luncheon, with major sponsor National Baking Company, will take place on Friday, September 28, at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge, University of the West Indies Mona Campus, beginning at 12:00 noon. Dr. the Hon. Glen Christian, O.J., O.D., Joy Crooks, O.D., Dr. Owen James, O.D., and Dr. Jean Small will be honored at the event.
“As one of the first CCRP Living Legacy Award recipients [in 2012] I am looking forward to performing at this year’s event. CCRP continues to ensure that Jamaica remembers the legacy of our elders and I applaud them for it,” said the renowned singer, songwriter, and musician with the mellow voice.
Born in Kingston in 1945, Ernie Smith grew up in the parish of St. Ann in a large musical family (he has eight siblings). After high school, he formed a singing group with four of his brothers and sisters. His singing and songwriting career took off when he recorded an original composition (“I Can’t Take It”) at Federal Records.
Smith’s professional music career went from strength to strength. He won Grand Prize at the World Popular Song Festival in Tokyo with his song “Life Is Just For Living” – as the first Jamaican musician to win an international award. He was the first popular musician to be honored by the Jamaican Government with the Badge of Honour in 1973. He lived overseas for 13 years and was credited for popularizing reggae music in Canada.
Returning to Jamaica in 1988 after Hurricane Gilbert, Smith recalls watching people exchanging gifts and thanking God for life, instead of crying about their losses. He picked up his career as a highly successful solo artist. Last year he celebrated 50 years since his first recording, “I Can’t Take It,” with a Mass at the Bamboo Catholic Church, where he once served as an altar boy; and a “Solid Gold” concert in September 2017.
Ernie Smith has never stopped singing and playing. He has written over 200 songs and has received numerous awards at home and abroad, including a Bronze Musgrave Medal in 2003 and an Order of Distinction in 2006.
About Ernie Smith:
Glenroy Anthony Smith is the firstborn son of, Arthur George and Linneth Smith. Ernie’s made an indelible mark on Jamaican music. Hits followed in quick succession, – Bend Down, Ride On Sammy, One Dream, Pitta Patta and Duppy Gunman. In 1972 at The World Popular Song Festival in Toyko, he won the Grand Prize with his original composition, “Life Is Just For Living”, competing against songwriters like Neil Sedaka, and Michael Legrand.
Ernie became the first Jamaican musician to win an international music award. For this historic achievement, he became the first musician in the field of Popular Music to be honored by the Jamaican Government with the Badge of Honour for meritorious service in the field of popular music. In 1976, Ernie was forced into exile in North America because of what was considered to be controversial political commentary in his song, “As We Fight One Another For The Power And The Glory, The Kingdom Goes To Waste”. Ironically, the once-banned song is still relevant and even more popular today. Decades after its release, it is the ‘battle song’ for Jamaican talk shows and community activists.