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Toots' 'Light' shines bright at Grammys
published: Sunday | January 20, 2008

Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer
Toots Hibbert

Sadeke Brooks, Gleaner Writer

With over 45 years in the music business, Frederick 'Toots' Hibbert has managed to stay current. And in the process he has earned another Grammy nomination in the Best Reggae Album category, this one for Light Your Light, coming after his win two years ago with True Love.

Toots says he is excited about this nomination but would still be happy if the award went to another of the other nominees. "Whether I get it or not I will be happy. It is there for me to get it. I hope other people to get it too," said a tired Toots during the video shoot with Macka Diamond for his song Don't Bother Me.

There are 12 tracks on the album, which was released in August last year on Concord Records' Fantasy Label.


In addition to Macka Diamond, there are other collaborations, such as Johnny Coolman with Derek Trucks and Premature with Bonnie Raitt, as well as Toots' originals and covers.

This is Toots' fourth Grammy nomination and he says his fans were given a treat as this is one of his best. "The sales have been doing good. They are saying good things and they love it," said Toots.

He is especially excited about his collaboration with Macka Diamond, as this is his first with a female artiste. He says he intends to do other collaborations with Macka Diamond, in which they will 'Macka it up'.

"Because me and Macka are on this album I think it can be a sure shot. We just want to deliver good songs," said the artiste who is leader of the band Toots and the Maytals.

Initially, there were three members in The Maytals, but there was an eventual split as the other members decided to retire from music. However, Toots has held on to 'Maytals' as he was the creator of the name. The 'Maytals', he says, is the name he has assigned to his band.

"I will share the name with anyone who comes with me on stage and I want to share it with Macka next. Maytals means you're humble and you do things good and you are well popular; then you are Maytal," he said.

Toots has had an extensive career in the music industry. He has been credited as one of the persons who coined the name 'reggae' with his early '70s song Do The Reggay. His sound is unique, original and a combination of gospel, ska, soul, reggae and rock.

He got his start in gospel music while singing in the church. When he moved to Kingston in 1961 he eventually got his start in professional music with Henry 'Raleigh' Gordon and Nathaniel 'Jerry' McCarthy.

Many achievements

Gordon and McCarthy helped him to form the Maytals, who did their first album Never Grow Old - presenting the Maytals, for producer Clement 'Sir Coxsone' Dodd at Studio One in 1962. After that he went on to work with Prince Buster, Byron Lee, Leslie Kong and Warwick Lyn.

His long career has been marked by many achievements. But he says he has no problem staying current in the business.

"I go to training and I try to eat less. I hardly sleep. I am even wearing my glasses, 'cause I don't get any sleep. Last night I went to bed long after 3 o'clock but I just have to keep going," he said during an interview with The Sunday Gleaner on Wednesday.

In the meantime, he says he will be focusing on the Toots Foundation, but he wants assistance as he does not have all the funds to make it a success. He has been in Jamaica for a short time and says his next move might be a tour to Australia.

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