Profiles of famous Jamaicans and descendants of Jamaicans – Part 1

Colin Powell
Born to Jamaican parents on April 5, 1937, Powell led a long and distinguished career as an American statesman. He was the first African American to be appointed as the U.S. Secretary of State and retired as a four-star general from the U.S. Army. Highly decorated during his prestigious military career, he served as the National Security Advisor, Commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command, and was the only African American to serve as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Following his retirement, he became a partner in the Silicon Valley firm of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, a motivational speaker, joined the board of directors of Revolution Health and became a spokesman for National Mentoring Month.

Usain Bolt
Jamaican sprinter, Usain St. Leo Bolt, was born in Trelawny, Jamaica on Aug. 21, 1986. He holds the world record and Olympic record in the 100-meter and 200-meter sprint, the first to hold both titles at the same time. He won the gold in both competitions three times, was the youngest gold medalist in the World Junior Championships and became the first to complete the 200-meter sprint in under 20 seconds. His many awards encompassed events worldwide, earning him the nickname of “Lightning Bolt.” He had a sponsorship deal with Puma and his autobiography will be released in 2012.

Asafa Powell
Specializing in the 100-meter sprint, Powell has held the world record for the 100-meter sprint in World and Olympic competitions. He translated his successes into lucrative deals with Nike, GlaxoSmithKline and Nutrilite. Born Nov. 23, 1982 in Spanish Town, Jamaica, he’s broken the 10-second barrier 63 times in events worldwide, and garnered gold, silver and bronze medals at the Olympics, World Championships, Commonwealth Games and IAAF World Athletics Final.

Bob Marley
World famous reggae singer, songwriter and musician, Nesta Robert “Bob” Marley, was born in Nine Mile, Jamaica on Feb. 6, 1945. He’s credited with bringing the music of his homeland to the forefront of the industry and introducing many to the Rastafarian religious movement. A global favorite, he was considered the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy by the Native American Havasupai and Hope tribes, and some in Nepal saw him as the incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu. His band, Bob Marley & the Wailers, were hired numerous times in the early years to open for well-known bands, and were fired when they proved more popular than the established groups for which they opened. Diagnosed with cancer in 1977, he chose to continue entertaining for as long as possible and died  May 11, 1981. He received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. 

Banju Banton
The literal translation of Banton’s name is chubby storyteller. Born July 15, 1973 in Kingston, Jamaica, he’s a direct descendant of the Maroon freedom fighters and spoke out often on political issues. He was a signer of the Reggae Compassionate Act and the creator of the Stop Murder Music movement. Banton began performing at the age of 12, becoming a popular dancehall, ragga and reggae performer, musician and DJ. He broke the record of number one singles in one year that was previously held by reggae artist Bob Marley. 

Gordon Cyril “Butch” Stewart
A well-known Jamaican businessman, Stewart was born in Kingston, Jamaica on July 6, 1941. He owned and chaired numerous companies and business ventures throughout Great Britain, the Caribbean and North America. His financial empire spans the globe, with holdings that include Beaches Family Resorts, the couples only Sandals Resorts, The Jamaica Observer newspaper, and Appliance Traders, Ltd. He was awarded the Caribbean World Magazine’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Carla Campbell
The curvaceous Campbell was born Nov. 22, 1980. The internationally known model appeared in the 2006 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and a variety of promotions for Victoria’s Secret. She was the first Caribbean model to appear in Sports Illustrated and the second to work for Victoria’s Secret. Her clientele includes such well-known names as Avon, L’Oreal, Nike, Target, Footlocker and Seventeen magazine. 

Chris Blackwell
Hailed as one of the most influential people in the music industry worldwide, he’s the founder of Island Records. He counted Bob Marley, Cat Stevens, Grace Jones, Steve Winwood, Melissa Ethridge and U2 among his high profile clients. He was born Christopher Percy Gordon “Chris” Blackwell to a mother of Jamaican ancestry on June 22, 1937. Blackwell worked as a production assistant for the James Bond film Dr. No. in his early years and served as aide-de-camp to the governor of Jamaica. He guided Island Records into the film industry, founding the media entertainment firm of Palm Pictures. He supports a variety of philanthropic interests and is the founder of the Goldeneye Film Festival. Blackwell received the Jamaican Musgrave Medal for excelling in the arts, music and public service, along with the Order of Jamaica for his philanthropic work and contributions to the entertainment industry.