The University of the West Indies (UWI) conferred an honorary degree upon the legendary reggae artist, Beres Hammond, on Saturday, November 4th, 2023. Beres Hammond was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters (DLitt). He is one of five individuals who received honorary degrees as part of an annual tradition. UWI announced online that this event coincided with the university's 7th jubilee celebrations within the region. This honor recognizes the significant contributions Beres Hammond has made to both his community and society at large.
Born as the ninth of ten siblings, Beres Hammond's musical journey was heavily influenced by his father's collection of American soul and jazz, featuring artists like Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. He was also inspired by the native sounds of ska and rocksteady, particularly Alton Ellis.
Hammond's early years involved participation in local talent contests from 1972 to 1973, leading to his first recording of Ellis' "Wanderer." In 1975, he became the lead singer of the band Zap Pow, which resulted in the hit single "The System" in 1978. Simultaneously, he embarked on a solo career and released his debut album, "Soul Reggae," in 1976. Hits like "One Step Ahead" and "I'm in Love" showcased his solo prowess.
Leaving Zap Pow in 1979, Hammond recorded two more albums, "Let's Make A Song" in 1980 and "Red Light" in 1981. He later formed the harmony group Tuesday's Children, although they toured without recording.
In 1985, Hammond established his record label, Harmony House Records, releasing the album "Make a Song" with chart-toppers like "Groovy Little Thing" and "What One Dance Can Do." "Settling Down" in 1986 marked his continued success.
In 1987, Hammond relocated to New York City after a home invasion incident. There, he recorded "Have a Nice Weekend" and collaborated with Maxi Priest on "How Can We Ease the Pain."
Returning briefly to Jamaica, Hammond recorded "Putting Up Resistance" and signed with Penthouse Records in 1990. The dancehall hit "Tempted to Touch" and subsequent successes like "Is This a Sign" and "Respect to You Baby" cemented his status in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Throughout the 1990s, Hammond released multiple albums and compilations, establishing himself as a leading lover's rock artist. Notable releases included "Music Is Life" (2001) and "Love Has No Boundaries" (2004).
In 2007, he performed at the Cricket World Cup opening ceremony and released "A Moment in Time" in 2008. His album "One Love, One Life" topped the Billboard Reggae Albums chart in 2012, and he received the Order of Jamaica in 2013.
After a six-year gap, Hammond released "Never Ending" in 2018, topping the Billboard Reggae Albums Chart.
In 2019, he embarked on the "Never Ending" tour across the United States and Canada.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2021, Hammond presented a streaming event titled "Love From A Distance Live" with guest appearances by renowned artists.
On August 20, 2023, Beres Hammond was honored for his exceptional dedication and soulful musical artistry by the Jamaican Museum and Cultural Center in Atlanta, GA.