Looking back: Reggae Sumfest 1994 Image

by Biko Kennedy

A 'groomer of greats' since its inception, Reggae Sumfest have given Reggae lovers worldwide something other festivals haven't; breath-taking moments that seemingly leaves patrons mystified and yearning for more until the next staging. As the clock on the 21st showcasing ticks away, Jamaicansmusic.com looks back at the years that was and how it have evolved as time passes.

The year is 1994; Inner Circle just won the Grammy of Best Reggae Album for Bad Boys; Garnet Silk's mystically smooth vocal delivery is glorified on his single Fussing and Fighting while Dawn Penn's You Don't Love Me (No, No, No) slow and sultry record has everyone coupled-up at every party. Reggae Sumfest hosted their inaugural staging the previous year and plans are in place to make the 2nd anniversary bigger and better.

To be staged August 10-13 (Vintage/ Soca Night on August 10, a Dancehall presentation on August 11, and two Singers International Nights on August 12 and 13) in Montego Bay, Reggae Sumfest boasts a line up comprising of around 50 performers with key entertainers leading particular musical camps; Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers along with Rita Marley leads the Tuff Gong camp; Buju Banton leads the Penthouse camp, Jigsy King the Roof International crew, Louie Culture the Mad House crew, Beenie Man the Shocking Vibes crew and list goes on and on. 

But with the world's eye on Sumfest and the massive crowd that came out the previous year, an estimated 250,000 patrons are expected to grace the showcasing this year, so of course the Bob Marley Entertainment Centre was expanded to accommodate an additional 10,000 persons over its present capacity.

It all started off with, what has now become the norm, a beach party with a dance hall design at the Walter Fletcher Beach on August 9. Three top sound systems - Stone Love, Metro Media and Electro Force squared off in good old Dancehall fashion.

But the main event's line-up was the craze revellers basked in as performances wasn't just viewed but permanently etched in the minds of the massive crowd of anonymous figures.

Now known for continually signing the best available acts both locally and internationally, Maxi Priest brought his per usual tender caress on his hits Strollin' On, Wild World and Merry Go Round while Third World mystified the crowd real hot 96 Degrees in the Shade. But when the Temptin' Temptations took centre stage, the legendary RnB group had everyone singing along verbatim to their cult classics including Get Ready, Aint too Proud to Beg and of course My Girl.

Then rising singjay Shaggy did his classic take on Oh Carolina while Garnet Silk did what he alone could to a crowd. 

With Born Jamericans, Sanchez, Lt. Stitchie, Wayne Wonder, Twiggy Snagga Puss, Rickey General, Tony rebel, Terror Fabulous, Mega Banton, Lady Saw and Lady G each having impressive individual sets, no one could out do the back-to-back Grammy kid himself...Shabba Ranks.

His high-energy performance mixed with pelvic gyrations similar to that of Elvis in his prime, Shabba's authentic Dancehall flavour - which had earn him countless accolades - surely set the Sumfest stage ablaze; having the crowd embracing his dynamic and ever trendsetting persona.

High octane performances…superb line-up…Reggae Sumfest 1995 couldn't come any sooner…


Sourced at the Gleaner Archives

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