OF the countless sound systems Jamaica has produced, few match the achievements of Stone Love, which celebrates its 44th anniversary
Winston ‘Wee Pow’ Powell, the man who started Stone Love in the Molynes Road area of Kingston in 1972, will receive the Order of Distinction during the National Honours and Awards ceremony at King’s House on October 20.
In a 2002 interview with the Observer marking Stone Love’s 30th anniversary, Powell spoke about
its origins and its rise as a
“Stone Love is an enterprise now…In 1972 it was a baby soun’,” he said. “The majority a people start know ’bout Stone Love from ’83 when wi start play inna the ghetto.”
Born in Manchester , Powell’s little-engine-that-could roared in the late-1980s when its audience expanded to include ‘uptowners’ and corporate Jamaica . When dancehall music and culture took off in the 1990s, Stone Love’s popularity soared from Kingston to Brooklyn, London
and Tokyo .
Music producer Paul Lowe-Chin credits Powell’s attention to detail for Stone Love’s endurance.
“Him have a ear for the thing dat no other sound’ man have. He’s a perfectionist, him neva stop till him get things right,” said Lowe-Chin.
Like many sound systems that emerged in the 1970s, Stone Love was a ‘soul set’ which played house parties and the occasional big dance. According to Powell, he was inspired by the approach of Gemini, another Molynes Road sound system that ruled the roost up to the late-1980s.
Stone Love was the ‘soun’ to follow by the 1990s, with its fans including top artistes and the flamboyant Black Roses Crew. Some of its selectors, including Rory Gilligan, became celebrities.
The jump in acclaim influenced Powell to start the Stone Love label which was just as successful. It released hit songs by Sanchez (Falling in Love), Tony Curtis (Love Should Have Brought you Home) and Hands in The Air by
Singer Marcia Griffiths, musicians Bobby Ellis, Dwight Pinkney and Phil Chen, Carl Brady (a founding member of Byron Lee and the Dragonaires), sculptor Laura Facey and theatre stalwart Douglas Bennett have also been recognised in this year’s list