New York hosted superb celebration of Jamaica’s 52nd Independence


state ministrer

State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Arnaldo Brown, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Former Prime Minister Hon. P.J. Patterson and Paulette Willoughby, JICFI chair share a moment at the Jamaica Independence Gala in New York on August 16, 2014.

New York/CMM/August 27, 2014: Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica turned out in huge numbers to the New York Marriot Marquis on Saturday, August 16, to celebrate another year of independence, and 52 never looked so good. It was an evening of elegance, sophistication and sheer class, all bound by the simple yet profound theme: “Honoring Greatness.”

Greatness was plentiful at the event with honorees including the he Skatalites, represented by the band’s only surviving member, Lester Sterling; accomplished actress, singer and humanitarian, Sheryl Lee Ralph; Karl and Faye Rodney of the New York Carib News and by no means least, special guest presenter for the evening, former prime minister, the Honorable Percival J Patterson. In his short but distinct remarks, Former Prime Minister Patterson lauded the Diaspora for its continued civic engagement, making special mention of the newly launched ‘mapping project’ which seeks to identify individuals and document the skill sets spread throughout the Diaspora. He spoke of his belief that it is a Jamaica for all, whether within or outside of her borders.


JICFI chair Paulette Willoughby poses with  honorees Jerome Haynes, son of Jah Jerry Haynes, Karl and Faye Rodney, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Lester Sterling.

Wearing his `special presenter’ hat Mr. Patterson, who managed the Skatalites before his transition from lawyer to politician, had the privilege of presenting Lester Sterling with his award and posthumously to former original members: Don Drummond, (trombone); Lloyd Knibb, (drums); Jerome, “Jah Jerry” Haynes, (guitar); Jackee Mitto, (pianio); Lloyd Brevett, (bass and drum); Tommy McCook, (tenor saxophone); Roland Alfonso, (tenor saxophone) and John ‘Dizzy Moore, (trumpet).

Sterling went on to wow the room with powerful renditions of Freedom Sound the Skatalites’ theme song, Take 5 and Puppa Lick. Backed by Fab 5 and accompanied by Leroy Graham Jr, on tenor sax, it was Ska resplendent and awesome to the ears–a true moment in time. Master of Ceremonies for the evening, Jeff Barnes kept the room buzzing with quips that elicited plenty laughter, enhancing the already pleasant and lively atmosphere in the room.

Other notables in attendance at the gala included Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, NY State Assemblyman N. Nick Perry, State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, with special responsibility for the Diaspora, Arnaldo Brown; Consul General of Jamaica to New York Mr. Herman G. LaMont, and former NY Council Member, Dr. Una Clarke.

It was an evening of which all Jamaicans would be proud. Patriotism, pride and Jamaican verve waxed a-plenty. The ballroom, bathed fully in the unmistakable colors of the national flag-black, green and gold, shone with energy. Reggae songbird Etana graced the stage, belting out her familiar hits, which turned things up a notch. Fab 5 band, with their usual sparkling set, followed before a short but electric set by DJ Roy and Road International, who kept patrons on their dancing feet into the early morning hours. The Alpha boys Home will benefit from part proceeds of the ball. For more information about this annual event, contact Ms. Andrea Daley at–

The Skatalites, Sheryl Lee Ralph, to receive Jamaica honors

Entertainer Sheryl Lee Ralph

Entertainer Sheryl Lee Ralph will he honored at the Jamaica Independence Ball in August.

By Andrea Daley

The Jamaica Independence Celebration Foundation Inc., ((JICFI), New York, will honor the Skatalites, a legendary Ska band of the 60’s, at its annual Independence Gala this year. The event will be held at the New YorkMarriott Marquis, 1535 Broadway, New York, on Saturday August 16. The event will begin with a cocktail hour at  6:30 p.m. while the rest of the activities will run from 8;00 p.m-3;00 a.m. This year’s theme is “Honoring Greatness.”Special guest and presenter of awards for the evening will be the Most Hon., P. J. Patterson, former Prime Minister of Jamaica.

Former Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson
Former Jamaican Prime Minister P. J. Patterson will present the awards to this year’s honorees.

The Skatalites began their storied journey in 1964 and staked their claim as Jamaica’s premiere Ska Band, while rising to prominence  and racking up legions of fans worldwide. Known for impressive horns and brass, they produced an impeccable, neatly synthesized sound, unleashing hits such as ‘Guns of Navarone,’ ‘Phoenix City, ‘Addis Ababa,’ ‘Silver Dollar,’ ‘Corner Stone,’ and ‘Blackberry Brandy,’ to name a few. This made them truly the soundtrack of that generation. Most of the original members of the Skatalites are now deceased.

Lester Sterling, the lone surviving member of the Skatalites.
Lester Sterling, the lone surviving member of the Skatalites, will be honored at the Jamaican Ball in New York on August 16.

Lester Sterling, the only surviving original member of the band , who played alto saxophone, will accept the award on behalf of the band. Posthumous awards will go to Don Drummond, who played trombone; Lloyd Knibb, drums; Jerome, “Jah Jerry’ Haynes, guitar; Jackee Mitto, piano; Lloyd Brevett, bass and drum; Tommy McCook, tenor saxophone; Roland Alfonso, tenor saxophone and John ‘Dizzy Moore, trumpet. Doreen Schaffer who later joined the group will also be in attendance to receive an award. Today, a new version of the band still tours, giving life to the music of the group while exposing the music to and attracting younger fans.


Cultural Reggae singer Etana will perform at the Jamaica Independence Ball and Gala in August.

The celebration of Jamaica’s Independence 52 years later still evokes great national pride amongst its sons and daughters everywhere. The annual gala attracts diaspora movers and shakers as well as friends and supporters from diverse backgrounds. This makes for a grand affair resplendent with all the cultural nuances: the flavor, sounds, fashion, music and food of the island all elegantly displayed and consumed in fine style.

This year, the gala will also honor noted actress and singer Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Dr. Karl and Faye Rodney, publishers of the Carib News. Part proceeds will be donated to charity. Entertainment will be provided by the Fab 5 Band and Roots, Reggae songbird, Etana.

For more information, JICFI may be reached at 631-374-7811, or 718-527-3484; email, –