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MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica; February 14, 2017: Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett has lauded legendary musician and actor, Jimmy Cliff (Mr. James Ezekiel Chambers, OM) for his sterling contribution to Jamaican film and music, describing him as “both a trailblazer and influencer; an enduring voice who has helped to make little Jamaica a cultural heavy weight on the world stage.”
Minister Bartlett made his comments as Jimmy Cliff received IRIEF FM’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award at the Somerton All-Age School recently. The award was presented to the renowned entertainer “for his exceptional work as a songwriter, artiste and activist for social justice.”
Mr. Bartlett said, “when we find our own who have done so well to achieve international notoriety we must be able to work and walk with them as they continue the journey over time and to find their place in the pantheon of history so that we can be proud that we lived and they lived among us.”
In his glowing tribute, Minister Bartlett said, “when you go across the world Jimmy Cliff pops up not just as a reference of another human being, but a powerful representation of iconoclastic achievement from a little country that like a boat on a big ocean packs waves that are so mighty to be called tsunami.”
Jimmy Cliff, who has been singing since recording his first single, ”Hurricane Hattie” at age 14, and is credited with introducing Bob Marley to his producer, has been performing internationally for some 55 years.
Underscoring that entertainment is an area in which Jamaica is a world beater, Minister Bartlett said “the Ministry of Tourism and its agencies are committed to fostering the continued development of the entertainment industry and the integration of entertainment into our tourism product.”
He added that entertainment tourism was one of the main niche areas being developed in order to diversify the tourism product and tap into new markets. “This is precisely why we are placing special focus on developing entertainment tourism as part of our growth strategy,” he said.
With the Ministry’s Sports and Entertainment Network actively seeking to capitalize on the tremendous potential of entertainment, Minister Bartlett said “cultural ambassadors like Jimmy Cliff make our work that much easier because through your illustrious achievements Jamaica has inarguably become known as the mecca of Reggae music and a focal point for popular culture.”
Thousands of adults and children, including a number of visitors, packed into the 75-year-old Somerton All-Ago school building and crowded the school yard for the historic IRIE FM event in which several members of the political directorate, scholars, musicians, singers and dancers paid tribute to Jimmy Cliff for his achievement and the influence he has had on their lives.