The entertainment fraternity is sending up prayers for legendary reggae singer Toots Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals, who remains in a medically induced coma at the Tony Thwaites Wing of the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI). He is also on a ventilator.
“Toots is fighting for his life and his family is asking for prayers,” his publicist Claude Mills told 18 Karat Reggae.
And, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange has reassured Jamaicans that the legendary reggae artiste is getting the best medical treatment possible and that his condition is being carefully monitored. She also revealed that the 54-46 singer was experiencing “respiratory problems”.
The singer’s label, Trojan Jamaica/BMG, issued a statement through Mills. “Mr Hibbert’s family would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and prayers during this time. The medical professionals at UHWI — where Mr. Hibbert is being taken care of— have confirmed he is in a stable condition and has been placed in a medically induced sleep, on a ventilator, and is receiving around the clock treatment to ensure his body can recover,” the statement said.
The Hibbert family is asking that everyone continues to hold him in their thoughts and prayers and respectfully ask for privacy during this time. Members of the entertainment fraternity have responded to the call and have been vocal, especially on social media, wishing the “national treasure” a speedy recovery.
The Voice winner, Tessanne Chin, was overflowing with respect. “To one of our national treasures, Mr Toots Hibbert. Heard on the news today that you are in intensive care. I pray you make a full and speedy recovery, sir. Nothing but genuine love and respect to you.”
Singer Zia Benjamin said, “Been praying for Toots, such an amazing person.”
Tuff Gong International posted on Instagram, “Sending love and light to @tootsandthemaytals. Blessings and love. You will get through this.” And Ziggy Marley responded with, “Sending our best wishes and prayers to Fada Toots @tootsmaytalsofficial as he is fighting recent illness. Please just send out some positive thoughts, energy for him and his family. Times tough. We are with you foundation, hold on in deh. Sending thoughts now. JAH.”
“Prayers and well wishes to my bredrin. Stay strong king. Blessings all around,” Maxi Priest posted.
Reggae Day conceptualiser and founder, Andrea Davis, who has had a long professional relationship with Toots, told 18 Karat Reggae, “Like everybody else, we have him in our prayers. We pray that Toots will gain strenth from day to day.”
On Tuesday, the official Instagram page of Toots and the Maytals posted the following statement: “While reports of Mr Hibbert being in an intensive care unit at a private facility in the Corporate Area are true, the family would like to assure those concerned that he is making positive progress and is receiving the best possible treatment, while he awaits the results on his COVID-19 test. He is resting and in good spirits, and is showing signs of improvement by the hour.
“His family has asked everyone to hold him in their prayers, and would like to thank the Minister of Culture Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange and Minister of Health Christopher Tufton for their assistance in getting Mr Hibbert tested, as well as the countless medical professionals who are taking care of Mr Hibbert around the clock during this time.”
Toots, a three-time winner of the Jamaica Festival Song Competition, was one of the 10 finalists for 2020 and spoke with pride with 18 Karat Reggae in August about his entry, Rise Up Jamaicans. He said he was pleased that he was able to contribute to the revitalisation of the Jamaica Festival Song Competition.
It was less than a week ago that the prolific hitmaker, who has been in the business for close to six decades, released his latest album, Got To Be Tough, on the Trojan Jamaica label. Toots is credited with naming the genre, reggae, with his first reggae song, titled Do the Reggay.