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Donovan ‘Survivor the Gifted’ Grant: From Birth to Rebirth and Onwards:
Like many first-born sons, I bear my father’s Christian name as my own and of course, his surname. It is my middle name ‘Junior’ which distinguishes me from my father, so you know that he is the senior Donovan Grant, Daddy.
It was always one of his desires for me that I become a singer or musician and my mother, Icelyn ‘Angella’ Mullings, a fellow music lover also shared in this dream. My extended family had already produced several musicians and vocalists, most of whom are performers of secular music. I had the influence, the support and my own burning desire to ‘voice out’ and a God-given blessing to put words together to flow as song lyrics.
My first performances were at church, which I attended with my grandmother. But my preferred platform was at entertainment events such as concerts, talent shows throughout my years of schooling at Elderslie All Age (later, the Elderslie Primary & Junior High School) and Maggotty High School, in St. Elizabeth, the parish of my birth. At one particular talent show in these early years, as I voiced the first two lines, I got a ‘forward’ set off by my mother – she signalled a ‘pull up’ for me when she made two mock gunshots with her voice. So began my love for the ‘high’ I felt from hearing people whistle, scream, chant my name or in most cases chant my nicknames - ‘likkle Beenie’ and ‘Uroy’ (so named after the popular artistes who bear these stage names). Over a decade later and I am still hailed as ‘Uri” - the shortened version of ‘Uroy’.
I held a kind of local celebrity status during these early years: even cutting ‘dub plates’ for sound systems to play at sessions. Yet I was determined to go beyond St. Bess, to become a ‘dancehall’ artiste. My vocal styling was not that of a hardcore deejay, it was known as the ‘singjay’ quality, which I was marketing to producers as being versatile for both ‘dancehall’ and other genres.
And so, I followed my dream after graduating high school in 1999 and came to live in Kingston, I believed that relocating to the corporate area would further my intended career as a dancehall artiste. After all, the big artistes lived in ‘town’ and I intended to make a name for myself.
I then started voicing at Anchor Studio for Three Kings’ label and later, in about 2002, I worked with Lexus Production. While working with Lexus Production I released the song, “Thumbs Up Ladies..”. Notwithstanding my solo releases, I became part of a group known as ‘Reggae Rebels’, which had three other members.
I was convinced that each move I made was progress to the international recording dancehall star destiny. I performed at stage-shows in and around Kingston (including performances at shows like Spectrum and at a Tribute to Marcus Garvey (Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jnr.); and at nightclubs that were popular, like the ‘Asylum’ and ‘Cactus’. At that time, these performances meant that I was on the brink of an even bigger ‘buss’.
My stage name became ‘Mr. Iiice’, known to my friends also as ‘Freezie’. I had my own name/brand I transformed: of course, man haffi’ represent and fit the name ‘Iiice’. My persona reflected the dancehall culture: from my walk to how I attired. My hair was in plaits, my earrings (of course) and often, I would ‘beat’ (wear) a ‘tiehead’ (headtie). My black lips and red eyes, told, for those who know these signs, under what influence, I was holding my ‘medz’ (meditation). It was a way of life, that ‘holding a medz’, was a part of the process of writing lyrics.
With this image, I was promoted as an ‘up and coming’ artiste by being featured on televisions shows such a ‘Smile Jamaica”, “Reggae Trail” and being interviewed by host ‘Suzy Q’. I embraced the publicity. I was not holding back nor looking back…this was my time. But sometimes the way forward, actually begins on a path you may have sidestepped earlier along the way.
In 2004, I had a near brush with death when a gunshot was fired in my direction and somehow I was unharmed. Later that year, I fell into an illness that made me weak. While enduring this illness, I experienced another shooting incident. This time, I was in the company of friends who were robbed at gunpoint and in this incident, there was a fatal shooting. These narrow escapes would not be the last ordeal where I would wonder if I would survive.
My illness prolonged and made me dazed. I was too out of touch with reality to continue performing or recording. In need of care, I returned to my parents’ home. From what I can now remember, because of being ill, I became unable to walk or speak.
My family members resorted to administering ‘remedies’ they believed possessed supernatural powers to heal me. Yet, as I now declare and testify in one of the songs which has been laid on my heart (‘Only True Friend’) and which I want to share with the world: there is only one true God. Jehovah-Rapha.
Eventually, my family took me to the hospital. I was hospitalized only for a day and I was discharged in a condition that was barely better than how I was when I was admitted. I recall seeing that those who visited me were fighting to hold back tears. I had deteriorated and it seemed to them that I would not have made it. No treatment seemed to provide a cure. Gradually, medical attention provided only some alleviation, enough for me to start walking again and to be discharged from the hospital.
Notwithstanding my condition, I began attending Sabbath (Saturday) services at the Church of God (7th Day) I had attended as a child. During my first Sabbath, the Church, by divine inspiration, paused its usual worship and allowed a special prayer to be made on my behalf. Prayer would continue to be offered by the brethren for my recovery. I soon regained full health.
There was and has never been any clear diagnosis of that illness. It is mainly believed that I was poisoned. But of one thing, I am sure: my experience has helped me develop a conviction that