“My dad would be so proud,” these are the words of gospel artiste Jenieve Hibbert, the daughter of Grammy Award-winning reggae legend Toots Hibbert, following her triumphant performance at the recently held concert to celebrate the launch of her first solo album, Best Friend For Life.
The concert was held Saturday, August 27, before a large and enthusiastic audience at Deeper Life World Outreach Ministries in Valley Stream, Long Island, New York.
Following opening acts by solo artiste Ryan Berry and the gospel group Driven Praise, Hibbert took to the stage at approximately 10:00 p.m. and for just over an hour, holding the capacity crowd’s complete attention as she performed several songs from her repertoire in general and from the album in particular, including I’m Blessed, A Song for The Free and Jesus on Your Side.
Her rendition of the song Hallelujah- on which she worked extensively with her father before his passing in 2020 and which features strains of his popular hits Bam Bam and 54-46 – was especially well received, with the audience eagerly singing along with Hibbert for much of the performance.
The night was the culmination of a particularly hectic week for Hibbert and was nearly marred by family tragedy just days prior to her taking the stage.
After rousing and widely acclaimed performances at the Jamaican Consulate’s Diamond Jubilee Independence Ball at the Marriott Marquis Hotel on Saturday, August 20 – and at the official press launch of the Jamaican Music Experience and True Tribute Awards in Queens on Tuesday, August 23, Hibbert was blindsided by disturbing news that she received on Wednesday evening, three days before her launch.
A packed bus carrying a large contingent of her family and friends back to New York from a church trip to Canada was run off the road near Buffalo and overturned into a deep precipice, injuring many of its passengers.
Although no fatalities occurred, several members of Hibbert’s family were seriously injured, and consequently, she was told she would not be able to attend her launch concert.
Best Friend For Life is dedicated to Toots Hibbert, who mentored Jenieve and her sisters, Leba and Melanie, from an early age, eventually forming them into his backup vocal group, 54-46. They toured the world with the senior Hibbert for many years, starting when Jenieve was in her mid-teens.
Since 1987, when Hibbert gave her life to the Lord and started a family ministry with her music, she has gone on to earn several awards, including Canada’s Omega Award as well as a Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album as part of the Toots and The Maytals release, True Love in 2004.