Dennis Brown remembered by those closest to him
Longtime friend and collaborator of Dennis Brown, legendary producer, filmmaker and reggae advocate Junior Lincoln is chairman of the Dennis Brown Trust and director of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association. Through his leadership, Lincoln guides the Dennis Brown Trust to achieve its objectives of empowering the next generation through education, as well as ensuring Dennis Brown’s life and work are preserved and celebrated in the future through the annual Dennis Brown Memorial concert, which was held at the Kingston Waterfront recently. The Trust also helps to provide youngsters with musical instruments and awards through the annual Dennis Emanuel Brown (DEB) bursary for educational achievement to students between the ages of ten and twelve years.
In honor of Dennis Brown’s musical legacy, the National Weekly spoke to Lincoln about his favorite memories of the artist, as well as the trust’s hard work in continue Brown’s legacy for the next generation.
Tell us about the Dennis Brown Trust. What are your ultimate goals and your signature projects?
The trust was formed just after his death, formed by friends, not as a part of his estate, though we have family members who serve on the board. But, it is very important to note that all the funds we use comes from friends of Dennis Brown, which makes it very unique. Dennis Brown was very strong on education. We thought the best way to start this trust was to promote education. We started giving scholarships to the young ones at Brown old school, the Central Branch School in West Kingston. So far we have given scholarship to over 30 students, funding them through high school and straight through to university.
You’ve worked with so many artistes. Tell you how you personally became such a big fan and advocate of Dennis Brown and his music in particular?
I lived in England for some time, and ran one of the bigger record companies in England in the 60s and 70s and I was responsible for releasing the Studio One catalog. The first recording we released was Brown’s “Lips of Wine.” The first one that was released was the second recording, “No Man is an Island” on the Studio One Label. And in 1974, I was a part of the team that brought Dennis Brown to England in 1974, when he was 17. I celebrated his 18th birthday in England with him, signed him to the label. I released some of his records over the years and became a father figure for him.
Why is this upcoming Dennis Brown tribute album from VP Records, “We Remember Dennis Brown,” so important for younger reggae fans to enjoy? And why is Dennis Brown more important than ever for today’s artistes?
It’s extremely important. Unfortunately years ago, a lot of the young artists weren’t aware of the work of Dennis Brown. They would listen to the songs the same way, but they weren’t aware of many the icons behind the music. When talking to the young musicians and artistes during Reggae Month 8 years at the Edna Manley College, I realized they weren’t aware of how revolutionary his work and the work of other greats were to Jamaican music. After that, we made a deliberate attempt to expose the young musicians and artist to the legendary performers that were still living.
And I think this has caused a shift in the music of the Jamaica today. Making them aware, these singers started to study and research, and the result is that more and more young artists are doing conscious music. Without a doubt, this musical roots revival makes me feel good. Because every year for his annual Birthday Tribute Festival, we see more and more young people come to the events, rediscovering him and his work. Dennis Brown is getting larger and larger, after all these years.