MIAMI - Jamaica Awareness Inc. ("JA"), the community organization largely credited with pioneering reggae concerts in South Florida, has established two scholarships in honor of a legendary member of the South Florida media, the late Clint O'Neil – the man regarded as the pioneer and "godfather of Caribbean and Reggae radio."
Clint O'Neil, or "Clint O," a founding member of Jamaica Awareness, and a close friend of reggae legend Bob Marley, has attained the status of a cultural icon in Caribbean, radio, and entertainment communities across the globe; responsible in large part for introducing reggae and Marley to US and international audiences. As with all reggae artistes after him, it was a de rigueur rite of passage and practical promotion for Marley to "seat in" with Clint at the studios of WLRN; sharing knowledge and anecdotes, interspersed with Clint's trademark laugh – a legend in its own right.
His radio program "Overnight with Clint O'Neil" on WLRN 91.3 FM in Miami, which ran from 1978, until his sudden passing in 2004, was a staple of listening fare for anyone interested in – let alone serious about – reggae and other Caribbean music. In terms of reggae education, Clint O's radio show was, in fact, "Reggae 101" for artists, audience, music lovers, music selectors and collectors, and Clint "O" was the revered dean of the faculty.
The scholarships of $1500 each will go to students of Caribbean heritage and will be disbursed in the following areas of study, namely, Communications and Cultural Arts. To be eligible, the applicant has to be a current high school senior attending school in the United States with a letter of acceptance from a Historical Black College or University (HBCU).
The scholarships and the announcement of awardees will be two highlights of a year-long series of events marking the 25th Anniversary Celebrations of Jamaica Awareness, a community tax-exempt non-profit organization. The scholarships will be awarded at a presentation ceremony at Culturama, an event celebrating Caribbean Emancipation and Jamaica's Independence to be held in August 2009.
Other features of this year's activities are award-winning plays, cultural concerts, and the institution of a summer program for 11-18 year-olds.
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