Jamaican Music

Grammy Awards Eluded Reggae Superstar Gregory Isaacs Yet Again

Written by Audrey Reeve

Jamaica-Reggae superstar the late Gregory Isaacs, a four time nominee for the prestigious Grammy awards, has been shunned again. The Grammy award symbolizes the highest honor of excellence in the music industry.  Isaacs was nominated for the best reggae album. The album, “Isaacs meets Isaacs,” is a collaborative effort with King Isaacs, a Zimbabwean singer and longtime acquaintance of the Cool Ruler. On hand to represent the late Isaacs, were his wife June Isaacs and his former manager and confidant, the legendary artist manager, Copeland Forbes. When asked how Isaacs would have responded to not winning this prestigious award, Forbes responded, “Gregory has always wanted to win a Grammy. This was one of his most salient goals. He was of the mindset that winning the Grammy  would solidify his accomplishments as an artist.” “I know for a fact that if Gregory is out there looking at what is going on, he would be extremely disappointed to know that he did not win the Grammy award for Best Reggae Album.”  Having said that, I know he would be very happy for the winner in this category. One must take into account that Gregory has recorded over five hundred albums, with some mega hits such as Night Nurse, Tune In, and Top Ten, included. It would be befitting then, that the Cool Ruler is recognize for his hard work by winning this prestigious award.

The annual Grammy Awards ceremony was incepted in 1958 and celebrates its 53rd birthday this year. It is presented by The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. The  mandate is to recognize, acknowledge and reward excellence in the Recording Industry. The Grammy Award recognizes excellence in music across several genres. Reggae is one of those genres. Even though the Grammy Award Ceremony has been around since 1953, it only started to include the reggae genre in 1985. The group Black Uhuru, under the management of iconic artist manager Copeland Forbes, was the first recipient of the award in The Best Reggae Album category. Since that time, several reggae artists have claimed this coveted award: Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Jimmy Cliff, Sly and Robbie, Burning Spear, Shaggy, and several individuals from the Marley clan to name a few. Some reggae stars managed to win more than once, take for instance Stephen Marley who won a total of five Grammy Awards in The Best Reggae Album category and Bunny Wailer who won three times in this category. It is imperative to note that the selection criteria for the Best Reggae Album as far as the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences is concerned, is not contingent upon the number of album sold, but more so the quality and integrity of the album.

Looking at Isaacs’s track record in terms of his talent, his longevity, number of and quality of songs/albums produced; one has to agree that Isaacs is well overdue for this honor. Let’s face it, Isaacs has been nominated four times for the Grammy award. “Although Gregory wanted to win the Grammy, he was always supportive of the artist who won in The Best Reggae Album category. This is related to his love and passion for reggae music.” Said Forbes.  He further elaborated,” I have known Gregory since childhood and I have been his manager for many years and the one thing I know for sure,  no one is more deserving of the Grammy Award than the Cool Ruler.  “Nonetheless, with his extensive catalog of lover’s rock and self empowering songs, he will forever live on in our hearts, and our minds.”

About the author

Audrey Reeve