It all started with an e-mail from Tia Forbes at The Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida some time back. This theater complex is a premiere venue in South Florida and although not quite as vast in scale, it reminds me of Lincoln Center in New York City. It's the theater that people like Jerry Seinfeld and Wayne Newton play when they are in the area. To my pleasant surprise, Tia's note was not an ad for upcoming dates of a touring Broadway show or Cirque du Soliel, it was a request for Reggae12.com to help in the promotion of The 10th Annual Reggaesoca Music Awards Show.
The Reggaesoca Music Awards was first presented in 1994 by its founder Winsome 'Lady C' Charlton at The Bailey Concert Hall in South Florida. Winsome grow up in Jamaica and after High School, migrated to England to continue her education. She answered an ad in a local newspaper that landed her a job as a secretary at the British Broadcasting Company. This would end up being the first step in a history making career in radio broadcasting and the music industry. Soon, as Assistant Producer of BBC's Radio One Club, she got her first opportunity to weave Caribbean music into mainstream culture by putting songs like Desmond Dekker's "Israelite" into regular rotation. No other radio personality had done anything as revolutionary at the BBC.
Winsome spent the 1970's back in Jamaica working with her father, Cecil Charlton, who was Mayor of Mandeville when she returned from England. In 1981 she moved to South Florida and began a radio broadcasting career that has spanned two decades in the States. Among her accomplishments, Winsome Charlton established the first 24-hour Caribbean radio station in America as Station Manager of WAVS in the Miami / Fort Lauderdale radio market and in 1999 she became the first Caribbean-American female to be appointed head of a radio station in the U.S. as General Manager of WVCG AM. Even with everything else going on in her busy life, Winsome can still be heard regularly on the airwaves spinning Reggae and Soca tunes for fans throughout South Florida. She is also co-owner of Hi-Class Promotions but she may well end up be best known for being the founder and driving force behind the Reggaesoca Music Awards.
I talked to Ms. Charlton a couple of times on the phone coordinating a Press Pass to the big event on Saturday, June 28, 2003 and she was delightful even amidst all the last minute craziness that goes along with producing an event of this magnitude. Beyond the show itself, her team was staging an series of music industry seminars and a press party to lead up to the event. I was unable to attend any of the seminars but they were well received and everyone I spoke with who had been involved on panels or was in attendance had nothing but praise for the workshops and presentations. The festivities kicked off for me at the Press Reception held on Friday Night at The Courtyard Marriott in Weston about 12 miles inland from the Performing Arts Center which sits along Fort Lauderdale's Intracoastal waterway.
Many of the participants including Beenie Man, comedian Razor, members of The Fab 5, Luther Mackie, Dr. Harold Robinson the Consulate General of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Fae Ellington, Ce'cile were among those in attendance. Winsome Charlton greeted everyone and introduced her team of dedicated partners who had obviously worked tirelessly both through the years and during the last several weeks to pull this series of events together. The mood was filled with excitement and anticipation.
I got my Press Pass, enjoyed some of the delicious buffet, talked a bit with some of the other guests and headed out to rest up for the main event that would be the following evening.
Go to Part Two of Ras John's Report
Go to Part Three of Ras John's Report
Go to Final Part of Ras John's Report
2004 Nomination Ballot