Well known reggae singer Tinga Stewart describes his treatment by authorities during the recent Jamaica 50 and Festival celebrations as disrespecful. According to Stewart, the most embarrassing moment was standing outside the National Stadium on August 6, while the annual Grand Gala was taking place inside, listening to others perform his Festival songs.
Stewart won the event in 1974 with the Ernie Smith-written Play Di Music; one year later he wrote Hooray Festival, which won the title for his brother, Roman Stewart; and in 1981, Tinga Stewart won again with one of the most popular songs ever, Nuh Wey Nuh Betta Than Yard.
"People came up to me (outside the National Stadium) and asked me, 'A whey yu a do ya so, Tinga? Why yu no inna di show?' I was upset, big time." He said he had cancelled engagements in New York to perform at the Jubilee Village (National Stadium) on August 5, but that show was rained out. However, he still hoped that he would have been able to sing his Festival songs at the Grand Gala the following day. But, that was not to be.
Lenford Salmon, whose Jambiz International produced the Grand Gala, has said that there was no intention to "diss" Stewart. He said there were no plans to include him in the event, either.
"We chose Eric Donaldson because he is the best-known Festival song winner, and we decided on Roy Rayon because of his Fever and Give Thanks and Praise. We could have decided between Tinga and Roy but we didn't see Tinga as part of the line-up at that time," Salmon explained.
Nuh Wey Nuh Betta Dan Yard picked up momentum after the release of the Wray and Nephew White Rum Jamaica 50 ad. But, as far as Stewart is concerned, the treatment he received atthe National Stadium has forced him to reconsider his association with Festival.
"I almost lost my career to Festival. People were characterising me as a Festival song singer once. I couldn't get any shows because of my involvement. It took me 15 albums to fully win back my fan base, but, I was available for Jamaica 50 and they knew it. Somebody didn't want me on the show."
He also did two songs to celebrate Jamaica's 50th anniversary but says they (Let's Celebrate 50 and Big Celebration) have been totally ignored locally.