Late veteran toaster Ewart ‘U-Roy’ Beckford will be buried at Dovecot Memorial on Wednesday, May 19. There will also be a viewing at Perry’s Funeral Home for the Wear You to the Ball singer beginning Monday, May 17 so that the public can say their final farewells to the beloved singer.
The burial will be at 1 pm on Wednesday.
“I want to thank Minister Olivia Grange for her help in organizing the viewing and the arrangements. We understand that the COVID-19 restrictions caused this long delay and at this moment, we are just grateful that we can send him off in dignified manner befitting his status in Jamaican music,” Daddy U-Roy’s partner of forty-plus years, Marcia Smikle, told DancehallMag.
All the arrangements are being handled by Perry’s Funeral Home but there will be no traditional funeral service and the event will not be live-streamed. Nonetheless, U-Roy’s send-off promises to be an “exciting bashment event” befitting a musical icon of Daddy U Roy’s stature.
Daddy U-Roy is survived by 16 children. Smikle, who is in her 60s, had lived with the artist for 41 years. They didn’t conceive any children together, but he raised Smikle’s child – from a previous relationship – as his own.
Daddy U-Roy passed away on February 17. The veteran toaster helped transform Jamaican music through an innovative vocal improvisation process known as ‘toasting’ where he expanded the role of D.J. into someone who didn’t just play and introduce records but added their own verve and vocal ability to the product. He was 78.
U Roy had been receiving treatment for diabetes and high blood pressure conditions. He also suffered from kidney problems.
Beckford was the first toaster to popularize the form through a series of successful releases on the Duke Reid label gaining a wider audience for toasting. This approach to production and the remixing of previously recorded tracks with a new vocal influenced the early hip-hop pioneers such as Kool Herc.
Beckford’s first two singles released on Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle label were iconic smash hits. Those singles, Wake the Town (1970) and Wear You to the Ball (1970), dominated the airwaves and established his reputation as one of Jamaica’s most popular toasters.
One of his most significant achievements was the establishment of his own sound system which he named Stur Gav after his sons in 1978. The sound system would then launch the careers of a younger generation of toasters and singers including Ranking Joe, Jah Screw, Charlie Chaplin and Josey Wales.
He was conferred an Order of Distinction for his contribution to Jamaican music. U Roy’s most recent album is Pray Fi Di People which was released in 2012.