Over the years, a stellar list of powerful Jamaicans have emerged from the most surprising and unexpected places. The following are a few individuals who have managed to reach the pinnacle of their careers, acquiring power and influence, while striving to create a legacy:
1) The Honorable Michael Lee Chin, OJ
Jamaican-Canadian investor Michael Lee Chin was born in 1951 in Portland, Port Antonio. A graduate of Titchfield High School and McMaster University, Mr. Lee Chin began his career by working for the Jamaican government as a road engineer. He is the Chairman and Founder of Portland Holdings, a privately held investment company in Jamaica, and the Executive Chairman of AIC Limited and National Commercial Bank. Mr. Lee Chin appeared on Forbes Top Ten List of Multiracial Billionaires from 2001 to 2010, ranking Number 701 on the list. His philanthropic endeavors include million dollar donations to institutions such as the Royal Ontario Museum and the Rothman School of Management at the University of Toronto in Canada.
2) The Honorable Portia Simpson-Miller
Portia Lucretia Miller was born on December 12, 1945, in Woodhull, St. Catherine. She served as Jamaica’s Leader to the Opposition, as Prime Minister of Jamaica in 2006-2007 and was the first woman to become Prime Minister of Jamaica. She has been ranked Number 81 on Forbes List of Powerful Women. In 2006, Ms. Simpson-Miller was awarded the Jamaican Order of the Nation, giving her and her husband, Errald Miller the title of “The Most Honorable.”
3) Chris Blackwell
Christopher Percy Gordon “Chris” Blackwell was born on June 22, 1937. His mother Blanche Lindo was of Jamaican descent and belonged to an affluent family who acquired their wealth through sugar and Appleton Rum. Chris Blackwell has been a music industry mogul for more than 50 years. He is the founder of Island Records and is responsible for introducing reggae to the world. He has produced such artists as Ike and Tina Turner, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Burning Spear and Black Uhuru, to name a few. He is also the founder of Palm Pictures and the creator of the Golden Eye Film Festival, which honors Jamaicans who excel in music and the arts. He was awarded the Order of Jamaica for his exemplary work in the entertainment industry in 2004. The Blackwell family name has been the inspiration for the new “Blackwell Fine Jamaican Rum.” Chris Blackwell currently runs Island Outpost, a conglomerate set up to run a group of resorts located in Jamaica and the Bahamas. He has been named the most influential music mogul in British music in the past 50 years.
4) Paula Kerr-Jarrett
An attorney-at-law, philanthropist, political contender for Eastern Hanover constituency and an influential presence in Jamaican society. She is the great-granddaughter of Marion Louise Reece Bovell, the first woman in Jamaica to run as an independent candidate in the general elections of 1944. She is linked by marriage to the prominent Jarret family, the owners of the Barrett Estate in Montego Bay.
5) Edward Alston Cecil Baugh
Mr. Baugh was born on January 10, 1936, in Jamaica. He has served as an intellectual mentor and trusted teacher. He was a Professor at the University of the West Indies for approximately 35 years and also served as a visiting professor at institutions such as the University of California, Dalhousie University, the University of Miami and Howard University. He is well known and revered for his scholastic achievements and his flawless record of academic, administrative and public service. Mr. Baugh was awarded the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize and Guyana’s prize for literature. He has been responsible for the cultivation of many distinguished intellectuals and their careers.
6) Dr. Blossom O’Meally-Nelson served as Jamaica’s first female Postmaster General. A former librarian and missionary to the Turks and Caicos Islands, she was award Jamaica’s Order of Distinction, Commander Class, for her exceptional public service. She is the founding director of the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica and the chair of the Jamaica Conservation Trust. She also serves as the CEO of the Aeromar Group.
7) Ziggy Marley
Born David Nesta Marley on October 17, 1968, he is the eldest son of the legendary Bob Marley and the singer and leader of the Melody Makers Band. To date, Ziggy Marley has released some fifteen albums. Founder of Unlimited Resources Giving Enlightenment (URGE), a children’s charity, he is also a supporter of Little Kids Rock, a non-profit organization for children. He is married to Orly Marley, the former vice-president of The William Morris Agency, They have six children.
8) Lady Saw
Born Marion Hall on July 12, 1968, Lady Saw is a prominent Jamaican reggae artist, dancehall queen and Grammy award winner. She founded Divas Records and is well known for her socially conscious lyrics that promote freedom of speech and safe sex.
9) Damian Marley
Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley was born on July 21, 1978. He is a Jamaican reggae artist and the winner of three Grammy awards. He is the youngest son of reggae legend Bob Marley. To date, he has released four albums. In 2011, he collaborated on Mick Jagger’s musical project called “SuperHeavy” with Joss Stone, which featured the single “Miracle Worker.”
Born Orville Richard Burrell on October 22, 1968, he is an influential Jamaican reggae singer and rapper. He became famous for his singles “Bombastic,” “It Wasn’t Me” and “Angel.” He was nick named “Shaggy” because of his plentiful curly hair. Shaggy was awarded the Jamaican Order of Distinction with the rank of Commander in 2007. In 2011, he released an album entitled, “Shaggy and Friends.”