Omar ‘Tarrus’ Riley, looking clean and sharp in black and white, strode up to the podium and was conferred with the Order of Distinction (OD) by Governor General Patrick Allen during yesterday’s national honours and awards ceremony at King’s House in St Andrew.
For the reggae singer who has earned the name Singy Singy, the OD is more meaningful than a Grammy award, and he is happy that throughout his career, he has kept in the conscious lane musically.
“I don’t want a Grammy; I don’t want nutten else. This OD is good. That is the big ting about it … to know that yuh a come from zero … from humble beginnings … and you can get an award from yuh people. And mi mother deh yah and a get fi see it. This is a big thing,” the She’s Royal singer said.
Perhaps for the first time in his life, Tarrus could not find words to describe his feeling.
“Wow! Wow! I feel, wow!” he said with a smile. “I never expected this. This was far beyond my expectations. I didn’t even think that so many people were paying attention to what we were doing. I was just doing what I love and tek it serious. I heard about the OD from a friend of my father’s [late singer Jimmy Riley], It’s a big thing,” Riley shared.
A Rastafarian, Tarrus Riley, who released his debut album, ‘Challenges’, in 2004, strives to produce conscious music.
“The reason why I keep it conscious is because I know that people are listening … like youths. As a youth, I use to idolize artiste and look up to them, and I remember seeing my artiste dem and wanting to be like them. Mi nuh perfect, but mi don’t want to lead any lickle youth inna some way that dem not suppose to go. That is the truth,” he said.
The entertainer was also willing to share the glory and emphasised that his journey was never solo because there were always persons around to give him an assist.
“Even though I am here collecting it, I couldn’t do it by myself. Man like Dean Fraser, who is a mentor to me, and even my bredren here with me, news – dem man deh – encourage me long time before we a expect any government thing. A some tune we a write and a tek di music serious and want to do it conscious, and we deh a King’s House and a get a national award. Is a big thing, man,” the Lion Paw singer reiterated.
Tarrus Riley has performed on several stages across the globe. He tours Europe once each year, performing at the major reggae festivals there. Among his hits are ‘Start Anew’, ‘Contagious’, ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’, and ‘Shaka Zulu Pickney’, which paved the way for the Tarrus Riley Freedom Writers Competition.
His 2014 album, ‘Love Situation’, debuted at number one on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart.