One of the founding fathers of the musical genre reggae which has shaped the world and its popular culture for decades, Ewart Beckford known by the stage name U-Roy has passed away, U-Roy was a Jamaican vocalist and pioneer of toasting and noted for a melodic style of toasting applied with a highly developed sense of timing.
U-Roy (Ewart Beckford) was born in Jones Town, Saint Andrews Parish, Kingston, Jamaica, on 21 September 1942. He was raised within a religious and musical family; his mother was an organist for the choir at a local Seventh-day Adventist church.
In 1978 Beckford started his own sound system which he named Stur Gav after his sons; the sound system would launch the careers of a younger generation of toasters and singers including Ranking Joe, Jah Screw, Charlie Chaplin and Josey Wales. In 1980 the pop group Blondie had a world-wide hit with the reggae track "The Tide Is High" which prompted Virgin to re-release the original Paragons' track from 1967 and the 1971 U-Roy version as a single that same year. His most recent album is Pray Fi Di People which was released in 2012.
Beckford was featured on the album True Love by Toots and the Maytals, which won the Grammy Award in 2004 for Best Reggae Album, and showcased many notable musicians including Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Trey Anastasio, Gwen Stefani / No Doubt, Ben Harper, Bonnie Raitt, Manu Chao, The Roots, Ryan Adams, Keith Richards, Toots Hibbert, Paul Douglas, Jackie Jackson, Ken Boothe, and The Skatalites.
In 2007 Beckford was awarded the Order of Distinction by the Jamaican government for his contribution to music.