Across the Border: Kingston Bids a Hero Farewell

Words and photos by Martei Korley

Ranny Williams Centre filled to capacity

Ranny Williams Centre filled to capacity

Among the many activities surrounding the memorial services for Gregory Isaacs, who recently succumbed to lung cancer, perhaps none highlighted the adoration of The Cool Ruler more than the musical send-off held at the Ranny Williams Centre in Kingston this past Thursday (November 18th).

Jah Youth was there

Jah Youth was there

A free concert scheduled there as a nine-night/set-up (local burial tradition in which a large memorial and social gathering often blur the lines) for the fans and family, turned into a wholesale  celebration of the man and his catalog. For about two weeks the news media had been brimming with stories and anecdotes about the beloved son of Fletcher’s Land, downtown Kingston, who rose to international stardom singing about the most universal of subjects. Love.

The lovely June Isaacs, Gregory's Wife

The lovely June Isaacs, Gregory's Wife

Gregory was quoted saying that he wanted to be remembered as man who sang of love and spread the message of love. And there is plenty of love out there for him, judging by the accolades being doled out from all sides. Even his famous struggle with cocaine addiction hasn’t blighted the public view of Greg’ry, the man who would drive his brethren to school; The family man, the singer.

Tarrus Riley and Junior Cat, backstage

Tarrus Riley and Junior Cat, backstage

Kingston’s musical fraternity came out in force tipping their hats to the man in the off-white three-piece suit with a 5-hour concert. From the Gregory Isaacs soundalike contest winners to a host of celebrities,  all helped Gregory “cross the border” one last time…

Queen Ifrika rallied the fans for a big forward although she forgot the lyrics to Gregory Isaacs' "Front Door"

Queen Ifrika rallied the fans for a big forward although she forgot the lyrics to Gregory Isaacs' "Front Door"

Beres performed a sizzling set and stepped off the stage in a rare form

Beres performed a sizzling set and stepped off the stage in a rare form

U-Roy shares a laught with Nitty Kutchie

U-Roy shares a laugh with Nitty Kutchie

Mr. Boombastic and Clifton "Specialist" Dillon was there...

Mr. Boombastic and Clifton "Specialist" Dillon were there...

King Yellowman looks on as Josey Wales and Jah Youth share a joke

King Yellowman looks on as Josey Wales and Jah Youth share a joke

Legendary Soundman, Jack Scorpio, puts in his two cents.

Legendary Soundman Jack Scorpio, puts in his two cents.

Guitarist Bo-Pee and band leader Lloyd Parks flank The Cool Ruler

Guitarist Bo-Pee and band leader Lloyd Parks flank The Cool Ruler