Sep 24, 2018

Jamaica the first stop on Buju Banton's 'Freedom' tour

Incarcerated reggae superstar Buju Banton will reportedly be embarking on a major world tour in 2019.

The reggae legend’s team announced via social media that he would embark on a tour dubbed “Long Walk To Freedom”.

“The anticipation continues to build, looking forward to seeing you all soon. Stay Tuned!” the post read.

Donovan Germain, the artiste's close friend and former manager, said that Buju Banton's first performance will be in Jamaica.

"I cannot give any details at this time, but I can confirm that his first show will be in Jamaica," Germain told Loop Jamaica reporter Claude Mills.

Dates will be announced in the coming weeks and there will be special guests performing with the singer. Loop News understands that the first show in Jamaica is tentatively scheduled for March 23, 2019.

The “Long Walk To Freedom” tour will be Buju Banton’s first major trek after his release from prison on December 8. He has a show already booked for Trinidad and Tobago in the spring of next year. There is also a show set for March 30th at the Nassau National Stadium in the Bahamas.

Buju Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for drug trafficking. He will return to Jamaica after his release.

He is a major reggae star, winning a Grammy award in 2011 for his album 'Before the Dawn'. He was previously nominated in the Best Reggae Album category in 2004, and 2010 for his albums Friends for Life and Rasta Got Soul.


Nov 15, 2017

Buju’s children look forward to his homecoming

Jodian & Mark Myrie

Ten years is a long time for a father to be separated from his children.

Hence, Buju Banton's offspring are already counting down the months to their father's release and return to Jamaica.

Buju is expected to be released in December 2018, having one year removed from his 10-year sentence.

The eldest of Buju's children, Jodian Myrie, is anticipating an emotional roller coaster on the day her father lands.

She shared that Buju had asked all his children to promise not to visit during his incarceration. She kept that promise unlike her brothers Markus and Jahazeil, who decided that was not an option.

"When I was 16, we surprised him. I just really wanted to see him because it had been long time," said Jahazeil, now 20. "He is ready to come home and I know in his spirit that he wants to perform. No one wants to be away from their family or work for so long under those conditions."

As an emerging member of the recording fraternity, Jahazeil believes that a homecoming event should be planned, although nothing has been discussed among the siblings.

"To be quite honest, we don't have anything prepared. It is not something that we know how to deal with, a person coming off serving time. Closer to the release, the family will know what to do. One thing I am sure of is he will want some nice food cooked," Jodian said, adding that they would not necessarily be forcing anything on him.


Jahazeil said he cried on a few occasions when he visited his father.

"Sometimes it rough, sometimes it smooth. No one can imagine the joy it gave me to know him coming out early, it lifted my spirits. He taught us how to be strong and militant, but all I want to see is him reconnect and build a strong bond for the years he missed out on," Jahazeil said.

Jodian said the family has grown, noting Buju even has grandchildren.

"I had made certain to send recorded media of my daughter to him, so I know when they finally meet I will melt into a puddle," she said.

The children have recognised that as a legendary recording artiste, Buju will desire to reconnect with his fans both old and new.

However, Mark Myrie the man, according to Jodian, "will need some time to regroup." Jahazeil believes people will be glad for his father to perform.

However, Jodian said she was unsure how involved the Government would want to be, and said discrimination will come from various persons.

The family seems to have agreed to keep Buju's return date a secret when all arrangements for his return to Jamaica are made.

This is to avoid unnecessary press and potential security concerns.


Jul 5, 2017

Buju Banton to launch clothing line on his birthday July 15, 2017

Incarcerated reggae artiste, Buju Banton, is set to launch his own clothing line. The entertainer's team recently made the announcement via his official Instagram account.

The brand titled 'Everything BB' will feature T-shirts displaying Buju Banton's photo as well as lyrics from his songs like Hills And Valleys, Love Sponge, Walk Like a Champion and Driver. Items will be available for purchase on the line's official website,

Persons interested in finding out the details of the line as they are made available, are encouraged to follow the line's Instagram page everythingbbofficial.

Buju Banton is slated to be released on December 8, 2018.

Mar 2, 2017

Which Song Will Buju Start His Next Jamaican Performance With? (Pt 1)

Photo: Riina Asamoa

Early last month The STAR, referring to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) website, reported that Mark 'Buju Banton' Myrie now has a release date of December 8, 2018. It is anyone's guess when and where his first post-release performance in Jamaica will be. However, as the universe has aligned it, Rebel Salute 2019 will be held a little over a month after Buju's current release date and it will be a significant landmark at that - its 25th anniversary.His 2005 Rebel Salute showing, when he came on after Jimmy Cliff, was memorable.

Just saying.

So I wonder what Buju's first song on a stage in Jamaica after his release will be. Which tune from his catalogue could he open up with before the hordes of people who are sure to turn up to see and hear the Gargamel? The possibilities are juicy; and what they say about his attitude towards incarceration and current state of mind intriguing. Here are a few.

1. 'Til Shiloh'

The brief title track of his 1995 album, performing this first would reaffirm Buju's Rastafarian steadfast faith through his trial (literally) and travail of incarceration. Naturally, it would run into another song and the sound system selectors tend to follow up with, Hills and Valleys, which, with the lines "only Rasta can liberate the people and why try to make I unhappy/Really I don't know/If it was up to them my friend/We would never see the sun or the snow", would suit the occasion well.

2. 'Our Father In Zion'

Another short one, this is from the 1997 Inna Heights album, which followed Til Shiloh. Its content would say almost the same thing as, Til Shiloh, but would strike a stronger note with those grounded in the Christian faith. There is something which moves in the soul when a mass of people sing "hallowed be they name" and I can almost hear it now.

3. '23rd Psalm'

A track from his 2000 Unchained Spirit album, Buju and Gramps Morgan's voices blend beautifully on this take on what is known as, The Lord's Prayer. As an opening song, it would be an extended version and have a sustained effect of beginning with, Our Father in Zion, but maybe not as intense as that "hallowed" section.

4. 'Close One Yesterday'

Another track from Inna Heights, opening with this would be a statement of having been saved by faith ("I had a close one yesterday/Jah put an angel over me") and also personal fortitude ("Be strong, hold a firm meditation/One day things must get better/Don't go down, keep your head above the water").

5. 'Destiny'

Another one from Inna Heights to close out this week's possibilities. This would be a statement that from this point onwards, no guy will have a say in what he does - Buju will not put his life under the control of anyone, law enforcement included.

Next week, we will look at a few more opening options, among them Give I Strength, Me An Ooonu, Boom Bye Bye, Ova Me, Magic City, Driver and Circumstances. 


May 22, 2015

Buju Banton: Teenage Sensation to Convicted Warrior (Onstage TV 45min documentary)

Onstage TV is a Jamaican entertainment news and current affairs channel based in Kingston covering the spectrum of Jamaican/Caribbean happenings worldwide. Its where in-dept stories that delve into the lifestyles, successes and failures of Reggae/Dancehall celebrities are told.

Here is their story on Buju Banton. Published May 20, 2015

See also:

Buju to serve full sentence - pressured into an agreement

Rosemary Duncan, coordinator of the three-member Buju Banton Defense Support Committee, says the incarcerated reggae artiste was "pressured into an agreement" to drop any further appeals.

Buju Banton (given name Mark Myrie) is currently serving a mandatory 10-year sentence in a Georgia correctional facility on cocaine charges.

Last Thursday, the reggae singer said he would be halting any further appeals, while the US Attorney Office announced it would be dismissing firearms charge against the singer.

"The court had thrown out the gun charge twice. However, the prosecution still had the option of pursuing a new trial ... and if convicted, he would get an additional five years," the St Lucian-born, US-based Duncan told the Jamaica Observer.

Buju Banton -- who was arrested in 2009 -- was convicted in February 2011. He is scheduled to be deported to Jamaica in 2019.

The support committee coordinator said the decision to discontinue the appeals came from the artiste himself.

"It was his own decision, based on his own analysis. He realised that every time there is hope, the court would say something else. He said he's done 5 1/2 years and could do 3 1/2 years more. It had nothing [to do] with legal cost, as he always paid his lawyers," she explained.

The entertainer's legal team comprises Harvard professor Charles Ogletree and Max Stern.

In January, Ogletree told the Observer he would be pulling out all the stops to free his client.

"We will be fighting for Buju Banton's freedom. We will present our arguments for a reversal of his conviction to the entire court in an en banc hearing later this spring," he said.

Duncan, who said the support group was formed in 2011 to champion Buju Banton's cause, said despite the decision, he remains positive.

"I spoke with him today. He's the same person, in terms of spirit. He's writing great music for his fans," she said.

Days after his 2011 conviction, Buju Banton won a Grammy Award for his album Before Dawn. His other albums include 'Til Shiloh (1995), Inna Heights (1997) and Unchained Spirit (2000).

See also:


Mar 1, 2015

Special Prosecutor Appointed to Investigate Rogue Juror in Buju Case

Ever since Buju Banton, one of Jamaica's most talented and controversial reggae singers, was convicted of cocaine trafficking and gun charges in 2011, there have been signs his trial was not on the up-and-up.

You may recall he was sentenced to ten years and lingers in federal lockup. That sentence was allowed to stand even though New Times first disclosed in 2012 that the jury forewoman, Terri Wright, had conducted outside research while the trial was ongoing. That's a violation of court procedures, so 19 months ago, a federal judge ordered the U.S. government to bring criminal contempt charges against Wright.

Virtually nothing happened. But now there's movement. A special prosecutor from outside the U.S. Department of Justice has been tasked with leading the case against the rogue juror and plans to meet with Banton's legal team, Wright, and the feds.

Though no one on the government end is talking much, the appointment of a special prosecutor in such a situation is significant. Such prosecutors are typically reserved for investigating government officials.

So is there a wider probe into potential misconduct that could move Banton a step closer to freedom?

"I hope," says defense attorney Charles Ogletree, who heads Harvard Law School's Institute for Race and Justice. He has been representing Banton (real name Mark Myrie) for the past year. "Here we have a wildcat juror, somebody who's going way beyond their authority and doing things that were completely inappropriate. This undermined the search for truth, which resulted, I think, in the conviction of [Banton]."

Wright's misdeeds extend far beyond doing internet research during the trial. She appears to have lied on several occasions, including during jury selection for Banton's trial, when she told the court she had served in only one previous trial. In reality she had served in seven.

Moreover, when the judge ordered Wright to turn over her computer for forensic analysis, Wright submitted a bogus hard drive. It was in the wake of this deception that the judge called for the contempt charges.

Lost in all of this mess is that Banton remains locked up. It has been six years since he was arrested. He has been through two trials -- the first ended in a hung jury and the second was corrupted by Wright. He has served more jail time than the men who were actually at the scene of the crime with stacks of cash and a gun trying to buy cocaine. (He was far away when the bust happened.)

The criminal informant who built the case against Buju had been deemed untrustworthy by a previous judge and had financial incentive to bend the truth in favor of the prosecution. One-third of the jurors have even admitted to New Times that they did not want to find the singer guilty on the gun charge, which carries a five-year sentence.

It's the jury forewoman's actions that most disturb Harvard's Ogletree, though. "What Terri Wright did is contrary to everything that anyone knows about jury trials," he says. "Jurors... take an oath, and they need to follow it."

Banton's case remains under review by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, where Ogletree recently presented an oral argument centering largely on all the unknowns surrounding Wright. Two weeks ago, the panel requested that all 11 judges of the court review the case. Another hearing is expected this spring.

"We have all the evidence going in our direction," Ogletree says. "We're ready."

See also:


Feb 1, 2015

Unchained spirit

Despite Wednesday's unsuccessful bid, Professor Charles Ogletree -- part of reggae singer Buju Banton's legal team -- is vowing to continue the fight to have his client's conviction reversed.

"We will be fighting for Buju Banton's freedom," said Olgetree, a professor at Harvard Law School, in a written response to the Jamaica Observer's queries.

On Wednesday, a United States Appeal Court dismissed the request to have the reggae artiste's conviction overturned to secure a new trial. But Ogletree, who, along with Max Stern comprise Buju Banton's legal team, is undaunted.

"We have not lost the appeal. The 11th Circuit made it clear that the entire Appellate Court should hear his case. We will present our arguments for a reversal of his conviction to the entire Court in an En Banc hearing later this spring," he said.

Buju Banton, whose given name is Mark Myrie, is currently serving a mandatory 10-year prison sentence for a charge of conspiracy to distribute cocaine. The 41-year-old is scheduled to be released in 2019. He has filed a motion requesting an early release under new federal drug sentencing guidelines.

He was convicted in February 2011, days after winning a Grammy award for his album, Before the Dawn. His other albums include 'Til Shiloh (1995), Inna Heights (1997) and Unchained Spirit (2000).

"We are grateful to the people of Jamaica and around the world who have been steadfast in fighting for justice for Buju Banton!," Ogletree concluded.


Jan 23, 2015

No New Trial For Buju

Grammy award-winning Jamaican reggae artiste Buju Banton has lost his appeal to have his conviction overturned to secure a new trial.

With this ruling, that was handed down in a Florida court earlier this week, Buju Banton, whose given name is Mark Myrie, will continue to serve his 10-year prison sentence.

He is currently serving a mandatory sentence for his conviction on a charge of conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

Buju is scheduled to be released in 2019, however he filed his own motion from prison asking to be released early under a recent change in federal drug sentencing guidelines.

He was convicted in February 2011, days after he won a Grammy award for his album, “Before the Dawn.”


Dec 9, 2014

Buju Banton to courts: Release me, deport me to Jamaica

TAMPA — Grammy-winning reggae singer Buju Banton hopes recent changes in drug sentencing rules will get him out of prison early and back to his native Jamaica.

But the performer is likely out of luck.

Although more than 1,700 drug defendants sentenced in Tampa federal court have been identified as potential beneficiaries of a recent rollback in federal sentencing guidelines, the change won’t apply to most of those serving minimum mandatory sentences under the law.

Banton, whose legal name is Mark Myrie, is serving 10 years, the minimum mandatory sentence for his conviction on a charge of conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

The only ways to get around the minimum mandatory sentences would require defendants to cooperate with investigators or at least give a full confession to their crimes. Banton, who has steadfastly maintained his innocence, is unlikely to meet that requirement.

The Jamaican-born reggae star was convicted in February 2011, days after he won a Grammy award for his work titled “Before the Dawn.”

The singer was arrested in 2010 following a sting by the Drug Enforcement Administration at a Sarasota warehouse. Banton was targeted by investigators starting in July 2009 when, returning with his band from a European tour, he happened to sit next to an informant on a flight from Madrid to Miami. Authorities subsequently recorded numerous conversations in which the two men talked about drug trafficking.

Banton is serving his sentence in a prison run by Corrections Corporation of America in McRae, Georgia. He is scheduled for release in 2019. His case is on appeal.

In the meantime, he filed his own motion from prison asking to be released early under a recent change in federal drug sentencing guidelines, which the U.S. Sentencing Commission decided would be applied retroactively to inmates.

The federal probation office in the Middle District of Florida has identified 1,748 inmates originally sentenced in Tampa on drug charges as potentially eligible to benefit from the change, known as Drugs Minus 2, because it reduces sentencing guidelines for most drug offenses by two levels. If projections hold true, the average sentence of 11 years and 1 month will be reduced to nine years.

Those defendants will not be eligible for release until Nov. 1, 2015.

Chief Judge Anne C. Conway issued an order last month directing the probation office to identify inmates who may be eligible for early release under the change and to prepare reports in each case addressing the issues, including a proposed range for new sentences. Conway directed the Federal Public Defender’s Office to represent all inmates for this purpose unless there is a conflict of interest.

Probation officers are prioritising cases by their potential release dates, meaning those who are likely to be eligible for release first will be addressed first.

In the meantime, hundreds of inmates, like Banton, have tried to get their cases heard by filing their own motions with the court.

In his motion, Banton argues he should be sentenced to 92 months in prison under the new guidelines. He says he’s been “working in prison since his incarceration” and has “very good conduct’’ behind bars.

He asks that the court reduce his sentence and turn him over to immigration authorities so he can be deported back to Jamaica.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission, which implemented the change to the sentencing guidelines, says it cannot do anything about minimum mandatory sentences, which are spelled out in law. “Only Congress can change mandatory minimum penalties,” the commission says on its website.

Chief Probation Officer Joe Collins estimated 225 drug offenders sentenced in the Middle District of Florida may be eligible for release on Nov. 1, 2015. Of that group, 75 cases have been reviewed by probation officers, and 48 were originally sentenced in federal court in Tampa.

The former inmates all will have to serve a period of probation — known as supervised release — and Collins said his office is bracing for the increased workload, which he said will be 70 to 80 percent more than normal.

Attorneys with the public defender’s office say another retroactive change in how some sentences are calculated could shave significant time off the sentences of certain drug defendants sentenced in some jurisdictions, including the federal circuit that encompasses Florida.

Those defendants received credit for providing prosecutors with “substantial assistance,” or extensive cooperation. The Sentencing Commission ordered a change in how their sentences were calculated.

The public defender’s office hopes to file a motion in the case of one Tampa defendant, for example, who was convicted of possessing a small amount of drugs, according to federal defender attorney Conrad Kahn. But because he had two prior convictions for small drug amounts, he received a lengthy sentence, even though he was given credit for substantial assistance.

Kahn said the planned motion has the potential to reduce the defendant’s sentence by 17 or 18 years, allowing his immediate release after having served about seven years.

By Elaine Silvestrini | Tribune Staff