STAR Salute: Worrell King in a league of his own

October 24, 2017
File Woerrell King, stage manager for Reggae Sumfest 2018.
In this 2012 file photo, Johnny Gourzong (right) presents stage manager, Worrell King with a long service award at the event's press launch at Iberostar in Montego Bay.
Promoter and stage manager Worrell King (left) accepts a plaque from Reggae's Sumfest's boss, Joe Bogdanovich, for his 25 years of service to the annual music festival.

When it comes to putting on top-flight entertainment events, veteran promoter and stage manager Worrell King is in a league of his own in western Jamaica.

The 62-year-old King, who created classy productions such as Western Consciousness, the Reggae Sanity series and the annual Tribute to Peter Tosh, first fell in love with reggae music in the mid-1970s, and over the past four decades he has been an uncompromising advocate in the promotion of clean roots, rock, reggae music.

"Back then, I was a PE (physical education) teacher. I met Mickey White and Ted Nelson, who were both working as promoters, and they drafted me in as part of their scene," recalled King. "I was there working with them, and over time I realised that I was getting too big for my shoes, and so I had to step out to be on my own."

King's first production was a small event in Kingston, which was a success. Buoyed by that instant success, it paved the way for other major shows, which also went well. King decided to go very big, and he established his own King of Kings Promotion and conceptualised Eastern Consciousness, which was staged in Portland.

Unfortunately, the band that was booked to perform failed to show and King suffered major financial loss.

The son of Haddo in Westmoreland decided to revamp the show, change its name and take it to western Jamaica under the name, Western Consciousness.

"I figured [that] probably there was something I wasn't doing right, and they say the wise men came from the east, but ended up in the west; so as a son of Westmoreland, I decided to head back to the west with the show under a new name," said King. "Western Consciousness went on for 24 consecutive years."

On account of his tight management of Western Consciousness and the other shows that he has promoted, the management of Reggae Sumfest recruited him as a stage manager. He was among a group of persons who were recently honoured for 25 years of dedicated service to the show.

While Western Consciousness has been off the entertainment calendar for the past three years, King is eyeing a major return in 2018 for a 25th staging.

"I want to present it in 2018. I hear the artiste who I really want to present, who is not here now, will be coming out by then," said King. "My dream is to have Buju Banton as the main headliner. It would certainly make the show reach its pinnacle."

King, who has been the chief architect in the drive to clean up reggae music, remains steadfast in his efforts to squash derogatory lyrics and reclaim the purity of former times.

"We want to see things change. If music was playing its rightful role, I am sure we would not be having the killings we are having," King said. "We remain steadfast in our mission to fix the music and put it back on a positive footing."

And words of King's abilities have reached other ears. He was recently recruited to serve as a production manager at the Atlanta, Georgia Jerk Festival in the United States solely because of his professionalism. He is now fine-tuning preparations to have his band SANE (Sound Against Negative Expression) at the Jamaica College auditorium in Kingston next month.

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