It’s been a long time comin’
All systems are a go for Grammy award-winning reggae/dancehall star Buju Banton’s New Providence stop on his Long Walk To Freedom Tour, and Banton himself says it’s time to reconnect with his Bahamian fans.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you. It’s been a long time since you’ve seen me, however, we shall see each other soon,” said Banton in a pre-recorded message at a press launch event for his March 30 performance at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
“[I] remember years coming to Nassau, Bahamas, and playing the National Stadium with Waggy Tee, Wayne Wonder – coming back many times after that … the fun we had. Now it’s time for us to reconnect and pick up where we left off.”
Ronnie Tomlinson, Banton’s publicist, said the reggae/dancehall superstar is excited and in a “ready frame of mind” to see his fans.
“We look forward to this show, and to know that Buju has a lot to tell his fans, and his performance is one that is going to be energetic, but one that is going to be epic and historical,” said Tomlinson.
As far as rehearsals, the band rehearses four days and Banton performs with them on three days, as they prepare for the tour, according to Tomlinson.
“He’s still working out, he’s energetic, so he’s in a great frame of mind.”
Tomlinson addressed concerns raised by some quarters that the reggae/dancehall star would perform the homophobic “Boom Bye Bye” — a song which gay rights groups have protested over the years; she assured that he wouldn’t.
“One thing that we want to make everyone know is that Buju has not sung that song for years. That song has been removed from his set, and is also a song that he has never made a dollar off of, and he will not be singing or performing that song. So as far as any concerns, that’s just something we just want everyone to know – that, that song is not part of his set.”
Banton is expected to perform a two-hour set.
An additional four artists, including a local artist, are expected to join him on stage.
“Trust me, it will be an amazing show,” said Fernerin Hanna, Paradise Productions publicist. “The set-up alone will be like nothing we’ve ever seen.”
Banton’s New Providence performance will be one of the first since his release from prison, and will come on the heels of the tour’s March 16 kickoff concert at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica, where he and his 10-piece Shiloh Band will perform a 90-minute set. The Jamaica concert will be the first performance for the 45-year-old, born Mark Anthony Myrie. Banton spent nearly eight years at the McRae Correctional Institution in Georgia, since headlining the Buju Banton and Friends Before the Dawn event at Miami’s Bayfront Park Amphitheater on January 16, 2011.
Banton’s first ever performance in The Bahamas was in 1992; that concert was promoted by Les Turnquest. His last performance in The Bahamas before his incarceration was in 2009. A decade later Banton is returning to a Bahamian stage.
Banton was arrested at his Tamarac, Florida home for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine. On February 3, 2011, Banton’s “Before The Dawn” (released on his Gargamel Music label) won the best reggae album Grammy. Banton was unable to attend the ceremony. His trial began the following day in Tampa, Florida. On February 22, Banton was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in a federal prison.
He was returned home to Jamaica on the evening of December 7, 2018.
Future confirmed stops on the Long Walk To Freedom Tour include an April 21 show in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; April 27 concert in Bridgetown, Barbados; May 4 performance in Suriname; May 11 performance Grenada; and June 26-30 Basseterre show at the St. Kitts Music Festival.
As he prepares to return to the concert stage, fans remember Banton as the reggae/dancehall performer who broke Bob Marley’s record for the greatest number of number-one singles in 1992. His album “Mr. Mention” became the best-selling album in Jamaican history upon its release.
He is a five-time Grammy Award nominee, having earned Best Reggae Album for “Inna Heights” (1999); “Friends For Life” (2004); “Too Bad” (2007); “Rasta Got Soul” (2010); and “Before The Dawn”, which won the music industry’s highest honor in 2011.
Early bird ticket prices for Banton’s New Providence stop on the Long Walk To Freedom Tour, if obtained before March 1, are $65 for general admission; $125 for VIP; $200 for platinum; and $350 for all-access passes, which include backstage access, hors d’oeuvres, complimentary parking and a preferred entrance and exit. The all-access passes do not include a meet-and-greet.
Tickets can be purchased at Cash N’ Go outlets or at tickets.cashngobahamas.com; Aliv outlets in Harbour Bay Shopping Plaza, Mall at Marathon and Southwest Plaza; or at the official site paradiseproductionsinc.com.
Event sponsors include Aliv/REV, SuperClub Breezes, Cash N’ Go, NSA, ClearSound Productions and Dames Group & Falcon Security.
BUJU BANTON LONG WALK TO FREEDOM TOUR
When: Saturday, March 30
Where: Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium
Tickets: (Early bird prices before March 1)
$65 general admission,
$350 all-access (includes backstage access, hors d’oeuvres, complimentary parking and a preferred entrance and exit)
Ticket outlets: Cash N’ Go outlets or at tickets.cashngobahamas.com; Aliv outlets in Harbour Bay Shopping Plaza, Mall at Marathon and Southwest Plaza; or at Paradiseproductionsinc.com.
Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.