Come Monday, October 21, veteran producer Augustus ‘Gussie’ Clarke will be conferred the Order of Distinction (OD) in the rank of commander, for distinguished contribution in the field of music. Having done his due diligence in the entertainment industry since he began his career in the 1970s, an overwhelmed Clarke told The Sunday Gleaner that it was only a matter of time before his work was recognised at the national level by the powers that be.
“It’s one of the things I knew was coming. the only thing I didn’t know was when. The kind of work that I have done over the years and the sentiment expressed by persons within the industry, it’s not something I am necessarily shocked about,” Clarke said. “It could have been last year, or the year before, I just knew it would happen. But still, it’s one of those things that ultimately, you are happy and grateful for. It feels good to know that something like this has happened within my lifetime and not posthumously.”
Clarke, who has had an illustrious career, spanning more than three decades, said that he has never been motivated by thoughts of being rewarded for his work. He said that music has allowed him a lifetime of doing what he loves and, for him, that has been his biggest award. “I have never been working for anything other than doing what I love and doing what should be done. It turns out that a lot of people believed that in so doing, the work was at a good standard worth rewarding. The most two popular responses I have been hearing so far are that this is well deserved and long overdue. But, I don’t work to be rewarded. I do this because I love it, and I have a mission to impact and inspire those up and coming to continue the development of an industry we all love.”
Clarke admits, however, that the Order of Distinction will hold a special place in his heart. “Based on my personality, accolades and awards have never excited me. I have received so many in my lifetime that I’m running out of space to put them. But getting an award from your own country, your own people, does feel very special.”
Clarke told The Sunday Gleaner that the country was falling into the habit of honouring people when they pass on and are unable to enjoy the fruits of their labour but says that that practice has improved in recent times. “I think in the whole field of culture and entertainment, they (the government) have far improved, and I think it has a lot to do with the current minister, who is a child of the industry. She has made a difference in how priorities align, and she digs deeper into finding people who were once forgotten,” he said. “At one time, these awards were only for people of a certain academic or social standing, but now it’s attainable by the common man, whose great work in their respective field is well established.”
The producer, who owns and operates Anchor Studios in Kingston, says his legacy in music is set. “I think that I have achieved and done everything I set out to. I have mentored and advised so many even if you were not a part of my organisation. My legacy has been set. I have influenced and impacted so many careers. Everyone who has worked with me and for me is ambitious, hard working and successful. so my legacy cannot be questioned. I’m now headed into overdrive.”