Stepping Razor award sharpens Bushman's drive
Reggae artiste Bushman, who on Thursday night walked away with the Stepping Razor Award at the Peter Tosh Awards Gala, says he plans to use the accolade as motivation to continue making good music.
"When I entered the music industry 23 years ago, it was to use the platform to speak for the millions of voices people don't listen to. This award, being the first I have received throughout my career as reggae recording artiste, serves as a reminder," Bushman said at the event held at Eden Gardens in Kingston.
The Peter Tosh Awards acknowledges individuals that continue to advocate for equal rights and justice for people, and the legalisation of marijuana not only locally, but across the globe, thus reflecting the meaning of Peter Tosh's activism through his words spoken and in song.
The awardees included the patriarch of Morgan Heritage, Denroy Morgan, dub poet and talk-show host Mutabaruka, and the co-founder of the Peter Tosh Museum, Kingsley Cooper. The Peter Tosh Estate also presented a special award to Haile Selassie, posthumously, under the category of Equal Rights and Justice in recognition for his fight for the less fortunate and the Rastafarian movement.
The Peter Tosh Estate's selected Bushman to receive the Steppin' Razor Award for his work, Bushman Sings The Bush Doctor: A Tribute to Peter Tosh. It was the manifestation of a partnership with Penthouse Records' Donovan Germain. The production showed Bushman's powerful vocal range and extensive knowledge of the songs recorded.
"About 20 songs were recorded for the album but only 12 tracks made the final cut, this was the birth of Bushman Sings The Bush Doctor: A Tribute to Peter Tosh, Bushman said.
Some of the songs featured included Johnny B. Goode, Stepping Razor, Creation, Equal Rights and two collaborations, Mama Africa with Buju Banton and Don't Look Back with Tarrus Riley.
"Don't you watch my size, I'm dangerous," Bushman told The Gleaner. "I am not tall like Peter Tosh but I have done works of tall heights. He is a force to be reckoned with and I am floating knowing that the estate provided the first award I ever received in my life and career as a reggae singer, it is a milestone that is so huge."
Copeland Forbes, a musicologist, said Bushman has adopted positive characteristics from several of Jamaica's top entertainers. And Bushman agrees.
"Copeland was right; I have certainly adopted the traits of artistes like Dennis Brown, the way he performed live, it reaches the audience even if it's just from watching videos of him online, and how Luciano plays with notes. I am outspoken like Peter Tosh, and with Richie Stephens, it is the cabaret sound that can go across the world."
Meanwhile, Ras Iyah V, the 2017 Legalise It Award recipient, described Denroy Morgan, this year's Legalise It Award recipient, as one the most serious reggae artistes to speak about.
Although Morgan was not present, Dave Rodney, in charge of media marketing for the Peter Tosh Estate, accepted the award on behalf of him. Rodney expressed gratitude in light of Morgan's absence stating that Morgan has been through all kinds of struggles for the legalisation of marijuana and for the acknowledgment of its uses.
"Denroy stopped in the Bronx for 25 pounds of weed faced over 20 years in jail. Use the defence of sacrament not used successfully before. Difficult to find an attorney to go that route argued that it was for sacramental use. Go on and make good music," Rodney said.
Mutabaruka who was also placed in lock up on more than one occasion for marijuana, received the Bush Doctor Award.
"It is a nice feeling because it is an award received in a tradition and I jussa follow and go through."
Mutabaruka who does not smoke marijuana says, "Too much of my brethren go prison for it and them need to stop lock up people for ganja, especially Rasta. I never see the vibes to smoke ganja but I still support the movement to legalise it because I use it in other ways."