A living legend. A dancehall-reggae icon. Incarcerated but still thrilling worldwide audiences with hits that range from GAL, Optimistic Soul and Let Dem Know–all songs unleashed since he was locked away.
Today, Mark Anthony Myrie–the one and only, Buju Banton, celebrates his 37th birthday. As a Caribbean entertainer whose name stands firmly among some of the region's finest performers, Buju must be given credit for his accomplishments over the years, this despite being arrested for the December 2009 charge of conspiracy to possess, with intent to distribute, more than five kilos of cocaine–a charge he has denied but one that has since left him incarcerated in the US.
Eight months prior to his incarceration, Buju Banton performed in T&T at the I Am Legend 3 concert, held at Queen's Park Savannah on April 3, 2009. His performance was truly a memorable one, as it was on that occasion that many of the nation's youths heard the voice and advice of their role model as he pleaded with them to stop the crime and violence.
As one of the more popular musicians in Jamaican history, the reggae/dancehall crooner has entertained world-wide audiences, even getting beneath the skin of a select few. With nine albums under his belt between the years 1992 and 2009, Buju's repertoire spans borders as he has touched on topics of relative interest to millions around the world and proven, over the years that he is a master story-teller as his sobriquet, Banton, represents.
On his Birthday, we highlight the mystical beauty of this Caribbean soul, despite allegations of misdemeanor. In the early 90s Buju gave the world hits that ranged from Love Me Brownin' to Love Black Woman–dedications to both dark and light skinned women. It was in that year, 1992, that Buju broke Bob Marley's record for the greatest number of number one singles in one year. His early career also saw a dedicated level of attention given to HIV/Aids, by the young musician.
The track, Willy, Don't Be Silly–which promoted safe sex and the use of contraceptives, particularly the condom-earned profits which were donated to a charity supporting children with Aids. In 1995, Buju's fourth album, Til Shiloh catapulted him to yet another level of world-wide acceptance, as both supporters and critics heard a uniquely enjoyable blend of dancehall and conscious lyrics belted out in tracks like, Murderer and Untold Stories–the latter of which heard many favourable comparisons made between Buju and the late, great Bob Marley.
Buju has proven time and time again that he is truly a masterful singer and songwriter.
He even collaborated with T&T Soca King, Machel Montano, on the remix of Wining Season, a 2008 crowd pleaser. He has been nominated for Grammy awards on four occasions, the fourth of course, while he was held behind bars. During the years, the entertainer has been scolded and shunned by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, for what they cite as hateful and murderous lyrics against people of their sexual orientation. His 2010 Grammy nomination was met with much displeasure by the group, which protested against the nomination via petitions. However much to their dismay, the Grammy committee ignored their call and kept the artiste among the list of nominees for Best Reggae album. In an online interview with the Guardian, Tracii McGregor, President of Gargamel Music Inc said, "We are still patiently awaiting the new trial date in September and expect one soon.
"Unfortunately, Buju remains in lock up at Pinellas County Jail.
However, he is hanging tough. He gets tons of letters from supporters around the world and regular visits from family and close friends. "We are confident that when Buju finally has his day in court he will be exonerated. In the meantime, fans can look forward to a brand new Buju Banton album–Before The Dawn, which will be released on September 28 on Gargamel Music, Inc." McGregor said supporters of the artiste can visit, http://thisisbujubanton.wordpress.com for a timeline of the case and all things Buju Banton. Today, we say happy birthday to the artiste who has brought us much great music in the past decade and half, and continuing.