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Jamaica awards Brown with national honor

KINGSTON (AP) ― Jamaica on Monday awarded the late reggae singer Dennis Brown with one of its highest civic honors, a fitting tribute for a musician who is more beloved than Bob Marley among many Jamaican reggae fans.

Some 12 years after his death, the former child star who became known as the Crown Prince of Reggae was posthumously conferred with the Caribbean island’s Order of Distinction for his contributions to reggae, which has played a huge role in Jamaica’s culture and economy.

Brown’s widow, Yvonne, attended the National Honors and Awards ceremony in Kingston, where the late entertainer was honored along with living awardees, including singers Millie Small and Ralph “Dobby” Dobson.

Junior Lincoln, chairman of a charitable trust named after Brown that is devoted to preserving his work and memory, said the late singer from gritty downtown Kingston is revered by Jamaicans due to his warm personality and honeyed singing voice with a unique vibrato.

“We’ve spent about 10 years trying to get him honored in this way,” said Lincoln, a veteran of Jamaica’s music industry who helped promote Brown’s music in England.

Brown, who died at 42 of respiratory ailments, rose to prominence during the 1970s wave of reggae singers that included Marley, whose music introduced the Jamaican genre to listeners worldwide. He released more than 50 albums and a long string of hits, beginning with “No Man is an Island,” which he recorded in 1969 at the age of 12.