Not Just a Man: Beres Hammond Grateful for Career Journey to Honorary Doc

Source : Jamaica Observer

While reggae icon Dr Hugh Beresford Hammond has certainly secured his musical legacy that spans over 50 years, he noted that his career had a rocky start.

This revelation was made during a brief acceptance speech at The University of the West Indies, Mona, (The UWI) on Saturday after he was conferred with the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.

“Dem actually write sumn fi mi seh ’bout mi life, but mi nuh can seh it without reading, man,” Hammond said after he gave recognition to several dignitaries, including Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia “Babsy” Grange.

“[I] started when I was about 11 [years old] and [my] father neva like it. My madda back mi and she help me fi run weh from the country come ah town… real story. So, I started there — boxing over here, boxing over here, and boxing everywhere until I could find a place of my own,” he added.

The honorary degree was presented to him by chancellor of The UWI Robert Bermudez.

The musical icon noted that he was determined to pursue his passion after being inspired by multiple renowned artistes.

“I was inspired by Alton Ellis, Stevie Wonder, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, and folks like that. So I used to listen [to] them, like every day, and became myself after a while,” he said.

The St Mary-born Hammond started his career in the early 1970s with Zap Pow Band. Later that decade he had several R&B hits, among them One Step Ahead, produced by Willie Lindo, who also directed him on What One Dance Can Do, the 1985 single that set his remarkable sequence of hit songs in motion.

He expressed gratitude for the support through the years.

“Suh mi start out wid a little song ‘one step ahead and you’re up…’, unuh nuh know that? Mi gwaan and gwaan and gwaan until dem give me some more. I make good songs and you [the fans] turn them into hits for me. I want to thank all of you for that,” Hammond said.

“Love all a yuh! Thanks for the years of support. Thank you for letting me into your homes. Thank you for letting me into your hearts.”

The speech ended with the icon rendering lyrics to No Goodbye, Doctor’s Orders, and Rockaway.

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