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Joseph ’Culture’ Hill laid to rest

12 September 2006 at 08:25 | 1931 views

By: Claude Mills
Photo By: Sista Irie

The rows of empty pews spoke volumes about the scant regard that most Jamaicans appeared to convey towards an icon who was revered in the West African countries of Ghana and Nigeria, but treated with only an iota of that same accord and awe in his native country.

Still, a large number of friends, family and members of the entertainment fraternity turned out to bid ’Culture’ farewell in a beautiful ceremony occasioned by several musical and spiritual highs on Saturday at the the Emmanuel Apostolic Church, 12 Slipe Road in Kingston.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, Lloyd Evans (member of the Joseph ’Culture’ Hill Planning Committee), Neville Willoughby of RJR, Natalie Corthesy, senior director of entertainment policy, family member, Erica Hill-Myers all gave glowing tributes to the fallen music icon. Afrine Hill-Walker delivered the eulogy.
Speaking with, his son, Kenyatta, who will take up the mantle of being the lead singer of the Culture band, vowed to continue his father’s legacy.

"He was a wonderful man, loving, supportive, all anyone could ask for in a father, he was the one who guided me through, and I will walk proudly in his footsteps," he said.

Kenyatta and the Culture band will begin a tour of three continents, North America, Europe and Africa beginning October 14th.

"In Sierra Leone, rebels wanted him, and he said ’I will only go if you put the gun down while I am here’. If you read his website, you will see it, he asked us to put down the gun, and guess what, we put the gun down. Did you know that, Jamaica? That’s the man," Lloyd Evans said. "The man knew his God, there is only one God and Joseph knew him."

Prime Minister Miller called him a "towering representative of our homegrown idiom, reggae’, and lauded his "gritty melodious voice, keen ear for harmony, earthy humour, stylish dress and electrifying performances".

"Joseph Hill, your train is bound for glory, rest well, my inspiration," Prime Minister Miller intoned passionately.

Rastafarians and Christians sat shoulder-to-shoulder in a ceremony tinged by reggae and beautiful traditional Christian music. Spontaneous applause broke out during the Bethel Mass Choir’s rendition of ’Leaning on the Everlasting Arm’.

Notables in attendance included Bongo Herman, Louis ’Flabba’ Holt, Audrey Reid, producer Joe Gibbs and his son, Rocky, and JFM President Dezzie Young. Promoter Cristoph Tewes, who was the promoter of the German club tour during which Joseph died, was also in attendance.

Hill was buried at the Dovecot Memorial Park , in St Catherine, his native parish.

In a career spanning over 30 years, Culture has toured extensively in Africa (where he has a huge fan-base), Israel, Japan, Britain and Northern Europe.

Interestingly, there was a service of thanksgiving in Ghana for Hill on the same day as the one in Jamaica .

Not many artistes showed up at the funeral itself, but they had already celebrated his life on the previous night, September 8th, with a memorable night of performances at the bursting-at-the-seams Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre.

The lineup consisted of Luciano, Anthony B, Bob Andy, Big Youth, U Roy, Jimmy Riley, George Nooks, Tony Rebel, Dean Fraser, Tamlins, Leroy Sibbles, Carlene Davis, Taurus Riley, Josie Wales, Natty King, Lovindeer, Prodigal, Junior Kelly, Bunny Brown, Nadine Sutherland, Sly Dunbar, Peter Lloyd, Lloyd Parkes, Gullibanque, Limey, Boscom X, Mystic Revealers, Grace Thrillers, Pam Hall, Charlie Chaplin, Mighty Diamonds, Toots, Queen Ifrica, Bankie Banx, Etana, Katalyst Crew, Chuck Fender and more. MCs will be Tommy Cowan, Mutabaruka and Denise Miller.