A Bittersweet Grammy Victory For The Toots’ Family

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toots grammy award winner

Frederick ‘Toots’ Hibbert earning a posthumous Grammy Award yesterday for his album ‘ Got To Be Tough’ has been described as “bittersweet” by his daughter Jenieve Hibbert-Bailey.

“It is bittersweet because he is not here to receive it, but a win to say the least. To see that the industry has recognised dad’s hard work and really voted for an album that actually took him about 10 years to put together is overwhelming,” she said.

Hibbert, the pioneer and leadman for groundbreaking reggae and ska group Toots and The Maytals, died on September 11, 2020 due to complications due to COVID-19. He won the Best Reggae Album category for the compilation, which, according to Hibbert-Bailey, sends a positive message to the world, “to find a path that focuses on loving each other and the courage to take on trying times”.

Got To Be Tough was released last August by Trojan BMG Records and came 16 years after the band won the Grammy for its True Love album in the same category. Hibbert-Bailey said that her father’s work “speaks for itself”.

“I understand the empathy the world sends toward our family is real, but anyone who has listened and who will listen to Got To Be Tough will agree that it is excellence deserving of an award,” she said. “He has always had this ability to fuse reggae with different genres, that blows your mind – it’s exceptional and unique – there is much to be celebrated.”

Third World founding member Cat Coore admitted some of the rhetoric would revolve around Hibbert winning due to sentiment, or that he’s recognised only after passing away.

“(But) I listened to it and it’s well, well deserved,” Coore told THE STAR. “I want to say a huge congratulations to Toots. Even though he is not around in the flesh, I am sure he is totally thrilled and it’s also a win for Jamaica, just as it is for Toots, all the musicians, and his family. We may have lost a great man but let’s celebrate and stay safe and focused as Jamaicans.”

Hibbert’s manager, Cabel Stephenson, though emotional about the win, sent congratulations to the production team.

“For BMG’s hard work and investment, Claude Mills for doing a tremendous job as his publicist, all the musicians, persons like Nigel Burrell, his engineer in studio and on the road, who acts as co-producer on the album and his family and I hope people appreciate the work that has been put into the music,” Stephenson said. “It’s a great moment for the industry and roots reggae music and for music of those who have even passed, Bob Marley, Toots and U-Roy… .”

Culture Minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange hailed Hibbert as a ‘musical genius’. “While we remain saddened by his untimely passing, we are comforted by the fact that his creative excellence and musical genius has, again, been recognised,” Grange said, while also lauding the other nominees.

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