Reggae salutes Rastafarian icon Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I with tribute

Jared Mccallister of the Daily News looks at a forthcoming commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the coronation of Haile Selassie during the CPR’s annual Reggae Culture Salute.

It may be news to some, but reggae music owes a great debt of gratitude to the late Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I. For decades, Carlyle McKetty and Sharon Gordon of the Coalition to Preserve Reggae Music have recognized his influence and continue to pay him tribute. “People don’t understand the popularity of Selassie,” said Gordon. “We’ve been doing this since the early ’90s,” she said of the event marking the coronation of Emperor Selassie and Empress Mennen.
The CPR commemoration – noting the 80th anniversary of the Nov. 2, 1930, coronation takes place Saturday at CPR’s annual Reggae Culture Salute. Reggae greats Ernie Smith and Big Youth will be featured stars. “We try to look at how his life and work influenced the Rastafarian movement and reggae music,” said McKetty, CPR’s president. The tribute features an educational performance of traditional nyahbinghi drumming by Junior Wedderburn, master drummer for Broadway’s “The Lion King” musical, added McKetty.
There will also be a screening of a biographical video on Selassie, who gained international fame for leading his nation’s battle against fascist Italy prior to World War II, working toward African unity in the 1960s and reigning as a spiritual inspiration for members of the Jamaica-born Rastafarian movement.
Smith and Big Youth will receive congressional proclamations from Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn) during the Brooklyn event at Nazareth Regional High School Performance Center, 475 E. 57th St. (between Clarendon Road and Avenue D) at 9 p.m. Doors open at 8 p.m.

Smith will star in the lineup with Big Youth, African Brothers group member Tony Tuff, Sugar Minott protégé Nahki, deejay Mikey (Mack Daddy) Jarrett and Tom Tom Club group front man Mystic Bowie, who will perform in tribute to Minott, who died this year.
For information and tickets, call (718) 421-6927 or send email to and visit

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