Jah Spirit Stage named in honour of beloved MC.
The Wilkswood Reggae Festival is proud and honoured to be naming its acoustic & spoken word stage at this year’s event after the beloved Jah Spirit who sadly passed away on Sunday February 18th, aged 71. The legendary MC and vegan pasta chef had become a regular character at the festival and, despite our heavy hearts, we feel it’s a fitting tribute to name the Jah Spirit Stage in his honour.
Spirit (born Lowell Grant) was a well-known figure in his home patch of Hackney. He started out selling meals and fresh fruit from his van at places like the Notting Hill Carnival before opening a grocery shop in Broadway Market in 1991. Spirit spent the last ten years of his life battling Hackney Council’s decision to evict him after they sold the shop to local property developers but he found solace – and earned much respect – by helping vulnerable young people learn to cook and eat more healthily through teaching Caribbean-style vegan Ital food classes at the charity Made in Hackney.
Its founder Sarah Bentley, who was friends with him for 15 years, remembers him fondly: “It really has been the biggest honour to have Spirit by our side. He supported me and my family for over a decade with his laughter, wisdom and homegrown corn-on-the-cobs. He was an amazing community cookery teacher. People loved his often hilarious delivery style and natural way with people. He hated lesson plans and set recipes which always kept us all on our toes – he liked to go with the flow and cook from the heart.”
Jah Spirit was regular MC on the soundsytem circuit and he appeared with Green Lion at last year’s Wilkswood Reggae Festival. His vigorous bon homie and infectious joy of life truly brought colour and happiness to everyone he met and he became the ‘face of the festival’. He was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and after a short battle he sadly passed away. He leaves behind ten children, ten grandchildren and three great grand children as well as many brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and many many friends from around the globe.
The Jah Spirit Stage presents an eclectic array of acoustic acts, DJs, poets, spoken word performers and comedians and it seems only fitting that this array of talent should be gathered to celebrate the great man’s memory. This year the performers include acclaimed author Kei Miller, DJ Dapper Dan (the ‘Reggae Town Crier’), Bournemouth’s Poet Laureate Myriam San Marco, DJ Ted at the Controls and singer/songwiter Alex Hedley.
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