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Godfather of Dancehall Dies Day After Scheduled Show

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Lincoln Barrington Minott, popularly known as Sugar Minott, died at University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica, on July 10. 

    Minott, who had been scheduled to perform at the WorldBeat Center in San Diego the day before his death, suffered from an unknown heart condition, according to his wife, Maxine Stowe. I was en route to the show when I received a phone call alerting me that he had  canceled his appearance due to a seriously illness. Makeda "Dread" Cheatom, the director of the WorldBeat Center, posted the cancellation on the site's website and also offered a $3 refund on advanced purchased tickets at the door.

    Minott was admitted to the hospital last Friday and died shortly after 10 p.m. the following day.

    A prolific songwriter and producer, Minott changed and revolutionized reggae by voicing over music tracks, thus being credited as the founder of dancehall reggae. Initially a roots and rock-steady artist while part of the African Brothers, Minott produced dancehall anthems, including "Mr. DC" and "Vanity" as a solo artist.  His first international hit was a cover of the Jackson Five's "Good Thing Going," which popularized him in the United Kingdom.

    Minott never forgot his ghetto roots in Kingston and founded his own label Black Roots and the Youth Promotion sound system. Artists including Jr. Reid, Tenor Saw and Barrington Levy recorded on the label and DJs Ranking Joe and Jah Stitch spinned tunes on the system. His philanthropic work is what he was loved for in Jamaica.

    "Sugar Minott is a real, real great person, singer and artist," Tarrus Riley said.  "He and I just did dub plates together, and I was shocked about the news."

    Doctors in Jamaica advised Minott to rest and not to travel, but touring is how most music artists make their money, especially in the reggae genres. Royalties from earlier works are difficult to obtain, and many foundation artists struggle financially. Minott recently canceled shows in Canada and New York, as well as the performance at the WorldBeat Center.

    Cheatom was stunned by the news and struggled emotionally with the loss of another reggae legend. 

    "Minott is huge, he's big," Cheatom said. "He helped others before he helped himself, and he never got what was due to him."

    in recognition of the financial strains many such artists face, Cheatom created an organization to help assist the artists.

    "Positive Hope Foundation is a nonprofit to help fund reggae foundation artists' health insurance, [provide] assistance with technology and much more," Cheatom said.

    Minott, who was struggling financially, died intestate, according to Stowe. Reggae artists and their fans are very familiar with the struggles and legal challenges that Bob Marley's children and his widow, Rita Marley, experienced accessing the reggae legend's estate after he, too, died intestate. 

    When he died, Minott was transferring music from cassette tapes and vinyl to CDs for future royalties challenges. His music catalog includes more than 60 albums that will live and carry on his talent. Fire Pashon (Tamar Minott), his daughter, has been performing some of his songs and will continue to due so.

    DJs, radio stations and other artists across the world have been paying tribute to Minott since his death.

    Reflecting on the reggae legend's passing, Gramps Morgan of the reggae group Morgan Heritage said, "Sugar Minott is my family and he will be missed. His works in the music will never be forgotten -- a true icon of reggae and dancehall music."

    Cheatom said, "the 30th anniversary of the Tribute to the Reggae Legends will be dedicated to my friend Sugar Minott."