By Kassandra Sharma
The late Karl Winston Mullings, who is widely recognized as the forefather of the reggae scene here in Canada and a trailblazer for the mixing of Canadian and Caribbean culture, was honoured last month when the city of Brampton dedicated one of its waterways to his memory.
The K.W. Mullings Channel was unveiled by the Mayor of Brampton, Patrick Brown, during a ribbon cutting ceremony. There is a lot that Mullings will be remembered for because of the amazing journeys he took through his life, and I was able to chat with his daughter Carrie Mullings - founder of Stages Canada and host of Rebel Vibez, about his influence and legacy on the Canadian reggae scene.
“My father Karl Mullings is recognized as the forefather of the Canadian Reggae scene. He migrated to Canada with some of the musicians from a ska band called The Sheiks that won a 32 US state tour that included Mexico and landed their final stops in Canada,” Carrie responded when I asked about the history and beginnings of her father’s journey to bridge the Canadian and Jamaican reggae scene. “Harmony….my father wanted to see everyone enjoy, embrace and experience the excitement of Jamaican culture.”
While Karl had many accomplishments throughout his career, I asked which stood out most to Carrie. “I feel one of his biggest triumphs was leaving Jamaica on tour with The Sheiks, full of confidence that they would find music lovers to embrace them every stop they made. Well, that wasn’t necessarily the case. My father had to leave musicians behind at times while going ahead to the next US state stop on the tour, to befriend locals that weren’t in support of the Black and White segregation at the time and were willing to help him secure hotel accommodations or even the purchase of food for the band members when they arrived at that stop. When they say, ‘The Struggle Is Real’ I believe my father didn’t accept that it could not be some and did whatever it took to make it happen.”
Describing the ribbon cutting ceremony, Carrie said: “The ceremony was held on my 50th birthday, actually. Which fell just days after finding out the signage had actually been up since 2015, and contact to our family was overlooked, so it was important to me that we honour him ASAP. What better way to celebrate his legacy and have all the people who are important to our father and family close during this moment to share and celebrate. We are all so proud of our father’s accomplishments and ground action work that built the foundation that we all prosper from. When I approached Garnett Manning back in early 2011 to help with direction on how to get a park named after my dad, he didn’t hesitate to say ‘I would love to help with that, I think it is a wonderful tribute to his legacy.’”
“My father was the GO-TO man who always had time and a listening ear to support artists, musicians and lovers of Jamaican culture. He was always willing to help anyone in need - within reason, of course.”
As for her beliefs on his legacy, Carrie described “the migration of musicians that played a role in building the beginning of the infrastructure that we now call the Canadian Reggae scene.”