by Howard Campbell
SOUTH FLORIDA – Denver “JAMUSA” Silvera has ‘rammed’ many a dance as a sound system selector. He still gets a thrill, 60 years after making his debut in his native Jamaica.
A pioneer of South Florida’s reggae scene, the jocular JAMUSA celebrates six decades in the music business on September 4 with a party at Gold Choice Ballroom in Margate.
JAMUSA, has been a broadcaster on WAVS 1170 AM since 1988. He will be joined by friends including singers Audley Rollen, Barry Biggs, Marcia Ball, Hal Anthony and Wayne Armond as well as sound system colleague, Waggy T.
Known for his folksy manner, he is humbled to reach a landmark in a career that covered the dance and broadcasting arenas in Jamaica, New York and South Florida.
“How blessed I am that the Creator sustained me this long. Very few of us in this line of work have lasted this long so I give thanks everyday. It’s a joyful feeling when you do something that you love,” said JAMUSA, who cut his teeth on the famed Jamaican Jack Ruby Hi Fi during the 1960s.
That sound system was owned by Lawrence “Jack Ruby” Lindo, a flamboyant personality who produced Marcus Garvey, Burning Spear’s epic 1976 album. Lindo is also the grandfather of pop star Sean Kingston.
A decade later, JAMUSA joined Mello Canary, one of the leading ‘sounds’ in Jamaica. It remains his most fruitful time as a sound system selector.
He also made a name on Caribbean radio in the Big Apple, where he migrated to in the late 1960s. He worked at WWRL, a R&B station which had a weekly reggae show that kept the region’s growing Jamaican community in tune with the latest songs back home.
It was while in South Florida with Mello Canary that JAMUSA decided to lay down roots here. His first gig was at WAVS, then a broker station with Latin ownership. He currently hosts the long-running show, Making Tracks With JAMUSA.
The self-described “little country boy from Free Hill in St. Mary” (parish in eastern Jamaica) commented on the changing face of Caribbean radio in South Florida.
“Times change and most so-called Disc Jockeys are not announcers. These street Disc Jockeys only remember that they have the freedom of speech but they forget this also comes with responsibility. To me, reggae music is and should be the upliftment of the soul, not a music that put down our people.”