July 21, 2005 Christiansted was starting to feel the vibration of the V.I. Rock Steady Reggae weekend Thursday as the stars of the show began arriving at a downtown hotel.
"This is just what St. Croix needs now," St. Croix resident Mada Nile said. "There are so many bad things happening. This music is positive. The message is positive."
She was standing by Freddie McGregor, one of the big names to be performing Friday on St. Croix and Saturday on St. Thomas. She had just gotten her picture taken with McGregor. When asked if she liked his music, she said, "'Like' — you should not even use the word 'like' in the same sentence you use his name. The word is 'love'."
McGregor has been around almost as long as reggae has been. He was performing at the age of 7, and the likes of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh were listening.
He has never stopped singing and says, "I'm just loving it more all the time."
Sitting and talking to reporters in the Caravelle Hotel, his voice was soft with a timbre of amusement seemingly holding it up. His smile was quick and alive. He seemed comfortable with all the people about him and graciously responded to questions and requests for photographs.
He recalled the early days in Jamaica. He said everyone knew Bob Marley was special even before anyone knew anything about marketing or being a superstar. McGregor was the first artist besides Bob Marley to record in Marley's studio.
McGregor has recorded 38 albums and was recently nominated for a Grammy.
The other artists milling around Christiansted were Alton Ellis, Ken Boothe, George Nooks, Illey Dread, Richie Stephens and St. Thomas native Pressure. Pressure released his first album "The Pressure Is On" in June.
They will be performing at the Randall "Doc" James Racetrack on St. Croix on Friday and at the Lionel Roberts Stadium on St. Thomas on Saturday. Rock Steady is billed as being "melodic singing and distinct drums and bass."
McGregor has not been on St. Croix for 11 years, and he said it felt good to return. He did do a show at the Reichhold Center for the Arts in March. It was sold out.
This is Stephen's first visit to St. Croix. He was interested in finding out the size of the island, the population and whether there was much crime on the island. Stephens has released 11 albums.
McGregor released an album this year called "Coming in Tough." He said he is at a point in his career where he can do what he wants. He put on the album a song called "Ohh Child" by the Spiral Staircase. He said, "I loved that song when I was a little kid, so I recorded it."
When it was mentioned that Mick Jagger was taking The Rolling Stones on another tour, McGregor laughed and said, "The man loves it. He can't give it up."
Before he even played any music on St. Croix, McGregor made at least one person happy. Nile said, "It was just a joy meeting him."
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