Published:Wednesday | May 30, 2018 | Christopher Thomas/ Gleaner Writer
With his release from police custody without charge yesterday, the way has now been paved for dancehall artiste Tommy Lee Sparta to appear as one of the headline acts at the 2018 staging of Reggae Sumfest.
In an interview with The Gleaner yesterday, shortly after St James Senior Parish Judge Sandria Wong-Small ordered Tommy Lee’s release, Joe Bogdanovich, CEO of Reggae Sumfest, said that he welcomed the news and is looking forward to a stellar performance by the artiste.
“Tommy Lee was booked for Sumfest two months ago, so, naturally, we are happy that he is now free to perform,” said Bogdanovich.
When quizzed as to what advice he would give Tommy Lee, who has been having regular run-ins with the police for the past three years, Bogdanovich, who also heads Downsound Records, had one, simple word of advice.
DEVELOP YOUR BRAND
“I would tell him to focus on his music, and leave the side issues alone,” said Bogdanovich, who intimated that if artistes paid more attention to developing their craft and their brands as entertainers, there would be less room for the issues that sometimes land them in trouble.
Tommy Lee, whose given name is Leroy Russell, is originally from Flanker in St James but has been based in Kingston over the past four years. He was arrested on Sunday, May 20, shortly after he had performed at the culmination show for the 2018 Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall showcase in Kingston.
Last Tuesday, Judge Sandria Wong-Small ordered the police to either charge the entertainer or release him by yesterday. With no charges laid against him, the judge order the artiste’s immediate release from the Freeport Police Station, where he was being held.
“With all due respect, I do not agree that he [Tommy Lee] has been properly taken into custody under the SOE (state of public emergency) in these particular circumstances. I do not find that he is properly detained, and he needs to be released,” said Wong-Small.