August 26, 2022
With Jamaica celebrating its 60th anniversary, that number takes on added significance this year. It is also a big deal for sound system selector/broadcaster Denver “JAMUSA” Silvera who marks six decades in the music business.
Silvera, a long-time South Florida resident, celebrates the milestone on September 4 with ‘JAMUSA’s 60th Year of Music Celebration’, a party at Gold Choice Ballroom in the city of Margate.
Best known in Jamaica as a selector with the Mello Canary sound system, he currently hosts Making Tracks With JAMUSA on WAVS 1170 AM.
Silvera has been with that radio station for 34 years. He has seen its transformation from a Spanish-owned company to South Florida’s leading source of Caribbean information.
Whether as a selector or disc jockey, the St Mary-born Silvera credits a method he has used over the years for his longevity.
“The simple joy of making people happy with my music [is the secret to longevity] â€” and I never take this gift for granted. One gets only one chance in life to do what you do,” he said.
Silvera started his career playing with ‘uptown’ Kingston sound systems such as Detroit Sounds Incorporated and Soul Syndicate, which were from Havendale. In the late 1960s his big break came with Jack Ruby Hi Fi, owned by Lawrence “Jack Ruby” Lindo, who later found fame as producer of Burning Spear’s Marcus Garvey album.
His first crack at broadcasting came in the early 1970s at WWRL, a rhythm and blues station in New York that aired a weekly reggae programme with him and fellow Jamaican Karl Anthony. While living in Brooklyn, Silvera played with Imperial Faith, a New York ‘sound’.
Back in Jamaica during the late 1970s he hooked up with Mello Canary, an emerging sound system that cornered the middle-class party scene. His fellow selectors included Lenworth “Squeeze” Samuels.
“Two things that made us so successful: We never followed what other sounds did, we created our own style. We incorporated different genres of music and built a system that was second to none with quality that matched the sound of a canary,” he said.
Silvera was still with Mello Canary when he moved to South Florida in the late 1980s. The region was largely virgin territory as far as reggae was concerned, although Jamaican DJs Clint O’Neil and Marie Garth held their own on the airwaves.
His WAVS association began as a relief DJ for Garth. Eventually, he became a mainstay of the station which has other popular Jamaican hosts including Winston Barnes and John “John T” Hodgson.
Making Tracks With JAMUSA is similar to Silvera’s time with Mello Canary. He plays a mix of Caribbean music which appeals to South Florida’s diverse community.
Singers Barry Biggs, Hal Anthony, Marcia Ball and Wayne Armond and sound system colleague Waggy T are billed to perform on JAMUSA’s 60th Year of Music Celebration.
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